Letters to the Editor
Sollberger Is a Keeper
[Seven Days video journalist] Eva Sollberger is a classic! She is an elegant young lady! Don’t let her get away!
All About Eva
I receive Seven Days online and ever since Eva Sollberger’s Stuck in Vermont video series started, I’ve been a fan. Now that she’s finally been interviewed for her work, it brings me joy to see her get some well-deserved publicity.
When Stuck started appearing on WCAX-TV “The :30” with anchor Kristin Carlson, I was happy, hoping for Eva’s spot to appear often. I’m guessing her talent will soon go beyond Vermont but selfishly hope we keep her here for a while.
She’s a delightful, one-of-a-kind personality. I won’t be at all surprised if we see some documentary work from her on a larger scale.
Nod to Knodell
Jane Knodell is a proven and strong civic leader [“ONE to Watch: Burlington Council Race Pits Old Prog Against New Dem,” February 13]. She worked hard to make City Market our downtown grocery store and helped spearhead the sale of city-owned land to the Intervale Center, promoting a more local food supply. As a member of the School Equity Task Force, Jane was instrumental in the transformation of H.O. Wheeler School into the dynamic Integrated Arts Academy. For more than 20 years, Jane has stood up for decent, safe, affordable housing, for a strong economy and for well-paying jobs.
Jane has the experience and knowledge that we need in city government. Come April, at least half of all city councilors will have been on the council for two years or fewer. The mayor, city attorney and chief administrative officer all have one year of experience. With her previous experience as a city councilor, under three different mayors, Jane brings the perspective of a seasoned, tested public leader at a time when experience is at a premium.
In recent years, many people have moved to Burlington because of its reputation as a “livable city.” Let’s not forget that Burlington became such a desirable and livable city over the last 30 years through the hard work, progressive vision and experience of people just like Jane Knodell. I urge Ward 2 residents to vote for her on Tuesday, March 5.
In his article about my daughter Emily Lee’s run for city council, Kevin Kelley describes me as “subsisting for years on food stamps and other government assistance programs” [“ONE to Watch: Burlington Council Race Pits Old Prog Against New Dem,” February 13]. A more accurate description would be, “with her husband, she worked long hours for 20 years, lifting 50-pound crates and driving thousands of miles to keep a local food business on its feet.”
Let me add that I am extremely grateful that I live in Vermont, where there is a social safety net. We were able to get help when times were tough, which they often were. I am particularly grateful that I was able to get health coverage through Vermont Health Access Plan when I twice got cancer while all this was going on. In another state, I might not have been so lucky.
All three of my children had to work hard to help out when they were kids. All three of them worked their way through college — no mean feat these days. And all three of them are very successful adults, and I am proud of them.
Because of her background, Emily has more experience and understanding than most people her age. She is a wonderful young woman and will make a fine public servant.
Rebecca Rust Lee, aka Emily’s mom
Hail to Hackie
I was perusing Seven Days and came across “Moon Over Killington” [Hackie, February 20]. I just wanted to say I enjoyed it a lot. It was nice to see the writer’s experiences as a cabbie intertwine with reflections on the passengers and their life experiences. His writing was poetic and romantic, I thought. Also refreshing. Though I came across it randomly, I hope to see more.
Troubled by Turnover
I am an early-childhood educator, and I cringed when I read Ken Picard’s article [“Daycare Nightmares: What Parents Don’t Know about Vermont Childcare Could Hurt Their Kids,” January 30]. The early education system is so vital to our society. If it weren’t for daycare and preschool, the majority of parents in today’s society would not be able to go to work and provide for their families. I think the major focus should be finding the reasons why these types of behaviors and violations are happening.
Unfortunately, many facilities have a high turnover rate and are forced to hire people who hold the very minimum qualifications in order to meet the required ratios in a hurry. To me this is certainly outrageous, but it happens. In addition, there is the ever-present plague of low wages. Perhaps if more were done to decrease the high turnover in this field, we would have fewer so-called daycare nightmares. The bottom line is that some people are just simply unfit and unqualified to be early care providers.
As an educator of young children, I have multiple roles. Not only am I a teacher, I am also a positive role model, a nurturing presence for children to depend on for their daily needs, and an advocate for their general well-being for many hours a week. I would love to see a follow-up article called “Daycare Dreams” that discusses the many amazing early education facilities in our state.
Gibeault is a teacher at the Greater Burlington Y.
Hit and Miss
Was Officer Mike Cram or the article’s author confused [“License to Snoop? Vermont Legislature Considers Limiting Scanner Surveillance,” February 13]. The “hit” referred to in the first couple of paragraphs of this article indicated that the owner of the vehicle, not necessarily the driver, had a suspended license. Conversely, it was the vehicle that was eventually found to be without insurance coverage, not the driver. Is the lack of an owner’s license sufficient cause to stop a vehicle? One might reason that if the owner did not have a license, he might have lent his car to a friend to drive. The article goes on to discuss tracking individuals by license plate, but what they are really tracking is the car — that’s an important distinction.
My background is working in advertising, Madison Avenue, NYC, since the ’70s and at Fordham University for 11 years as an adjunct professor (Principles of Advertising), now retired. I have only written once before to a company when I saw an ad for cigarettes using St. Francis of Assisi and his animals that was just not funny and wrong in a shameful way. Now it’s the Red Square ad using Pope Benedict [February 13]. Just because our Constitution gives us the “right” to say whatever we want doesn’t really mean publications should publish “whatever.” To be funny, one should be witty and say something that is at the very least true; Otherwise it’s just junk. Pope Benedict didn’t “quit”; he resigned. The rest of the ad’s headline about “the boss never showed up” is specious, too. Guess what? It’s also disrespectful to people who think God does show up every day. The ad isn’t even funny. P.S. I am not a religious fanatic, but I am a fact-checker kind of person who is sensitive to my fellow humans, Catholics, Jews, Hindus, atheists and agnostics.
The Thing About Plays
Reviews should be about the quality of the play and the acting [“A New Play Depicts the Real-Life Drama of Wind Turbines in Vermont,” February 13]. Many great works of art, maybe even most, have a slight leaning one way or the other. In fact, this is what makes the play a form of artistic expression and a vehicle for starting a dialogue. This article reads more like an editorial than an artistic review.
Experts on Addiction
[Re “Teen Brains on Booze,” January 16]: Barbara Cimaglio, deputy commissioner for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs at the Vermont Department of Health, wants us to believe “that for young people who start to drink regularly before the age of 15, the risks of lifelong problems with alcoholism and other drug dependence are greatly elevated.” What she doesn’t tell us is why these adolescents turn to drinking and drugs at an early age. Let’s ask the bigger question that experts, like Harvard neuroscientist Marisa Silveri, forget to ask or remember to ignore: “Why do kids want to self-medicate in the first place?”
The experts incorrectly assume recreational use when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Almost never is self-medication listed as a cause, despite the evidence about high rates of teen suicide and mental problems or co-occurring conditions such as abuse, poverty and neglect. We might also ask why “experts” have no complaints about Ritalin, and whether it causes lasting effects on the brain. There are between six and eight million children on Ritalin in the U.S.
Addiction is about short-term gratification. Studies such as the famous Marshmallow Experiment, conducted in 1972 by psychologist Walter Mischel of Stanford University, indicates that only a small number of children possesses the traits of deferred gratification by age 5, and I’ll note that we do very little to develop this trait in children, which may be a more effective way to address addiction.
What’s Good About Goddard
Barbara Vacarr says that people come to Goddard to “uncover their stories,” and yet that is precisely what was lacking in Kathryn Flagg’s portrait of modern-day Goddard College [“Presidential Appeal: How Barbara Vacarr plans to save Goddard College,” February 13]. I am in my final semester at Goddard’s master’s in education program and feel strongly that my education is about both “personal transformation” and “career development” and think that many of my classmates would say the same. They are some of the most inspiring people I know, and the thing they all have in common is a commitment to creating change in their communities.
Here are some of their stories: One is using the arts to increase sustainability and sense of place on a struggling island community in Maine; another is introducing mindfulness and intentionality to her preschoolers in South Burlington; another is combining her passion for Shakespeare and her school counseling degree to lead programs that help students understand authenticity and build confidence; and another is an international workshop facilitator for youth from cultures in conflict.
These are just four of hundreds of Goddard students who are making a positive impact on the world through their work, and the institution can be credited for nurturing the strength, vision and personal connection that one needs to get the work done. I appreciate President Vacarr’s assertion that the college is more invested in “how economies can support human communities, rather than how communities can support economies,” and can only hope that Goddard soon becomes recognized for this important work.
Nevada City, Calif.
The title of the article is true [“Daycare Nightmares,” January 30]; I believe there is no role for the state in having to provide enough “adequate” childcare as defined or described in this article. The licenser’s documentation, the Child Care Resource staff input and most importantly the parents who removed their children from these horrible providers’ care should take priority. The state should be assuring that a license or registration held by a provider reflects that babies and preschoolers and their families have a healthy, safe and positive experience while entrusted their care. Licensers need support to close programs that do not do this, and families and programs such as Child Care Resource and the Family Center of Washington County need to work with parents on sharing this kind of information. Then families can take direct action with their legislators to point out the need for improved care. Public dollars should not foster harm to children. Move to close them and require they prove why they should not be closed.
Keith is an early-childhood and family-support consultant.
Change CCTA’s Policy
I read the recent installment of WTF titled “Why don’t CCTA buses give change?” [February 13] and had to chuckle. Bus authorities aren’t feeling pressure to modify how they allocate on-board tickets not only because they make extra money off unsuspecting customers, but also because seasoned riders arrive with perfect change — likely as a result of having once fallen prey to the company’s revenue-enhancement scheme.
The company essentially externalizes a cost — one that could be effectively argued is a part of doing business — to its customer base. Why hassle with making change when you can essentially browbeat your customers into doing it for you? The argument offered of “needing to stick to a schedule” falls apart each and every time someone lacking perfect change climbs aboard and then eats up valuable minutes negotiating with the driver and even nearby riders — something I’ve often witnessed.
Moreover, there are plenty of places outside of the U.S.A. where it remains a common practice for bus drivers to make change for their customers even while maintaining safety and sticking to a stringent schedule. Anyone who’s ever traveled “rough” can attest to this.
So rather than remove an obvious barrier that dissuades repeat customers and is just plain annoying, CCTA instead pleads innocence and runs up the danger flag — that it’s not safe for drivers to handle coinage. I suspect a crafty drivers’ union played a hand in the latter and if so, good on ’em. But I still call BS all around.
Kai Mikkel Forlie
Goddard must again welcome resident students if it is to become a whole college again [“Presidential Appeal: How Barbara Vacarr plans to save Goddard College,” February 13]. If President Vacarr can achieve that, while maintaining the profitable low-residency program and convincing the unionized faculty to serve both, she will undoubtedly be remembered as Goddard’s best president in history — perhaps second only to Tim Pitkin.