Letters to the Editor
February 13, 2008
Kudos to Burlington economist Doug Hoffer for acknowledging Vermont’s crucial building and construction trades [“Is Vermont’s ‘Brain Drain’ Reality or Rhetoric?” January 23]. The trades have long been a vital part of Vermont’s job market, but are unfortunately largely ignored by the politicians and pundits kvetching about the loss of young, high-tech professionals.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 300 represents nearly 1200 Vermonters, 300 of which work in electrical construction. We also offer a top-notch, five-year apprenticeship at our South Burlington headquarters for young people and career-change candidates looking to join the trade. Local 300 electricians earn a livable wage, fully paid health, dental, vision and life insurances, as well as a best-in-class retirement package. Most importantly, these socially responsible, highly specialized union construction jobs cannot be outsourced.
Clearly, the trades are here to stay, and it’s high time experts besides Mr. Hoffer publicly recognize that.
Matthew A.M. Lash
Lash is the marketing and business development director at IBEW Local 300.
Exceptional, to read words that inspire hope [“Former Israeli and Palestinian Fighters Talk in Burlington,” January 23]. I was born into Islam, and my grandfather Ali Mohamed emigrated from Yemen in 1914. He purchased a farm in 1929 in Troy, N.Y. His best friend was a German Jewish man named Marvin Ginsberg, also a farmer. Best friends respect each other, and both were very intelligent and successful. When they spoke of Israel and Palestine, you knew these men cared for each other, as they never disrespected each other. A two-state solution is long overdue.
I was in Home Depot a couple of years ago, I saw this man who I thought was Muslim, I said “Aslam wa alikoom” (hello). He said, “Wa ali koom aslam” (I’m Jewish)! I said, “Shalom!” and we had a very interesting experience in the paint aisle. I think he was a rabbi. Anyway, I couldn’t tell the difference between a Jewish man or a Muslim one because they do dress and look the same, as we are Semitic people anyway.
FEAR OF OFFENSIVENESS?
I am very sorry to hear that the SEABA Board has adopted “respect for the community’s values” as a litmus test for future Art Hop submissions [“SEABA Board Addresses 2007 Controversy,” January 16]. It sounds innocuous enough. However, the best art challenges people’s assumptions, moving them beyond their aesthetic or political or cultural comfort zones. It makes people see things and think about things in new ways.
I am not advocating that avowed racists like the Nazi Party be allowed to hijack events like the Art Hop for propaganda purposes. However, inviting Joel Kovel to speak in conjunction with Peter Schumann’s murals was a far cry from this. Kovel is a respected, if controversial, academic. His current book, Overcoming Zionism, expresses an opinion that is debatable but definitely not anti-Semitic or racist. Because a group responded viscerally to what he had to say does not make him a racist. If anything, the controversy got many people thinking and talking about the role of art in society, and about the many issues raised by Schumann’s art and Kovel’s book, which is a good thing.
In this country, we see more and more self-censorship out of corporate sponsors’ fear of offending anyone. I hope the SEABA will not fall prey to this trend.
I just wanted to voice my support for this incredible project [“Stowe Seventh-Grader Organizes a Down-hill Race for an Uphill Battle”]. I think it is wonderful that a young man has the drive and motivation to pursue such an event.
NO FAITH IN BIKE LAWS
Seeing is believing, if police actually enforce any laws regarding bicyclist safety [“Bike Advocates Ask for Room on the Road,” January 30]. A case in point is an incident that happened to me two years ago while riding home from work through Colchester. I was obeying the road rules, but a driver in a huge pickup truck laid on his horn and decided to swerve his truck into me; I thought he was going to run me over. There was a witness that called the Colchester police to complain, and I filed a complaint also, because I had the driver’s license plate number.
After several calls and stops to the police department after filing the complaint to see if there was any follow-up, I was basically blown off by the assigned officer. The truck driver that harassed me for no reason got away with it. In my mind, this driver threatened to hurt me with his vehicle, not unlike threatening bodily harm with a gun or fist. Therefore, I don’t have much faith in [the police] enforcing bicycle-safety laws, at least in Colchester.
MORAN PLANT NOT WORTH IT
I agree with Owen Mulligan concerning the high rate of taxes already borne by the residents of Burlington [“Competing Balloting Measures Ask Burlington Voters to Decide Moran Plant’s Fate,” January 30]. Despite the estimated “ripple effect” of this project, I would rather the city use the $7 million to improve our existing infrastructure and help relieve the property tax burden. In addition, this project would contribute to further congestion near Waterfront Park, eventually creating the need for more roads, access and parking. In my opinion, 54 years does not constitute a historic structure and does not warrant repairing and rebuilding at all costs.
FOCUS ON VT YANKEE
Marc Awodey does not get it. In a review of “Let There Be Light,” the current show at Barre’s Studio Place Arts, Awodey describes Steve Conant’s piece “Deferred Maintenance” [“Shine On,” January 30]. He says, “It consists of a leaking pipe, apparently from an antediluvian basement, seeping frothy water into a steel maintenance bucket, in which a spotlight is ingeniously submerged.” He does tell the reader that a sign, “FOR RADIOACTIVE WASTE ONLY, DO NOT EMPTY,” is pasted across the front of the bucket. Awodey goes on to say that Conant is depicting “a custodian’s nightmare.” He does not understand that Conant is trying to name our nightmare, not a custodian’s.
You and I live in a state that houses Vermont Yankee, a nuclear plant that is old, deteriorated and dangerous. The plant is scheduled to close in 2012. The owners have already increased the output of this aged plant by 20 percent. In the process they have increased the dangerous radioactive emissions by an even larger percentage. Now the owners want permission to extend the life of Vermont Yankee long past its planned retirement. Awodey’s inability “to get it’” is just another example of the difficulty we have thinking clearly about something that is so scary. It is exactly why we need such gifted artists as Steve Conant. They help us focus our minds.
Mary Field Belenky
CARBON TRADING A MISTAKE
I want to thank John Margolis for bringing attention to the important issue of carbon trading in his article “Carbon Copy?” [January 30]. Margolis points out that Governor Douglas’ Climate Commission came up with 38 strategies to help Vermont deal with global warming, but instead Douglas proposes to make Vermont a carbon-trading leader.
Global Justice Ecology Project (incorrectly referred to in article as Global Justice Energy Fund) has worked internationally on the problem of carbon trading and false solutions to climate change for several years. In 2004 we co-founded The Durban Group for Climate Justice, which has researched the topic in depth, producing a book entitled Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power (available online).
The book reveals carbon trading has been a disaster with regard to addressing climate change. It has, however, been a great success for big polluters who make millions in profits while doing nothing to curtail their CO2 emissions. The European Emissions Trading Scheme is widely recognized as a failure. That Governor Douglas wants to haul Vermont’s pristine green image into that morass is horrifying.
The most effective way to address global warming: Reduce consumption of fossil fuels and the products that use them in their manufacture and transport. We have to keep oil and coal in the ground. If we do not, but continue to believe we can address the problem through phony, profit-oriented “solutions” like carbon trading, it is our children and grandchildren who will pay for our climate sins.
Petermann is co-director or the Global Justice Ecology Project.
A brilliant, insightful piece [“Man Enough,” January 30]. Clinton’s moist-eyed (she did not cry) moment in Manchester, N.H., opened me to the possibility of supporting her, but I think for a different reason than (or a reason in addition to) those [Judith] Levine cites. Clinton put out there that she is passionate about justice making this a better world. I’ve thought of her as too wooden in the interest of nothing in particular, or power for its own sake. I now accept her woodenness as the price of trying to be a woman and a man at the same time, and holding that terrific tension all inside. And I admire her for doing it — from my own life, I know it ain’t easy, as Levine points out.
I’m writing to thank [Kirk Kardashian] for the very well written article that he pulled together for the tech biz issue of Seven Days [“Sensor and Sensibility,” January 23].
We’ve received many compliments on the article, and I’m sure that it helped us at the [Vermont 3.0] Career Jam, where we talked with lots of prospective new hires. And now we’re being hit with a flood of great resumes from qualified applicants! Thanks again!
Arms is president of MicroStrain, Inc.