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

Published October 30, 2013 at 4:37 a.m.

Smack Down

I was a little shocked to see the graphic image of a heroin user in the “By the Numbers” posting [Last 7, October 23]. Rather than glamorizing drug use and sales by pointing out the $126,000 street value, a more salient number would be the cost to Vermont taxpayers to “house” these thugs — from hiring and training a police officer to staking out the dealers, court costs, prison costs from sending them to Kentucky, etc. 

I never know what to do with media information regarding drug arrests. Am I supposed to be shocked? Form a community watch? How many plants are too many and how much drug money is supposed to make my jaw drop? I could use $126,000 right now, but maybe it’s a good idea not to tell the kids how to make illicit profits.

The bigger question is what happens when the two out-of-towners get released? If the sentence was, say, milking cows for 10 years rather than a stint in jail, I’ll bet many dealers would find more legitimate work.

Sadly, as with gun violence, I’ve become comfortably numb to drug arrests. A mention in the news is like a report on littering — it’s just life in America.

Steve Handley


State versus Software

I appreciated Ken Picard’s piece on the state of State IT, “Code Blew” [October 16]. Lessons 1 and 3 put forth in the article are lessons with which agile open-source software developers are well acquainted. My hope is these lessons are the start of a process whereby the State of Vermont embraces both agile and open source. ?

As an endorsement of open source, I would replace the negative formulation of Lesson 1 with an alternative, positive version: “Buy and implement existing systems that are open and supported by a large, invested community.” When it comes to software, as important as not being a guinea pig (“Don’t buy unproven systems”) is not being locked into specific vendors or tools, and the open-source movement has proven itself repeatedly in this regard. I believe we are in an important systemic shift toward accepting open-source enterprise software, and those who do not embrace it will be left behind. ?

Lesson 3 is textbook (or should I say manifesto?) agile thinking. I thought David Bradbury’s numbers regarding the failure percentages of IT projects were interesting, but I believe they were based on the traditional development methodologies that have been the state standard over the last two decades. Projects that utilize an agile methodology have a quite different failure-rate profile. A recent Dr. Dobb’s survey found that 60 percent of agile projects were complete successes, 28 percent were partial successes (delivered but missing some components) and 12 percent were outright failures.

Recently, there have been some encouraging signs from some quarters of the State of Vermont — including the sources in Picard’s article — that it understands the benefits of being open, nimble and agile. Here’s to hoping this thinking takes root and prospers.

Michael Howe


Slow Speeds for Most Vermonters

The recent publicity blitz about BTV Ignite attempts to focus celebration and attention on the high bandwidth internet access that is available to residents of Burlington [“Techie Transformations,” October 16]. Those with gigabit access in Burlington represent fewer than 10 percent of the residents of Vermont. Many of the rest of us, who live in the “real” Vermont with cows and mountains, have to get by on 1.5 Mb/sec internet connections. This is due, in part, to the Vermont legislature lowering the bar to that ridiculous level in the past, by defining “broadband” as 1.5 Mb/sec. Why should the vast majority of those in Vermont have internet access at speeds less than 1 percent of the gigabit rates that exist in, and now are celebrated in, Burlington? ?We should be focusing on the real issue and problem, which is that most Vermonters do not have adequate internet access speeds, rather than celebrating the fact that 10 percent of the state does. How will BTV Ignite solve the real problems in Vermont? And when will the Vermont legislature start building out the fiber networks that every town in Vermont needs?

Jon Bondy


The Problem with ’Ponics

I just read an article in your newspaper entitled “Endless Summer” [October 9]. I was surprised that the information in the article extolled the virtues of Green Mountain Harvest Hydroponics without going into any detail of how the plants were grown. Most hydroponic operations use large amounts of chemical fertilizers in water to grow plants without using soil. Some operations use liquid manure or seaweed-fish emulsion solutions in water.

I guess I have a bias. I’ve been an organic grower for over 40 years as well as a garden writer. I prefer to grow my plants the old-fashioned way — that is, in soil with compost, manure and weed teas, rock powders and green manures. When I harvest my crinkly lettuce and spinach in the fall, I cut off the dirty roots and throw them in the compost pile. My greens are not silky, smooth and soft like hydroponic greens but have lots of taste and a little grit, which I mostly wash off. ??

I also don’t grow my plants in large, heated greenhouses but in what I call “woodchuck greenhouses,” or cold frames. Large greenhouses are artificial environments where you’ll never get the taste of a sun-ripened tomato like you do in your garden. The hydroponic plants may look perfect, but that’s about it. As they say, “Give us this day our daily illusion.” ?I don’t need to have a locavore salad from a greenhouse every week while the snow is flying about. A carrot and cabbage salad will suffice.

Ron Krupp

South Burlington

“In-Filling” a Need

I applaud Champlain College’s decision to purchase a vacant property on King Street with the intention of constructing student housing [“Demand for Urban Housing Brings Building Projects to Burlington’s Old North End,” October 16]. UVM could learn a thing or two from Champlain — a local institution helping to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing options, especially in locations close to downtown. Stu McGowan sums it up nicely with his crusade to begin “in-filling” unused or vacant lots throughout the North End. Case in point: The site of the former dentist office on Pearl Street that burned down in 2011 would be a prime spot for residential development. This sizable property is in a central location and would make a great spot for a multistory loft. I’m not sure if UVM is in the business to make this bold and reasonable purchase, but I hope that developers have their sights set on this property.

Andrew Fusco


Wrong on The Crucible

The production didn’t breathe life into the play [“Devil in the Details,” October 16]? Please! It evoked some of the strongest emotions I’ve ever experienced in a theater. They weren’t fun. They were wrenching!

I have seldom been as moved by a play as I was in Montpelier last week at Lost Nation’s production of The Crucible.  Seldom have I felt such fear. This production evoked everything good theater promises. I hope your review doesn’t deter other theatergoers from stepping into a tormented piece of our history.

Clara Bond


Ice-Cream Mogul Misguided

The way that Ben Cohen has decided to engage Vermont’s elected officials on the F-35 is nothing short of a disappointment [Fair Game, October 9]. Those officials have taken a position and explained their respective rationales for staking out those positions. Because he doesn’t agree, Cohen has determined that these men lack “redeeming social benefits.”

It is Cohen’s approach to debate and dialogue that is lacking. The current morass we find ourselves in down in Washington is based, in part, on just this kind of juvenile name-calling. With regard to Leahy, it is telling that in a recent profile of Cohen in Vermont Business Magazine, Leahy is quoted as saying of Cohen, “He speaks his mind often, and often with great flair. That doesn’t mean that Vermonters always agree with him, but Vermonters respect his energy and enthusiasm.”

Cohen’s remarks go beyond “flair” in this instance, and it is a shame that a person whose position in Vermont affords him this opportunity to speak and be heard has decided to denigrate our representatives and the very dialogue he hopes to advance. Respect, Mr. Cohen, should be a two-way street.

Doug Bishop