Letters to the Editor
A Real Vote on Socioeconomic Integration
[Re: “Burlington’s Choice: Will a School Board Vote Make Socioeconomic Integration Official?” June 1]: Amy Werbel and her surreptitious, back-door school policy change that forces a child to be bussed back and forth across town at the discretion of school administrators seems cowardly. Many Burlington parents don’t want socioeconomic integration forced on them; they want their children to be able to walk to the neighborhood school down the street. Before she inks this bullet point on her CV, she should do the right thing and bring it to a referendum for the citizens of Burlington.
Garrison Nelson’s indignant letter to the editor [“Feedback,” June 15] makes questionable use of an embarrassing private affair to insinuate all sorts of public malfeasance at the University of Vermont. In particular, he goes out of his way to slam UVM’s provost, Jane Knodell, whose principal sin seems to be that she once served on Burlington’s city council. In a single sentence, filled with snide innuendo, he also manages to suggest that Dr. Knodell, a Stanford-educated economist, is both unqualified to serve in her present position and complicit in covering up a bogus dissertation approved by Michael Schultz’s faculty committee. If Nelson truly believes his peers within UVM’s Department of Education to have been remiss in approving a dissertation of insufficient length, he should take it up with them, instead of taking cheap shots at the provost. His misdirected letter seems more about settling vague personal scores than offering constructive advice for “cleaning house” at an institution that has generously employed him for nearly 43 years.
John E. Davis
“One” More Corner Store
I love the “corner store” culture of Burlington [“The Shop Around the Corner,” June 15] and would like to give a shout-out to the wonderful new incarnation of the store on the corner of St. Paul and Howard streets, the One Love Market. The owners are neighborly and family friendly and sell a great variety of local and basic products. They also cook up some delicious and ridiculously reasonably priced breakfast and lunch sandwiches, as well as tasty beverages and ice cream. Best of luck to them!
Hackie Nailed It
My wife and I are on vacation in Madison, Wisc. While hanging out this morning, I read in Seven Days about [Jernigan Pontiac] purchasing a new cab [Hackie, “The New Steed,” June 1]. The more I read, the more I came to wonder if the car he bought was one that once belonged to . . . my wife’s great-uncle. He lived in Essex Junction, had a car that was similar to the Buick [Pontiac] described, was in the navy during WWII and loved Eddy Arnold. Plus, he really would have been spinning in his grave if “Jenny” had sold it too cheaply. Also, we have a picture of Donald, or D.E., as we called him, with the parrot on his shoulder.
Am I to believe that, given the choice, the population of Burlington would approve this ratio [“Burlington’s Choice: Will a School Board Vote Make Socioeconomic Integration Official?” June 1]? The plan proposed changes the entire city’s sense of community, neighborhoods, walking versus bussing to school and the general expectations involved in purchasing a home — the largest personal investment most families make. And it passed by 86 to 14 percent?
Are kids going to be bussed by charter bus or CCTA? What are the added personnel and administrative costs, if any, should the tax value of houses be reassessed up or down, as they are no longer tied to school location? Do all Burlingtonians know that the change might take their preferred and expected school choice away and change their child’s pick-up and drop-off schedule? There are a whole host of issues that were not discussed but that we’ll have to live with and pay for after the fact should this measure be finalized in August.
All I ask for is full disclosure for the city of Burlington and, with so much at stake, a direct . . . say in deciding the city’s future. If the general population of Burlington votes for this change, I would not think twice about it going forward. But don’t ask me to accept the recent vote by the school board as the majority will of Burlington. In my opinion, 86 percent to 14 percent does not reflect that.
Who Can Afford Sustainability?
I love the idea of Transition Towns [“Descending the Peak,” June 8] and that so many people are gathering to proactively investigate these concepts, but I still have some questions and concerns.
For instance, how do natural buildings stand up to the kind of extreme weather we’ve been experiencing in recent years (like thunderstorms, hurricane remnants and flooding rains) compared with their concrete and pressure-treated counterparts built to new codes?
Regarding homesteading, I own a whopping .05 of an acre, none of it farmable, and with the land prices and ever-increasing property taxes, there’s no way I could afford to buy a larger plot, especially being long-term underemployed thanks to the economic crash. How does this movement address the transition that needs to occur in government, especially at the local level, in order to facilitate these sustainability practices? Or is it all left up to the individuals in a community to work it out?
One could argue that a high-paying job isn’t needed if you’re self-sustaining, but land isn’t free, and you need somewhere to set up shop. Human history dictates that we all start out wanting to share, but our nature is to eventually take advantage of those we can exploit for our own gain.
It would be awesome if you folks could do a follow-up article addressing these kinds of issues. Most of the information I’ve seen to date on these towns trumpets the benefits, but very little of it mentions the underlying practicalities involved.
Loved Rick Kisonak’s review of Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams! He was spot on about this wonderfully weird film, but just needed to give the movie a couple more stars! There is no one like Herzog in the film world now. He has been remarkably consistent in his cosmic weirdness since his early, intriguingly bizarre documentaries of the ’60s … such as the old man — last man on the island — singing as the mountain of La Soufrière threatens to explode just above him.
And when Herzog asks about whether the prehistoric men had souls or whether they cried at night, he was wondering the same about both Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre going up or down the Amazon, the same for Timothy Treadwell in his quest to bond with Alaskan grizzlies. And why, after all, did Little Dieter really need to fly?
If anything, Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a continuation of the work of a filmmaker who believes in the world as a series of continued myths and folk tales from the Stone Age on. Like the hypnotized cast of his movie Heart of Glass, there is a certain ecstasy in Herzog’s films and in the making of them. Hopefully, Mr. Kisonak’s review will urge the readers to check into the amazing body of Herzog’s work … [He] brings to the world of film something needed and mostly lost in this age of CGI technical perfection — a hint of the primitive and a beautiful sense of wonder!
No More Government Mandates
Gov. Shumlin is to be commended for his veto of S.77, which would have mandated testing all new water wells for several trace contaminants at a typical cost to the homeowner of $160 [“Shumlin’s Veto of Well-Water-Testing Bill Ignores Public Health Risk,” June 8]. An extensive public education campaign is most certainly called for, but do we need yet another mandate emerging from that Pandora’s box in Montpelier? Currently, a state permit is required to even drill a water well.
Environmental, safety and aesthetic regulations are an ever-increasing financial burden on the average Vermont homeowner and renter. In the last generation, nanny-state zealotry has imposed on us $20,000 mound septic systems, hardwired smoke detectors and unrealistic restrictions on wood-fired boilers. This creeping zealotry will eventually lead to mandatory testing for other household hazards, such as radon gas and mold. And, of course, remediation of these hazards will then be required.
Most Vermonters would prefer that their legislature stay out of their bedrooms and out of their wombs. Consistent with that, Sen. Lyons and Rep. Deen, please stay out of our water systems.
Thank you, Ken Picard, for [“Shumlin’s Veto of Well-Water-Testing Bill Ignores Public Health Risk,” June 8]. S.77 would have required private wells be tested for naturally occurring hazardous contaminants to prevent acute poisoning, sponsored by Sen. Ginny Lyons of Williston.
“Vetoverride” is a new word for a new concept: veto override by voter referendum, not by the politically manipulated legislature. And, if successful, vetoverride is followed by an automatic voter referendum for recall. As things stand, harmful vetoes are costless to libertarian/loony governors.
Leave Well Enough Alone
The government needs to stay out of our lives [“Shumlin’s Veto of Well-Water-Testing Bill Ignores Public Health Risk,” June 8]. Common sense dictates you would test your water. You check your food before you eat it. Check your water before you drink it.
The Coburns need to know the negative aspects of drinking reverse-osmosis water, too! It has absolutely no nutritional value since there are no minerals to be absorbed into the body. In fact, it could cause calcium loss or osteoporosis. Magnesium, calcium and sodium are necessary minerals needed to properly hydrate a body. Reverse-osmosis water has none!
All the healthy “bottled” water drinkers out there will experience the same lack of nutritional value, too, if they don’t read the labels on their bottles. Many brands, including some top companies, use reverse-osmosis water, not mineral water.