Letters to the Editor | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published July 31, 2013 at 4:36 a.m.

Nokes on the Defensive

Articles about Winooski police officer Jason Nokes seem to gloss over the fact that he was suddenly and without warning attacked by a person later revealed to have severe mental health issues [“Why Prosecutors Asked a Grand Jury Whether to Charge a Winooski Cop,” July 17; “Troubles Mount for a Winooski Cop With a Checkered Past,” July 24.]

Officer Nokes, an extremely powerful person and fitness buff, and another veteran officer could not control the attacker. Isaac Sage continued to fight them even after being shocked with a Taser twice and ultimately shot in the leg. He had the strength and rage of the mentally insane.

My contact with Officer Nokes specifically, and the Winooski police force in general, has always been as a part of the ongoing battle to keep drugs out of the Winooski apartment buildings I own. It’s easy to forget that such actions involve not only going after people who sell drugs, but ensuring the rights of the vast majority of law-abiding tenants. Nokes’ efforts on their behalf have always been marked by common sense and professional conduct.

I find it unbelievable that a police officer who has been attacked is now charged with a crime and is the object of a civil suit. The forthcoming trial and lawsuit will prove to be a great waste of taxpayer money — brought on by political motivations and greed.

Mike Armstrong

Essex Junction

McMansions at Burlington College

How telling was the writer’s notation that two-thirds of Burlington College’s debt “is in the form of a tax-exempt bond ... that prevents [it] from contracting with for-profit developers” [“Burlington College’s Future Depends on a Big, Bold Development Plan,” June 19]. As one would expect around here lately, the college and its private developers will simply skirt the intent of the law and build private homes on this otherwise beautiful lakefront property — more overpriced McMansions with lake views for the few who can afford them. A recent letter to this paper [Feedback, “Bad Move for Burlington College,” June 26] bemoaned the fact that this paper referred to this property as simply a “parcel of undeveloped land” — as if it was there simply to be built upon, like every other vacant inch of empty space in this city. Well, that’s what you’ll have with a pro-development mayor, review board and development community who have no sense of when and where to say “no” to more, more, more.  I was initially ecstatic when Burlington College purchased this piece of property. My feeling was “Yeah! No fat-cat developers with their rows of high-priced houses down there now!” How shocked I was to learn that the college will now simply be in the housing development business alongside their collegiate activities. Can’t wait for the added traffic and stoplights there!

Dave Parker


Blame The People, Not The Breed

[Re “Local Ad Campaign Seeks to Soften Pit Bulls’ Dangerous Image,”; June 26]: While it was encouraging to see an article in Seven Days about people creating positive PR about pit bulls in our area, it was disheartening to hear Colleen Lynn say that because of their genetics, pit bulls are predisposed for “killing people.” Yes, it is true they are one of the strongest breeds and have the ability to inflict great harm. But their unjust reputation as violent dogs is directly related to abuse at the hands of humans, not their genetic makeup. I see the inherent goodness of these dogs everywhere I go. I see it everyday at home, where the pit bull we rescued from a puppy mill shows unending amounts of love and loyalty. I see it when my pit bull visits the dog park and plays well with every dog, though she spends most of her time sitting next to strangers just to get petted. Most of all, I see it when I take my pit bull, who is registered as a certified therapy dog, to visit with the elderly and sick at the local nursing home, where she quietly and calmly sits as they pet and kiss her joyfully. Rather than perpetuate the stereotypes and enact breed-specific legislation that discriminates against these dogs, we need more people standing up for them. We need fewer people looking at them as potential killing machines and more people praising them for the wonderful family dogs they can be. These dogs are not born bad; humans make them that way.

Elisa Kiviranna


Not Vermont-y Enough

Recently, I visited the new Hotel Vermont. The points missed in the comic review [“Taste Test: Juniper,” July 3] were price and ambiance. While Hotel Vermont is a beautiful, modern and locally sourced place, it is not very Vermont-like. Outside of local ingredients and Vermont Teddy Bears in the rooms, it lacks the local character. This place is designed not for locals, but for visitors. Travelers will be impressed, but they will also be charged for it. The prices for the food and rooms are steep for typical Vermont thinking — too high for what you get. A couple of blocks away a visitor can sample excellent cuisine at better pricing. The Hotel Vermont, for me, just doesn’t feel like Vermont.

Marcus Certa

South Burlington

Comic Take

Loved the cartoon [“Taste Test: Juniper,” July 3]! What an innovative way of doing a food review! Not to mention our excitement of Juniper being the first one. Thanks!

Hans van Wees


Van Wees is general manager of Hotel Vermont.

Turtles in Trouble

I enjoyed the article about the pet-rescue turtle [“Shell Game,” June 26], though I think it should have been mentioned that it is illegal to take some species of turtle out of the wild as pets. A follow-up article might be helpful so people can understand that turtles are among the most endangered species in the world, and removing a breeding-age female from her habitat can cause that local population to crash. We lose too many to the pet trade, road kill and development as it is. People of any age who love turtles can learn about our native turtles and do a great deal to protect them, sometimes ensuring their survival for the next 100 years.

Jennifer Pettit

Townsend, MA

Charge Polluters

[Re “Vermont Sewage Plants are Overflowing, But How Much Remains a Mystery,” July 17]: Referring to James Ehlers and Anthony Iarrapino, you wrote: “Both men suggest that there’s a lack of political will to hit up taxpayers to adequately fund needed infrastructure improvements.” Another failure of the political system is dealing with “free” pollution. Perhaps the problem should be localized even further. A neighborhood that has combined sanitary and storm sewer lines could be charged a premium on its water bills for contributing to overflows. This would provide financial incentive for that neighborhood to upgrade its sewer lines through increased property taxes over time. Such a system might be more politically viable than asking all Burlington residents to foot the bill for specific areas of the city.

Steve Levy


A Coup is a Coup

Paul Heintz, unlike most pundits, is no fool! He has refused to be taken in by politico-speak, also known in Vermont as cow flop. His July 10 Fair Game column takes Senator Leahy to task for linguistic acrobatics — also known in Vermont as weaseling — over cutting funds to Egypt in the wake of the military takeover. Usurpation? Kicking ass? Oh yes, coup! Socrates would be amused by the senator’s syllogism: (A) U.S. law requires defunding aid to any country where a democratically elected government is removed by a coup. (B) The Morsi government was eliminated by a coup. (C) Therefore, we must study the situation to draw any conclusions.

But why is anyone surprised by Leahy’s two-faced position? In Washington it’s called being a team player — also known in Vermont as hedging your bets. Remember, Senator Leahy voted to confirm Chief Justice John Roberts, one of the most reactionary ideologues on the Supreme Court. Fair Game also brought out the fact that, once again, the New York Times printed a terminological inexactitude — also known in Vermont as a lie. The senator never explicitly came out in favor of cutting aid to Egypt but rather tap danced neatly around the issue.

Al Salzman


Nothing Prohibitionist About It

[Re Fair Game: “Boozin’ and Cruisin,’” July 24]: Kurt Staudter, director of the Vermont Brewers Association, had this to say in response to legislation to lower the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers: “I’m really sick and tired of the new prohibitionists and what they’re trying to do to vilify alcohol in this country. This is a value-added sector in Vermont, and we’re vilifying it.”

It’s worth noting that craft brewing has shown incredible growth as an industry in the last decade. In 2012 alone, craft brewing grew by 15 percent in volume, and 17 percent in dollars. Furthermore, there were more than 2400 breweries operating in the U.S. in 2012, the highest total since the 1880s!

Much of this growth has been due to state and municipal law changes allowing for easier distribution, higher volumes of beer production and higher alcohol contents. How is asking drinkers to be responsible with their alcohol consumption and driving “vilifying” brewing? It has yet to be seen if this law will change drinking and driving behavior in Vermont. But to attack this piece of legislation on the grounds that it hurts the food and beverage industry financially is deplorable at best.

I challenge Mr. Staudter to stand in front of a room of family members of those killed or injured by drunk drivers and give them the arithmetic on how having a designated driver or taking a cab home will lead to the collapse of a brewing industry that is as financially sound as ever. I hope the fine craft brewers of Vermont don’t share this view.

Krystian Bigosinski


Nokes Is a Victim

[Re “Why Prosecutors Asked a Grand Jury Whether to Charge a Winooski Cop,” July 17; “Troubles Mount for a Winooski Cop With a Checkered Past,” July 24]: It’s obvious that Corporal Nokes is the victim of malicious prosecution by a prosecutor, Donovan, who has frustrated political aspirations and now, with his constituency of liberal, cop-hating misfits, hopes to play Crusader Rabbit and become Vermont attorney general on the back of a police officer who was only doing his job. And what about all the other police officers who will now second guess themselves and hesitate before doing their own jobs, thereby placing themselves and the public at risk?

Joe Uptegrove