Thanks to Megan James for her great article on how the Moran Building inspires [“Beautiful Ruin,”  September 11]. One point in response: I was quoted as saying that “to take [the building] down is arguably more expensive” than saving it. To clarify, it is my understanding that Burlington taxpayers would foot the bill for removing Moran and installing lawn in its place. Whereas redevelopment of the building may utilize an array of public funding from sources other than city coffers.
Can’t Bear It
As someone who formerly worked to protect critically endangered black bears in Asia and witnessed the torture and killing of these bears on “farms” there, I was naturally saddened to see the photo of the dead bear and horrified by Alice Levitt’s cavalier mention of hypothetically farming black bears for their meat [“Ursine Cuisine,”  September 4]. Because it is illegal to kill endangered Asiatic black bears, “farmers” in Asia either raise bears in captivity or illegally capture them in the wild, subsequently confining them in “crush cages” (a small cage with a crush bar in place so that the bear can never move) for decades, milking them for their highly prized bile. Ms. Levitt would do well to visit animalsasia.org and see some of the more than 10,000 bears on “farms” who are slowly tortured (confined in captivity, in cages stacked on top of each other, teeth removed, claws and often paws removed, holes drilled into them to remove their bile) and then killed for their parts and meat. Makes the idea of farming black bear for a tasty burger, even if mentioned in jest, far less palatable.
Question for Lisman
About your hope for Vermont, Mr. Lisman [Fair Game , August 28]: Please tell us retired?people living on fixed incomes how you plan to keep us in our homes. Many people who have your financial means and made their money here have chosen to take that money and move to income-tax-free states, leaving us middle-income people here to foot the bills. We now struggle to make our property tax payments. You came back, and I laud you for that, but what is your answer to our very serious concern? I live on a very small lake in the Northeast Kingdom — for now. If you can help?us stay, you will get our pledged support. No B.S. — just facts.
Michael C. Vinton?
Syria’ously, Seven Days?
While I loved Tim Newcomb’s “retiring Vermont Yankee” cartoon and have framed Entergy Nuclear’s full-page mea culpa advertorial (the one on September 4 was one for the ages — thanks), the oft-astute Paul Heintz’s Fair Game column on Syria  seemed a slapdash shill-fest-ian stinker. Why does Heintz accept the U.S. government’s official story that the Syrian government gassed its own citizens when evidence suggests it may have been Syrian rebels? Why does Heintz spill valuable ink painting our three Vermont congressmen into an impossible “choose your poison” = false choice corner — bomb Syria or watch Syria kill more civilians — while two thirds of them are on summer vacation?
Some suggestions for Paul: Contextualize the Syrian situation for us, your readers — Iran, Israel, Russia, etc. Ask hard questions of the official D.C.-based story. Consider the U.S. government’s history of collusion with corporate mainstream media “news” flacks to deploy propagandistic pro-war false flaggery. To wit: the Mexican-American War’s “spot” resolutions; “Remember the Maine; to Hell with Spain”; the Zimmerman telegram and the Creel Commission (WWI); Japan’s alleged Pearl Harbor “surprise attack” (WWII); Vietnam’s Tonkin Gulf Resolution; Iraq’s never discovered WMD and alleged involvement in 9/11. It might be worth mentioning the U.S.’ mixed Middle East record: USAID money countered with state-sponsored violence; record arms sales to despots, CIA secret torture prisons, toxic DU desert piles; Obama’s record number of drone strikes.
Waging war is bloody business for the U.S. and demands courageous independent journalists willing to ask hard questions, not regurgitate the party line. As Vermont’s biggest alt-weekly, Seven Days can and must do better.
Rick Kisonak has certainly distinguished himself recently. He awarded five stars to what was unquestionably the worst film of the decade (for anyone with an IQ over 77, at least), This Is the End [Movie Review , June 19]. Then he gave one star to Blue Jasmine, a likely Best Picture nominee and guaranteed Best Actress Oscar winner for Cate Blanchett [Movie Review , August 28]. Maybe try him on restaurants?
Paul Heintz, on the other hand, deserves all the praise it’s possible to give for trying to shine light into the dark little world of pols and palm-greasers [Fair Game , September 11]. That took guts. Thank you, Paul.
School Calendar History Lesson
[Re “School’s Out for … Six Weeks? Champlain Valley Parents Ponder Calendar 2.0,”  September 11]: In 1971 CVU decided to go to year-round school the following year in an effort to address overcrowding with a plan called 45-15. The student body was to be divided into four equal-size groups, with staggered start dates, so that at any one time three of the four groups would be in attendance. Each group would attend classes for 45 days, then have 15 off. Officials “announced” this plan in an assembly and sent us all home with a quarter-size piece of paper to give to our parents to let them know of the change. Not the most astute way to let the community know of a major change, to say the least!?
When I came home and told my mother, she basically said, “Over my dead body.” She then led a yearlong citizen initiative to stop this plan and, essentially, won. A modified attempt was made for one year, then dropped. While I definitely agreed with my mom (our family went away to a cherished family property the day school got out and came home on Labor Day), I often wondered what would have happened had the school administrators tried using a thoughtful process featuring respectful neighborhood discussions and information sharing, combined with a problem-solving component. In other words, true participatory democracy! It might have resulted in a solution acceptable to a large majority of the population that addressed underlying problems. Just a thought given the current effort to make a major societal change.