Letters to the Editor
On the Whine List?
Kudos to Bob Conlon for his delicate and thoughtful explanation behind the large wine glass ad [Feedback, October 26]! The interpretation by Hope Johnson [Feedback, October 18] was so far off base that Bill Buckner could have got an out! I love Leunig’s for their food, their ambience and their presence on Church Street. I would never doubt their advertising choices or their causes. As a longtime attendee of breakfast with Bob in the ’90s, I feel qualified to support Leunig’s as long as I can. I may just drop in for a glass of wine today after I send this off, and I truly hope that it will contribute to help solve the puzzle of this horrible disease that has taken so many of my family and friends ... and yours. By the way, Miss Johnson, your finding a large glass of wine in a fight-cancer ad is not “ironic.” It is “fantastic,” don’t you think? Thanks, Bob!
[Re “A New Law Sponsored by Sen. Leahy Targets ‘Patent Trolls,’” October 26]: The “anti-inventor act” of 2011 does not stop “patent trolls,” and they perform a useful service. If your hypothetical woodcutter infringer was in Maine and was infringing a patent to a Vermont resident, you would want the infringement stopped or for the infringer to get a license and become legal. Leahy’s bill is a big-business giveaway, which hurts small inventors, not patent trolls. It is full of earmarks, Wall Street banks, particular law firms and drug companies, Microsoft and big software, etc. Your article is an editorial, not legitimate reporting. Your facts are wrong, and your conclusions are, too.
St. Louis, Mo.
I remember having designed the graphics for Craig Kelley’s Mystery Air board back in the late ’80s and was psyched to see this article [“Craig’s Place,” October 19].
Governor v. Union
[Re: Fair Game, October 12]: I sent a letter to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers during Gov. Peter Shumlin’s campaign, warning them that it was a bad idea to back a Republican for governor. Almost always the Democrats are pro-union. Seems Shummy is not. This indicates that Shummy’s first term may end up his last; after all, he got in by a thin margin, so acts against state workers and lying about what happened will only prove bad for his next run. His “with us or against us” attitude is disturbing, to say the least. Haven’t we heard that rhetoric before? Kind of hard to tell whose side this administration is on.
David P. Bresett
Facts About Preschool
I am writing in response to the recent article on the Blue Bungalow daycare run by Andy Murphy, in which many of the statements about public preschool are misleading [“Working for Play,” October 5].
I work for the Early Childhood Programs as part of the Franklin Central Supervisory Union. We run five sessions of preschool in three different settings that follow a similar flow as Mr. Murphy’s schedule. There is a fluid arrival time of activities, followed by a morning circle, often filled with songs, and at least an hour of “choice time.” Some classrooms offer “family-style” snacks around a table, and others offer it as an option during “explore time” to better meet the needs of their students. The statement that there are “so many transitions in the public school” seems to be based on an impression of schedules at the elementary, not preschool, level.
While Mr. Murphy’s statement about public education being “hamstrung by test-centered, not student-centered, curricula” might apply to elementary school, it is hard to build that case for preschool, as there are no tests given at this level. I could give many examples of spontaneous lessons that occur in our programs, embedding many subject areas in smooth, engaging learning.
Our connections to the school district allow us to attend conferences, consult with specialists and participate in kindergarten transitions. And, because we have access to state and federal funds, students attend the FCSU preschool programs for free. Please don’t let your readers think that what Mr. Murphy offers cannot be found in a public school.
All for Ashe
[Re Fair Game, November 2]: I have lived and worked in Burlington for 40 years. The election of Tim Ashe as mayor is the best hope for Burlington’s future. He has the temperament, intelligence, experience, education and outlook to ensure that Burlington is a desirable city in which to live and to work. He has a feel for the city, for a plurality of political perspectives and an understanding of how it can prosper for the many, not the few, without putting a “for sale” sign on the city’s most treasured assets, such as BED.
Who is the real Tim Ashe [Fair Game, October 26]? As a Burlington voter who is an independent, I have been following the mayoral race with interest.
I can’t understand why the Democrats are so hesitant to point out the obvious about Tim Ashe. He is a Progressive who appears uncomfortable running as a Progressive. Ashe says he is a “fusion” candidate. That means he expects Democrats to support him while he works for Progressives. Check out the YouTube video of “Democrat” Tim Ashe nominating Bob Kiss for mayor in 2009 and singing the praises of Bob Kiss while dissing Democrat Andy Montroll.
Ashe says he isn’t doing the “expedient” thing by running as a Democrat. Who is he trying to kid? He is doing the most opportunistic thing he could do by using Democrats for his own political gain.
Watch another YouTube video of Ashe denying there were any major problems with Burlington Telecom and thanking Bob Kiss and Jonathan Leopold for all the wonderful work they have done with BT.
If Tim Ashe wanted to exhibit real integrity, he would run as a Progressive and leave the Democrats to nominate their own candidate. I hope he will.
Party pooper [Fair Game, October 26]? Tim Ashe? I think we can all respect the idea that choosing a mayor isn’t just about the party; it’s about selecting a candidate who can best lead this city forward, regardless of political affiliation. It’s understandable that Tim Ashe might not guarantee an endorsement. To me, that just says he’s being thoughtful and honest about how he’s answering questions, and that he has integrity and the backbone to take on this position. That’s exactly what we would like to see in our next mayor. Tim Ashe has the experience to give Burlington a kick start into the next term.
Ashe Is a Unifier
[Re Feedback, November 2; Fair Game, October 26 & November 2]: For 30 years, many liberal Democrats have suggested that Progressives should join forces with them, instead of opposing one another at the ballot box. Now that Tim Ashe is doing just that, a small but vocal group of Democrats, mostly affiliated with Miro Weinberger’s campaign, are criticizing Tim for giving them what they’ve been asking for! Suggesting that Tim is a “Progressive in Democrats’ clothing,” despite the fact that Tim has twice been elected to the state senate as a Democrat/Progressive, is nonsensical. It is ironic that while Tim is trying to run a unity campaign, some are criticizing him for his efforts to set a new tone in Burlington politics. Isn’t it time we got past this kind of self-defeating silliness? Let’s support Tim Ashe in the Democratic caucus next week, and elect Tim as mayor in March to get Burlington moving forward again.
Call to Progs
The elections are shaping up once again to defy our innocent belief in the diversity of opportunity in our fair city [Fair Game, October 19]. The Democratic primary presents a group of white men, and can we doubt that the Republicans will do the same? They may be good candidates, but how is it possible that there is not one candidate of color, not one woman, not one member of the queer, transgendered, transsexual community, not one person who could bring an authentically new, fresh vision to the governance of this city?
If you believe that Burlington is a city of opportunity for artists and immigrants and political refugees and people of color and radical lesbians and multilingual children and home-sharers and meals-on-wheelers and musicians and ice cream makers and microbrewers and tai-chiers and hot skiers and who even knows what else anymore, go to Burlington City Hall, check out the photos of past mayors, all of them, and ask yourself, “Is this all there is?”
It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a third party. It has served us well, but the good old boys who have run it for 30 years have done their best and their time has run out. But the party remains; it just needs some rock and roll. And lots of fresh faces. And some truly progressive leadership. The Rainbow Coalition went out with the election of Barack Obama, but its legacy in Burlington is enormous: Seize it! There will be a progressive caucus. Flood it, demand to be represented, reach for the mayor’s office. One of you can get it; we will all benefit.
Louis Mannie Lionni
Editor’s note: In fact, State Rep. Jason Lorber, a Democrat running for mayor of Burlington, is a married gay man.
In Bernie’s Footsteps
It is easy to attack a candidate who is forging a new road by running a fusion campaign with the title Democrat-Progressive [Feedback, “Miro’s the Man,” November 2]. Following in the tradition of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was once the mayor of our great city, Tim Ashe is his own person. Bernie has remained his own person throughout his political career, standing strong for the people of Vermont above any party label. Similarly, I believe Tim Ashe embodies the best of both Democratic and Progressive values.
We need an experienced leader who will unite the people of Burlington and restore responsibility, accountability and transparency to city hall. Tim has been in Burlington for 16 years working on behalf of all residents of our city. His record is impressive: He worked as an aide to Bernie Sanders, served on the Burlington City Council for five years, organized low-income residents of mobile-home parks and now works with Cathedral Square developing affordable housing for seniors. Tim is serving his second term as a state senator in the Vermont legislature. He is the only candidate with the broad municipal, state and federal government experience to serve the city effectively. I also believe that Tim is the only Democratic candidate with the depth of knowledge, skills and experience to beat Kurt Wright in March.
Tim Ashe will build on the successes of our vibrant and unique community. I hope you will join me in supporting him at the Democratic caucus on Sunday, November 13.
Goulette is a constituent advocate for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Tech Issue Clicked
The whole tech issue was terrific [October 26]. As an old woman, I don’t know a lot about new technologies. I learned so many fascinating things in this issue. Keep up the education, please. Keep informing me about the world of the 21st century! Thanks a lot.
I found Andy Bromage’s story [“iPads for All: Public Schools in Northwestern Vermont Make Education Interactive,” October 26] to be at once infuriating and profoundly dispiriting for its unquestioned assumption that our children’s future should be defined by digital technology.
“Not really rigorous learning, but if you’ve got downtime, there’s worse things you could be doing,” says Bellows Free Academy Fairfax middle school principal Tom Walsh of a game that one of his eighth-grade students likes because he gets to “viciously attack cats and dogs with throwing stars and swords.”
Meanwhile, technology coordinator Tom Mays notes that some of the students’ parents have not embraced the digital era. “They spend most of their time cutting down trees in the middle of the woods,” he says, as if that were some sort of moral failing.
Do none of our education leaders wonder if the pursuit of technology in the classroom has a downside? Is none of them concerned by the widening chasm between our children and the natural world that provides the basis for their very survival? Can it truly be that none of them makes the connection between the fact that the average American child now spends 53 hours per week on a digital device and our culture’s increasing apathy toward nature?
When superintendent Ned Kirsch says of his kids, “Their whole world is a digital world,” and that he wants ensure that all schools follow suit, my heart breaks for Vermont’s children. I dearly hope that in this rush to embrace the latest techno-gadgetry, someone is taking these young people deep into a forest, to sit against the rough bark of a sugar maple and just be. But somehow, I doubt it.
As an internet business owner and a parent of young children, I am compelled to write in response to “iPads for All: Public Schools in Northwestern Vermont Make Education Interactive,” [October 26] about an iPad initiative in a Vermont school. It’s remarkable that [three days earlier] New York Times published a contrasting article about a Waldorf school in Silicon Valley that believes that computers and elementary school “don’t mix.” The school featured in the Times is not a fringe school but a school where executives from tech giants such as eBay, Google, Apple and Yahoo send their kids. For me, the heart of the Times article lives in this quote by Paul Thomas: “Teaching is a human experience.” Yes, we live in the digital world, but let’s take a moment to ask ourselves: “What do we want for our children? What do we want them to value?”
The Seven Days article references how schoolchildren are being spared the “messy” human element — and are instead choosing digital interactions that can be edited and updated instantly. This is a powerfully attractive way of living, and it is no surprise that children are enthusiastic about it. But maintaining relationships takes real work and skills that are learned in person, face to face — not from a screen. There is another alternative to handheld devices: hands. Get the children building, engaging the natural world and routinely participating in useful work. Allow children to move their bodies throughout the day, solve complicated problems with pencils and paper — and, most importantly, build real relationships with real people.
David Sewell McCann
Last week’s story “Health Care Providers Take a Shot at Increasing Childhood Immunizations” incorrectly reported that British physician Andrew Wakefield received “a prison sentence” for misrepresenting the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of his 1998 study purportedly showing a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. Though Britain’s General Medical Council proved dozens of charges against Wakefield, including dishonesty and abuse of developmentally challenged children, Wakefield never did any prison time. Seven Days regrets the error.