Letters to the Editor
Is Seven Days really “Vermont’s Independent Voice”? I was disappointed to read Kevin Kelley’s article on the city council races in Burlington [“Progressive Council Candidates Fight to Defend Their Turf,” February 29]. I expected to read an article providing more information on the candidates. What I found instead was a biased article giving a voice to only the candidates with major party affiliations and marginalizing the independent candidates, Franco Salese and Ron Ruloff.
At a time when so many people are disappointed with the performance of the major parties, one might think this journalist would have offered a window into the ideologies of the alternative independent candidates. Not only did Mr. Kelley fail in that regard, he additionally referred to these two individuals as “long shots.” Does Mr. Kelley have any statistical data to back up this assertion?
I watched the Ward 3 debates on public access, and from them I learned that candidate Salese is more than just an “Alpine ski coach” “offering a little bit for everyone.” Mr. Salese stated a long list of professional credentials, as well as concrete solutions to many of the transparency concerns voiced by his constituents.
Through these debates I also learned that Ron Ruloff is not just a man who lives in his car. He offered an informed perspective on the city’s financial situation. Did Kelley not tune in? Did he not interview these candidates before sending this article to press? I must assume that Kelley either failed in his journalistic responsibilities or that he views non-Progressive and non-Democrat ideologies as unworthy of print. Additionally, referring to candidate Ruloff as just a guy who lives in his car truly perpetuates a problem in this country: that the homeless are voiceless and irrelevant. Overall, irresponsible journalism permeates this article.
“Blow Hard” reporter Kathryn Flagg [March 14] plays the favorite card of wind-developer advocates: Statewide poll responses prove Vermonters “strongly” support “wind development.” Simultaneously, she casts those who oppose utility-scale ridgeline development as “opponents of wind power.” Enough irresponsible journalism.
Vermonters who oppose utility-scale ridgeline wind projects are not “opponents of wind power”; we are opponents of corporate/utility-scale ridgeline wind projects.
The “statewide” poll Flagg refers to and relies on is unidentified. It is not corroborated. A little research reveals that Ms. Flagg may be referring to the ORC Macro poll from January 2006, in which a mere 400 (out of 650,000+) Vermonters were asked the following: “If you were to see wind (energy) turbines along a Vermont mountain ridge, would you consider that sight “Beautiful/Acceptable, Unacceptable/Ugly, Other, Don’t know.” That’s the poll’s actual language. Such language cannot/does not produce responses to the issues at hand: utility/corporate-scale wind development vs. wind development scaled appropriately to Vermont’s rural landscape.
Bill McKibben is a heroic environmentalist/activist, surely, but he is not infallible. After identifying climate change — correctly, I agree — as the “most important civilizational challenge in human history,” McKibben’s unparalleled vision has failed him. His natural allies are those who work to oppose the most dangerous obstacle to containing climate change: corporatization of our natural resources, our environmental heritage, our responsibilities as stewards and preservers of that heritage here in Vermont. There is no corporation — most assuredly not GMP — committed to McKibben’s quest. Come home, Bill.
Who Wants Wind to Fail?
“Blow Hard” [March 14] by Kathryn Flagg was well rounded and thoughtful, a welcome change from some of the sensationalism that has dominated the media discussion on wind energy in Vermont. Well done. It would also be interesting to take a deep look into the funding of these anti-wind organizations. Many of these groups in other areas have been shown to be supported heavily by coal, oil and natural gas companies with an interest in making sure that wind power is not successful. And since these things can be funded indirectly, I wonder what interests their major contributors have in seeing wind fail.
I read the Bentek study [“Blow Hard,” March 14]. It says the wind industry made projections about carbon reduction, but Bentek’s analysis in some states showed considerably less. From this they conclude that the wind industry lies. This is how to lie with statistics.
The wind industry made projections based on national averages. Some states have more coal; others have more natural gas and nuclear. If the states Bentek analyzed have more natural gas, the carbon reduction from wind will be lower than the predicted national average. In their analysis of high-coal states, they found that carbon reduction was higher than predicted. That latter point didn’t make a good talking point for a pro-fossil-fuel company.
Bentek is a fossil-fuel-research firm. It is not at all surprising they would present facts that polish their clients’ apple.
Balanced and Informative
Despite its title, “Blow Hard” [March 14] was the most balanced and informative article on the wind-power debate that I’ve seen in any Vermont newspaper. Thanks for the valiant effort at untangling this issue.
Dan Bolles’ writing is as kick ass as the Stone Bullet album he was reviewing [March 14]. The references gave me a flashback to a better time and better bands. Can’t wait to see them rocking St. Patty’s Day at Knotty Shamrock. Hope you are there, Dan!
Editor’s note: This letter came in too late for last week’s paper. Bolles didn’t make it to the Knotty Shamrock because he spent all last week at South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.