Letters to the Editor
The Journalist and the Sex Offender
A very interesting read [Fair Game, “Offender Bender,” November 28]. For me, the best part was the delicious irony of Peter Welch’s former communications director — who also covers politics, among other things, for Seven Days — calling out the Times Argus about what is, for all intents and purposes, his own situation with Seven Days. After all, his being Welch’s former communications director and a reporter who also covers politics certainly does not seem like a situation that presents a huge conflict of interest.
Editor’s note: When Paul Heintz writes about Rep. Peter Welch, Seven Days includes a disclaimer noting his former role as the congressman’s communications director.
I enjoyed reading about Paul Heintz’s hunt with Gov. Shumlin [“Riding Shotgun,” November 21]. Unfortunately, the humorous nature of his article conceals some real safety problems with this adventure. Hunters have always been required to show proof of a prior hunting license or completion of a hunter safety course before obtaining a Vermont license. Mr. Heintz, a novice to both hunting and guns, who accidentally discharges his rifle only hours before hunting with Gov. Shumlin, had neither.
Instead, he purchased a “mentored hunting license,” with the governor serving as his mentor. This license requires that the mentored hunter is in the direct control and supervision of the fully licensed adult hunter and is within 15 feet of the fully licensed adult hunter. Mr. Heintz writes that the governor left “a space of 50 or 60 yards between us” and that “now and again, I’d lose sight of his orange vest.” It seems like the next trip these two should take should be to the game warden’s woodshed.
[Re Last 7 and Feedback, “The Price Isn’t Right,” November 28]: An interesting juxtaposition in last week’s Seven Days, with Benjamin Adler of the Skinny Pancake maintaining that he couldn’t sustain a business selling $20 sandwiches made with ingredients from “local farmers” to the captive, post-security airport crowd (hence the living-wage exemption), while Jed Davis and Kristina Bond wondered how to attract folks to dine at Guild, where prices for “local food” are higher. (What does a dishwasher earn in a South Burlington steak house?).
My experience with airport travel and the Vermont dining public leads me to believe that while hungry travelers will pay almost anything for mediocre food in an airport (e.g., the $18 clam roll at Logan), convincing the Texas Roadhouse clientele to go upscale in price will be very difficult.
While I personally prefer to support local business, especially local food sources, the majority of shoppers define value with a heavy emphasis on price — hence Walmart. My own term for this is “product iconization”; compare a shrink-wrapped Chinese knockoff with the genuine article. Though the labels are, in truth, the same, with much restaurant food, the quality differs. Truth and Quality — discussed in Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance — might have a useful bearing on the subject.
[Re “Why Middlebury College Put Five Students on Trial Over a Dalai Lama Prank,” November 7]: How disappointing and outrageous that such a nationally known institution of higher learning is so lacking in transparency and fair play — especially when dealing with thoughtful, well-intentioned and morally correct students. It really would give me pause if my alma mater acted so inappropriately and then asked for my financial support of “their” endowment.
Dead But Not Forgotten
The article “Graveyard Shift” [October 31] was a timely one. However, we shouldn’t just stroll through graveyards to appreciate the art and stone carving. We also need to remember and honor those who fought the good fight before us. On Saturday, October 20, I went to honor Gen. George Stannard on his birthday. He is buried in Burlington’s Lakeview Cemetery, which was not featured in the Seven Days article but is quite beautiful. Stannard commanded the nine-month Vermont volunteers at Gettysburg. He saw the opportunity to flank the Confederates during Pickett’s Charge and swung the brigade out like a door, devastating the rebels with enfilade fire and breaking their momentum. (He also supplied the tourniquet that saved the life of corps commander Winfield Scott Hancock).
I was alone in the cemetery, so there was no one to direct me to the general’s grave, but I figured they would have given him a good spot, and they did. I laid a bouquet of flowers at the grave (and poured a few ounces of Jim Beam on the ground, as the Romans would have) saluted the statue and thanked George for what he did. If Lee had broken through the Union center, he could have rolled on to Washington and forced Lincoln to sue for peace. But a coolheaded Vermonter smashed that dream. I left with the sounds of hip-hop music coming from nearby Burlington High School, where the girls’ soccer team was practicing speed drills. My solemn task was completed, and the young were going about the business of taking joy in living, oblivious to the hero who had been key to keeping America “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Editor’s note: We wrote about Lakeview Cemetery on July 11, 2007. The archived article is titled “Burlington’s Buried Treasure.”
Eagles Have Landed
[Re “Screaming Eagles,” November 21]: It took a lot of work, but we raised my brother Joe Manley (I know, right?) well. Eagles is passed down from generation to generation like the family heirloom. And based on the article, we have a new generation growing up along Lake Champlain.
Wind Story Blows
Even after rereading Ms. Flagg’s weak piece on the industrialization of the Lowell Mountain Range, I remain frustrated by her unwillingness or inability to broaden the conversation and bring more light to the issues [“My Side of the Mountain,” November 7].
The results of Flagg’s three whirlwind trips to the Northeast Kingdom (notably only two fewer than GMP’s Mary Powell has made in two years) are disappointing but not unexpected. Given the opportunity to examine a complex and divisive issue, she passes, choosing to dutifully record Powell’s company line and note Powell’s bewilderment at not being “sure why (this project) stirred up so much vehemence.” Her ride to the ridgeline ends in wide-eyed wonderment at the turbines’ magnitude: 460 feet to be exact; one and a half football fields.
Flagg’s stab at getting to the sources of the “vehemence” netted her face time with two of the original “Lowell Six.” Drs. Holland and Morse are, arguably, among the most informed critics of industrialized wind and the long-term consequences of such projects. She missed an opportunity to query why such people, experiencing successful, quiet lives, would put aside their privacy, comfort and personal safety to confront a “green energy” project that they deeply believed to be wrong.
Flagg’s assertion that “truth and justice look quite different depending on what side of the mountain you’re standing on,” was simplistic. Money trumps regional harmony, corporations trump citizens. When government and corporations join forces, great harm can be done in the name of great good.
Federally subsidized industrial wind projects — built by foreign-owned interests, masquerading as “green energy,” sending intermittent electricity to a grid already laden with much cheaper and substantially carbon-free energy — will continue to be vigorously opposed in the Northeast Kingdom. On November 6, Shumlin lost to Brock, not only in Craftsbury and Albany (the other side of the mountain), but also Orleans and Essex Counties.
I do not see communities along the wind-rich east coast of Lake Champlain lining up for their turbines. Maybe when that part of the state has some skin in the game, a writer from Seven Days will take the role of investigator a bit more seriously.
[Re “One Homeowner’s Creative Clutter Stirs Controversy in South Burlington,” November 21]: As a resident of Meadow Road in South Burlington, which borders Hadley Road and the green space in question, I have been aware of the growing disgruntlement of my neighbors over Adam’s house on the corner, but was surprised to hear that they had organized and gone to city officials before talking to Adam himself about their concerns.
Adam’s a nice, approachable guy and there’s certainly nothing sinister about the vibe at his house. It just doesn’t seem cricket to work neighborhood issues out in this fashion, at least not without trying to work them out on the ground floor first. It seemed clear to me that Adam was making an effort to clean things up after he heard that neighbors were having issues with how things looked at his place. That shows his willingness to collaborate. Such an effort could have been answered in kind.
Unfortunately, my feeling is that the issue of vehicles parked on the green space is being used as a front for the real issue, which is about, as Ben Aleshire so aptly put it, middle-class fear.
Frankly, many of us need to look at this in ourselves, and I’m including myself here, because our resources as a society are limited and we need to have our priorities straight. We have had several violent, drug-related events in this neighborhood in the past few years, as well as a crack-house bust, a Peeping Tom, and numerous car burglaries. Why are we so focused on a few cars and boats when we have real problems to work on?
We got a lot of letters in reaction to Kathryn Flagg’s November 14 story, “Toll on Call” — mostly from patients of Dr. David Toll, 87, St. Johnsbury’s longest-practicing pediatrician. Sounds like he’s getting pretty good at it.
Thank you for the great article on Dr. Toll. I remember my mom calling him at home when my brother and I were sick during the night, and he answered his own phone. He’d meet us at the hospital if needed or make sure and fit us in first thing in the a.m. He’s been calming the fears of children and parents in the Northeast Kingdom for over 60 years. Thank you for recognizing his unique practice.
Dr. Toll was my and my sister’s doctor when we were kids. I remember him always having a smile on his face. He has been my 12-year-old son’s doctor since my son was born. I remember after I had my son, the nurse at the hospital asked who would be the baby’s medical doctor. Without hesitation, I said “Dr. Toll.” I never considered anyone else, because I knew Dr. Toll was warm and caring, and I loved his way of doing things.
When my son was 5 months old, I went to check on him and his face was blue. He wasn’t breathing. I did CPR on him and called the ambulance. I got my son to breathe. When the ambulance got to my house, they looked my son over and said nothing was wrong with him. His pulse and everything was fine.
When they left, I called Dr. Toll. He said to bring him in.
Because I don’t drive, Dr. Toll paid for a taxi to get me to the hospital. That night my son stopped breathing five times, and if it wasn’t for Dr. Toll’s help, he would have died. I’m grateful for Dr. Toll every day and am so happy he is still practicing.
Dr. Toll has been my family doctor for as long as I can remember. I am almost 30, and he is still my doctor as well as my four children’s. I am so scared for the day that he is no longer able to practice medicine. There is no doctor around like him. He is very caring and good with kids, but he also has the “I am gonna give it to you straight” attitude. I have seen that a few times, and I still love that man. I hope he can find someone who will take over for him who is just as caring as he is. Dr. Toll will be greatly missed when he is no longer here; until then, he is greatly loved.
Last fall I took my daughter to the ER at Fletcher Allen. She had had no bowel movement for three days and a history of intestinal blockage. We told the physician of her history. He didn’t seem that interested in what we had to say. They sent us home with a bisacodyl suppository.
The next morning we called Dr. Toll and he told us to bring her in to see him. He spent a few minutes examining her and sent us directly to Northeast Vermont Regional Hospital, where she spent two days on IVs. She had a serious blockage that stretched her intestines and took six months to heal. She could have died.
Dr. Toll is not an old-school doctor; he is a real doctor.