Not Good for the ’Hood
The properties along Airport Road are not being maintained, and it is affecting the entire neighborhood [Stuck in Vermont, “A Neighborhood’s Future Is Up in the Air,”  May 23]. Our home prices are beginning to drop due to the area around us. I would guess the airport was told in advance that you wanted to video, because most properties don’t look like the video. I have worked hard to maintain and develop a nice home for my retirement and, in a swoop, it can be gone. I do not want to move from South Burlington, but the prices of homes are no longer within my reach. I have lived in these neighborhoods since 1968.
[Re Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, “What’s Up With the Bridge to Nowhere Over the Burlington Beltline?”  May 23]: The harmful effects that roads can have on wildlife populations have been detailed in the scientific literature. Providing crossing structures that allow animals safe passage can help mitigate this harm. Parks are used not only by people; why not set up this bridge as a wildlife crossing?
Legislature Needs Levine
My question to Judith Levine [Poli Psy, “Immune to Reason,”  May 23]: Why, oh why, did you stay out of the vaccination debate as it unfolded at the Statehouse? Yours was the clearest, most cogent and most compelling piece I have read. While conspiracy theories seem to abound in Vermont — whether it’s fear of mind control through fluoridation or government eavesdropping through smart meters — the anti-vaccine furor is, in my view, the most misguided and dangerous of them all. Judith, if there’s an opportunity for a legislative redo on the philosophical exemption, weigh in, please!
Although I take issue with almost every statement in Ms. Levine’s astonishing column on vaccines, I’ll respond to the two issues that rankle most [Poli Psy, “Immune to Reason,” May 23]:
(1) Vaccine companies make little profit and are saddled with huge liability. Actually, the reverse is true: Vaccines are enormously profitable, with double-digit annual growth. In 2009, Sanofi-Aventis, a leading vaccine manufacturer, predicted $21.5 billion in vaccine sales by this year, while mandated immunization programs guarantee a market. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 “eliminates manufacturer liability for a vaccine’s unavoidable, adverse side effects,” as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court.
(2) Vaccines are safe. In fact, numerous toxic ingredients and potential risks are listed even on package inserts, and the U.S. government has paid out $2.3 billion for vaccine injuries. Dismissing vaccine injuries as “coincidence” is contemptuous of suffering families and does nothing to persuade them of the value of vaccination. If a child’s anaphylactic shock after eating peanuts were shrugged off, then universal requirements were enacted to eat peanuts on a regular schedule, with policies set by agencies with tangled financial ties to peanut companies, would anyone be surprised at parents’ distrust, resistance and outrage?
Perhaps parents who hold a conscientious objection to injectable pharmaceutical products will be willing to consider vaccinating their children for “the greater good,” as soon as the vaccine industry sacrifices all profit in the name of public health. Does that sound reasonable?
Though not always in agreement with Judith Levine’s opinions, I applaud her most recent column [Poli Psy, “Immune to Reason,” May 23]. As an educator and a father, I recognize that parents must have the right to advocate for their children. There are times, however, when the public good must be considered more judiciously than the rights of individuals to make non-science-based decisions that affect the health of everyone’s children and the communities in which they live. I couldn’t have said it better, more plainly or in a manner that logically explores the arguments from both sides of the debate. Good job, Judith!
Although the F-16 fighter jets are far from my backyard, I feel for the folks whose backyards they are in [“F-35 Fighter Jets in South Burlington? Air Force Idea Bombs and Soars,”  May 16]. I spend time at the dog park on Kirby Road, right next to the airport. The first time I heard the F-16s take off, it sounded like the sky was being torn apart. That, and my eardrums. I worried for the health of my dog’s ears and my own. I can’t imagine anything louder, but the proposed F-35s are. To me this is an environmental health concern that warrants a thorough examination of health concerns now and over time. Are there other job-preservation/creation efforts that are less harmful to others? At the very least, I would propose supporters of the F-35s spend time at the dog park when a couple of consecutive takeoffs occur and ask yourself how you would feel if it were your backyard. We’re talking thousands of families and a school full of children close by. To me the answer is loud and clear.
How Do You Define Harassment?
I was disappointed with your coverage of Burlington’s proposed patient safety zone ordinance [Fair Game , May 23]. It’s actually not at all “amazing” that no patients came forward to publicly testify about being harassed on their way to receive health services at Planned Parenthood. I was a patient at PPNNE for many years; if I were picketed and harassed while getting my annual pap smear, I certainly might think twice about getting up in front of the city council and a room full of reporters to talk about it. Andy Bromage doesn’t seem to get that these are private, confidential health care services and that people have a right to receive health care without being harassed on their way through the front door.
I have worked for many years with survivors of sexual and domestic violence. I’ve witnessed firsthand the countless ways in which perpetrators of violence undermine women’s ability to control their own bodies and their access to health services. For many of these women, Planned Parenthood has been a tremendous resource, providing confidential, respectful, competent care. It breaks my heart to think of women being harassed on their way into the clinic that might provide them with sexually-trasmitted-infection screening, emergency contraception and other services to help regain control of their bodies and their lives.
The safety zone proposes a fair balance between respecting patients’ safety and confidentiality and the rights of protesters. I wish that Bromage’s reporting did more to acknowledge this delicate balance and those patients caught in the middle.