It is marvelous to see local boat builders reestablishing skills somewhat lost to the area [“Sail to Sale,”  April 24]. Am I alone in seeing the oddity of creating a way to ship local goods out of the area?
Well Done, Waterfront
I enjoyed your article on Waterfront Video [“Final Credits,”  May 1]. Although its demise was perhaps inevitable, that does not lessen the sadness at seeing this pioneering retailer disappear. Newer, internet-based movie-rental providers may be more efficient and cost-effective, but they do not provide the same opportunity to simply browse the shelves to see what was new that you may have missed, or what movies you may have never even been aware of if you hadn’t checked the jacket or seen the recommendation of the staff.
Retailers such as Netflix and Amazon are undoubtedly great if you already know what you want to see or read, but they do little to broaden one’s interest beyond the best sellers. ?For this, I mourn Waterfront Video’s passing and thank them for a job well done.?
Ice Cream Ironies
[Re “Ben & Jerry’s Distributor Freezes Out Small Vermont Retailers,”  April 24]: It is ironic that Ben & Jerry’s is now shutting out small local retailers, but not surprising. Little businesses turn into monsters, antithetical to their original ways. Remember when B&J fought for shelf space with the biggies, and their “What’s the Dough Boy Afraid Of?” ad campaign aimed at Pillsbury, Häagen Dazs’ owner? Just before B&J’s was sold a dozen or so years ago, I worked a contract night-maintenance job for a few weeks in B&J’s Springfield plant. What did they produce there? Häagen Dazs ice cream pops! They also made Peace Pops and bulk ice cream. Things are rarely what they seem these days.
[Re “On Burlington’s Lakeview Terrace, ‘In-Fill’ Housing Leads to Ill Feeling,”  April 24]: It seems that just about everything concerning the development of this oversize eyesore was below the boards and underhanded: the rental versus ownership issue, the size of the project, the supposed restoration of the original building, the parking, etc. But is any of this illegal? I would hope that somebody in that neighborhood would file suit against this debacle. If not, maybe I will — and I only have to drive by this ugly monstrosity. And Mayor Development’s belief that building $2400-per-month apartments to rent to overpaid yuppies is somehow great for the city? Ridiculous and insulting.
Peter Du Brul’s letter [Feedback, “Where’s the Science?”  April 3] in response to [“Who’s Trying to Kill the GMO Bill?”  February 27] ridicules the anti-GMO movement by claiming there is no scientific debate about this subject. That is true if you believe the Food and Drug Administration, which has embraced studies done by biotech companies vouching for the safety of their crops. However, there are independent studies, especially from Europe, which have found that GMO food in laboratory tests can produce allergenic reactions.
Du Brul’s other argument is that with exponential population growth, we need GMO technology to feed the world with crops that are more drought resistant and produce more on less land. That belief epitomizes the classic deception of the biotech companies, who say we need GMO crops to feed the world, increase yields and reduce pesticide use. In the long run, yields do not increase and pesticide use increases. And despite other promises, the vast majority of GMO crops are either resistant to the herbicide Roundup, or contain the BT pesticide in every cell of the plant.
Du Brul’s mindset embraces technology, seeing GMOs as the answer to world hunger. Small-scale sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty for all people is the answer to world hunger. Freeing less-developed countries from having to produce cash crops for export would give them back the most productive land to produce their own food. Fair distribution of food and wealth is more promising than corporate control of agriculture.
Lebanese Resto, Please
Thank you for this article [“Handyland,”  April 17]. I am of Lebanese descent. My parents immigrated to Canada and I was born in Montréal. The only business missing from the Handyland empire is a Lebanese restaurant in the Burlington area. Lebanese food is one of the best and healthiest cuisines. Handy family, we want a Lebanese restaurant! I have to commute to Montréal to get my dose of Lebanese food!
Thanks to Kevin J. Kelley for his article on the Burlington school budget [“Will Burlington Ever Say No to Its Burgeoning School Budget?”  April 3]. He’s touched the tip of a huge iceberg, and the part that’s underwater is the out-of-control budget, which will stay that way until there is a concerted effort to spend within our means. Since 2007, the school district has exceeded a defensible 5 percent annual increase by more than $17 million — roughly the amount in question regarding the bailout of Burlington Telecom. We are told that 85 percent of BSD’s annual spending is “mandated,” so only 15 percent is debatable at budget time. Rubbish!
“Mandated” includes employment contracts that are discretionary, facilities that are outdated and too numerous, as well as federal and state mandates that are unavoidable unless our elected reps can somehow mitigate the cost of being a “sanctuary city.” So we are left to massage 15 percent and discuss figurative “petty cash” when we should be addressing the 85 percent where real changes can make a significant difference.
Discussions with BSD administration about the budget and its management have been ongoing for at least four years without apparent action.
Most frightening is that neither city hall or the Burlington City Council is interested; they certainly accepted BSD’s “presentation” to city council in January without raising an eyebrow, yet ramifications to both are obvious.
If there’s a will, real changes can be effected to benefit faculty, students and taxpayers alike. If not, the BT $17 million will start to look like loose change.