Layer Up, Shumlin
Dear Gov. Shumlin: Real Vermonters do wear “jammies” [Last 7: “Bear Scare,” March 18]. In fact, we put on as many layers as we can. With the price of heating oil so high, how else are we going to stay warm? But it sounds like your place is nice and toasty.
Jane A. Peters
The Problem with B&J
Dear Ben & Jerry’s: Thank you for reminding us of our democratic ideals [full-page ad, March 28]. Now, while you are at it, will you explain why, when you support recycling paper, the reduction of carbon emissions to slow global warming and paper containers from sustainable forestry practices, you buy milk and cream only from conventional dairy farmers? Conventional dairy is predicated on making a surplus of milk to keep the price down, which it accomplishes by externalizing the costs of soil fertility and weed control into the lake. Because conventional milk is made in surplus, Vermont’s family dairy farmers are earning, with your “support,” less than their cost of production (why else are they going out of business?).
Here in Vermont, the “green state,” conventional dairy is the main source of pollutants entering Lake Champlain. B&J, the largest buyer of Vermont conventional milk, is supporting overproduction, low milk prices, driving farm attrition and lake pollution. Isn’t it time to bring your mission closer to home by buying milk and cream only from sustainable, nonpolluting, Vermont-certified organic dairy farms?
James H. Maroney Jr.
“Cheap” Has a Cost
Nice article [“Cheap Seats,”  April 18], with one glaring omission: Allowing low-cost operators is really bad public policy. Just because others in the transportation industry have been getting away with this for years doesn’t make it right.
Unfortunately, this article too easily glazes over the deleterious effects that low-cost operations like this have on safety, workers, the public and the environment. Where is mention of the National Transportation Safety Board’s report that curbside operations like that utilized by megabus are seven times less safe than terminal operations? Where are interviews with current and former megabus workers? Where is mention that in response to poor wages and benefits, megabus workers have overwhelmingly voted to unionize?
Deregulation of the airline industry in 1978 precipitated the birth of the low-cost carrier, and we’ve all seen what that has gotten us. Everyone and everything but management and shareholders lose under the low-cost scenario. It’s not worth it. Isn’t it obvious that there is something morally wrong with being able to bus between Burlington and New York for $36?
I wish the author had chosen to delve under the surface. After all, there is so much more to this story than the price of a cheap ticket.
Kai Mikkel Forlie
Go With the Flow
[Re “Dude North,”  April 25]: I am a 52-year-old man who grew up paddling and singing in the Temagami area of Canada. My children joined me when they were 5 and 8 years old, respectively. Now my eldest son is 21 and teaches wilderness canoeing as the boys mentioned in the article do. Every year I paddle and sing. It is never too late to have a happy childhood.
East Brunswick, N.J.
Get Out, Joe
Joe Uptegrove wants Vermont police to racially profile citizens because, in his imagination, South Central L.A. residents drag lighter-skinned people from their cars and brutally murder them [Feedback , April 25]. And that’s getting real? That’s cabin fever. Joe should turn off the TV and meet new kinds of people. He might discover that having a free society is not as bad as he thinks.
When I read Andy Bromage’s Fair Game: [“Dysfunction Junction,”  April 25], I was surprised to see that he was echoing many of my own thoughts about what occurred several weeks ago at the Statehouse. In writing the Vermont state constitution, its authors foresaw the need to create strategic safety valves in the rules process that allow minority interests a chance against those with more power. Sen. [Hinda] Miller’s amendment proposal is an example of one of these minority protections, and her actions were within the bounds of the legislative process.
Andy was correct to point that out, and I was really glad that he discussed at length Sen. [Philip] Baruth’s comments about the legislative process. His comments were some of the most illuminating on this issue and brought attention on the floor to the fact that Sen. Miller was not actually breaking any legislative proceedings. Frustrated that the Death With Dignity bill did not make it to the Senate floor in yet another legislative session, Sen. Miller employed creative legislative tactics in order to serve her constituents who had been waiting years for this debate to take place regardless. No rules were broken, and the discussion on the floor took place within the rules — just not in the typical fashion that Vermont senators are comfortable with. Sen. Miller’s only act of disobedience was to break Senate norms.
As a longtime reader, I found your dip into absurdist humor absolutely refreshing. Alice Levitt’s “Getting Your Goat”  [April 18] reaches heights that are almost Dadaesque in their insanity. “Mostly vegetarian”: One is either a vegetarian or not; it’s an either/or proposition. “Not just pets ... produce excellent meat”: I was not aware that Americans are now eating their pets, but apparently this is a trend. The right-wing media are full of the news that the president ate dog as a child, in another country. I knew I was fattening up my dog, Bernie, for a reason.
Last week’s story, “Spaces to Roam,”  about the recent workplace modernization project at National Life Group in Montpelier, misreported the percentage of affected employees. The effort — a pilot project in National Life’s IT department — has not been implemented companywide, as was erroneously reported last week.
A list of local theater companies in the cover story, “Setting the Stage,”  left at least one out: Girls Nite Out Productions. Launched in 2010 with Steel Magnolias, the group produces an annual show. Next up is The Odd Couple/Female Version, October 4-7 at Burlington’s Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center.