Letters to the Editor (3/15/23) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

News + Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor (3/15/23)


Published March 15, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated March 16, 2023 at 11:10 a.m.

True 'Champion'

[Re "Local Actor Casey Metcalfe Appears in Champions With Woody Harrelson," March 3]: Sally Pollak's piece on the new Woody Harrelson movie costarring local actor Casey Metcalfe captured the love of life Casey demonstrates every day. It is infectious.

Casey and I have never actually met but somehow became Facebook friends a couple of years ago. His posts, on everything from his pet chicken to work to the joys of the Burlington waterfront, are a daily delight. No matter the topic, they exude fun and happiness and have a contagious positivity we could all emulate. I look forward to his posts popping up in my feed, and they never fail to put a smile on my face.

The same spirit came through in Pollak's interview, filled with intelligence, humor and openness.

I saw Casey on the Burlington waterfront last summer and almost introduced myself to tell him how much I enjoy his posts. It appeared he was in the middle of an animated French lesson, so I demurred. Next time I'll make the introduction and maybe ask for an autograph.

Thanks for the great story.

Steve Costello

Rutland Town

S.100 Is Not the Answer

According to Seven Days ["Site Work: Bills Would Chip Away at Rules Curbing Home Construction," March 8], the solution to Vermont's housing crisis is found in the S.100 bill pending in the Senate, and that solution is further environmental deregulation and reliance on the "invisible hand" of market forces. Much blame is placed on alleged Act 250 horror stories and delays. In fact, senators have acknowledged that this position is based largely on anecdotes unsubstantiated by actual case studies and available data. The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs had no time for testimony countervailing the anecdotes as it rammed S.100 through the process.

S.100 is now in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, which has at least accepted testimony from Thomas Weiss and myself providing demonstrable proof that Act 250 is not to blame and that there are other factors much more responsible for the crisis that has been allowed to build over decades: the failure to ensure a workforce for construction of affordable housing; the effects of the Airbnb vampires on what used to be full-time residential housing; and the staggering vacancy rate of housing in Vermont — tied with Maine for No. 1 in the U.S. Anne Wallace Allen did not find it necessary to examine any of this in her article.

History shows that the neoliberal strategy of deregulation and market forces works, right? What about the North American Free Trade Agreement, unconstrained energy utilities, the savings and loan collapse, and internet platform monopolies? How tragic that Senate leadership is willing to throw Act 250 under the bus.

Ed Stanak

Barre City

Volunteering an Opinion

Thank you so much for your reporting highlighting the challenges of first response agencies statewide ["On Life Support," March 1]. This will help more people understand the real costs of providing emergency services. I hope many who haven't thought about it will realize that they should not take these essential services for granted.

As a volunteer firefighter, I feel I must comment on a subtle but important use of words in Paula Routly's column the same week [From the Publisher: "Call and Response"]. She points out how Burlington's full-time first responders are all professional, which is 100 percent correct. A couple of paragraphs later, though, she draws a contrast between professional and volunteer emergency responders. This is not a fair comparison.

Across Vermont, volunteer emergency responders are part of the same training programs, are required to achieve the same certifications and are held to the same professional standards as career emergency providers. Whether responding thousands of times a year, as is the case in Burlington, or less than 100 times a year, as in many rural fire departments, all Vermont emergency responders bring professionalism to every incident.

Whether volunteer or career, we are all professionals.

Nathan Goldman


Editor's note: The adjective "professional" was chosen to differentiate volunteer emergency personnel from those who are paid for their service. It was not a comment on the quality of the work.

Milk Memories

Kudos to Peter Carreiro for keeping milk in glass bottles alive, as well as home deliveries. I enjoyed the article "Glass Act" by Rachel Mullis in the March 1 issue of Seven Days. It brought back fond memories of our family going to Connecticut from Massachusetts to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins who owned a family dairy farm, Drabik Farms. Uncle Fred and his brother did a similar thing as Carreiro, along with milking and bottling. Uncle Fred and Aunt Bertha lived well into their nineties, and I know that fresh milk, as well as eating their own fruits and veggies, contributed to this. Thanks for the uplifting article.

Casmera Tagliamonte


McCallum's 'Blind Spot'

Thanks for publishing my letter [Feedback: "Milk Money," February 8] in which I observed that Kevin McCallum's report on a proposed "over-order pricing" premium on milk handlers to subsidize all dairy farms had "an enormous blind spot." He can't bring himself to explain just who is paying for this scheme.

The answer is: Everyone who drinks milk and consumes dairy products will be made to pay for this and will likely never discover why the prices they pay are jacked up to support prosperous dairy farms as well as struggling ones.

Now comes Kevin with an enthusiastic account of the "clean heat standard" legislation, shamefully relabeled the Affordable Heat Act ["Senate Committee Advances the Latest Clean Heat Bill," February 17, online]. Kevin tells us, correctly, that resistance to this multibillion-dollar scheme to drive out heating oil, propane and natural gas comes from fossil fuel dealers worried about going out of business. He does mention that "the conservative Ethan Allen Institute has called it a stealth carbon tax," but he didn't ask us for an explanation.

Once again, Kevin can't overcome his blind spot. Who is going to be made to pay all this? The answer is: everyone who uses heating oil, propane and natural gas. You can't get that crucial fact from Kevin. That's left for perspicacious readers to figure out.

The "clean heat standard" is yet another example of an interest group capturing government to extract money from people who won't know why the prices they pay are going up. Responsible journalism should help readers to understand this.

John McClaughry


McClaughry is the founder and vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Vermont Lovers in Vegas

Just an amusing note regarding the "More About 251 Club" letter [Feedback, February 22]. Many years ago, my wife and I were on vacation in Las Vegas, waiting for a show to start. We were seated with a couple from California, who asked if we were members of the 251 Club. We had never heard of it. We learned of this great enterprise while in Nevada from a couple from California. Small world.

After we got back home to Vermont, we researched the club, joined, and started our quest to visit all 251 cities, towns and gores. It took 12 years. We have since been attending the club's annual meetings in Montpelier and sharing stories.

Ron Alderman


'Leave. Those. Books. Alone!'

[Re "Battle of the Books," February 22]: It is with extreme horror that I learned of the plan to turn the libraries of the Vermont State Colleges System into a digital-only system. Computers and the internet have their uses, but they cannot replace books. I learned a lot from the books I read, studied and enjoyed when I was attending Johnson State College. Books have, well, "bookonality": the paper, the type, artwork and pictures. They can be read anywhere and anytime when there is light. Even if one falls asleep while reading, one can pick up again where one dozed off. Books don't need recharging and cannot be hacked. They can be burned by book haters, but not hacked.

In sum, keep the books and libraries for current and future students to study, learn and enjoy. Leave. Those. Books. Alone!

Bryan Nepveu


Nepveu graduated from Johnson State College in 1996.

Support the State Colleges

[Re "Battle of the Books," February 22]: I was stunned by the news that books were going to be taken out of Vermont State Colleges System libraries and perhaps thrown in the river, like Hulagu Khan's army reportedly did in Baghdad in 1258!

Vermonters need a decent library nearby with print and digital resources that offer the best access to information and the process of researching, as we have now in the state college libraries. We also have interlibrary loan, which is threatened by having no books.

Students have told me they don't all work well digitally; it gives some people headaches. Students already spend many hours at school looking at screens in class. Working digitally is less personal and makes it harder to focus.

Working from print, the energy is different.

You are usually alone when working on a computer, whereas a library can be a place for collaborative learning; students can work around a table taking notes. How could you replace browsing in the bookshelves with a digital library? Mediocre access to the internet and cell service would limit home research in rural areas.

The legislature must give more money to the state colleges. Keep the liberal arts and history courses, the renowned fine arts department, drama, the athletics programs. Lower tuition would attract more students. Students must not end up with so much debt.

I fear that the proposed changes to the libraries and athletics could cause death from a thousand cuts. We don't want the state colleges to fail!

Marjorie Kramer


'Private' Police?

My first concern as I read ["Crime Pays," January 24] was in paragraph two: off-duty Burlington police working a liability-waived side job, "in marked city cruisers, wearing their department-issued uniforms, badges and guns."

Suppose they were hired instead by management to "police" a picket line and to detain/neutralize anyone who tries to stop nonunion workers, aka "scabs," from crossing the line? How is it they get to wear their work clothes, badges and guns — and drive city cars — while paid handsomely to enforce private objectives?

Michael Billingsley


Another Theory...

[Re "Money for Her Run: Court Filing Reveals How Crypto Moguls Tarnished a Historic Vermont Election," March 1]: What I am curious about is the fact that U.S. Rep. Becca Balint promoted the new abortion amendment to the Vermont Constitution while simultaneously receiving indirect funding from FTX, and FTX was involved with cryptocurrency, and the abortion industry uses cryptocurrency for some of its transactions. So is that the real issue that no one in Vermont wants to talk about?

Maybe FTX gave its donation to the LGBTQ Victory Fund based on the agreement that it would go toward electing Balint because FTX really wanted the abortion amendment to pass, which would increase profits for the abortion industry, which thrives on donated fetuses for research that generates huge profits for pharmaceutical corporations inventing new medical prescriptions or vaccines, and the abortion industry often prefers to do business with cryptocurrency.

So was that the main goal — to have more cryptocurrency financial transactions for which FTX would expect a percentage of profit per each transaction?

Cris Ericson


Lyme Line

[Re "Lyme Disease Vaccine Trial Ends Abruptly, Surprising Participants," February 22, online]: Like Dan Tolle, I was surprised but have found out more about the circumstances. I traveled to Londonderry, N.H., since the two Vermont study sites were booked.

I qualified and was enrolled, receiving the first dose and an appointment for the second dose.

When I emailed to confirm my travel back to Londonderry, I was told the appointment was canceled. Later calls and emails have informed me that 1) my participation in the study was canceled; and 2) I would be scheduled for a final telephone appointment, and I would be told whether the dose I received was the study drug or placebo, which was my specific request, as I keep careful health records.

Moreover: I received an automated email thanking me for my interest in the study but saying that enrollment had closed. Then the data really crashed: I received postal mail to my address, addressed to another individual — the same letter I had received explaining there were potential violations of good clinical practice at the clinical trial sites operated by a third party, which caused Pfizer to reconsider the third party's involvement.

Pfizer doesn't name this third party, but my copy of the study agreement identifies it as Care Access. On the website, one can read a response to Pfizer's decision to discontinue its involvement.

Final disclosure: I've participated in five previous clinical studies and can happily report this experience is the exception.

Frederick Pond

Barre City


Last week's story "Site Work: Bills Would Chip Away at Rules Curbing Home Construction" included an outdated name for a legislative committee. The committee's name was changed in January to House Committee on Environment and Energy.

The story titled "Not Just a Job" also contained errors: Vermont Works for Women rents, but does not own, a home in Middlebury; the University of Vermont's Liberal Arts in Prison Program provides enrichment opportunities, but not classes, for incarcerated people in Vermont.