Letters to the Editor
Eva Sollberger’s Stuck in Vermont series has always held my interest, and the Robert Achinda story was very well done and presented [February 6]. I admire your journalistic spectrum; it gives a true worldview, and I say kudos to Sollberger and the freedom Seven Days gives her to showcase Vermont and its people of all races, creeds and colors! Thank you!
Get Real, Bud
Wow, does it get any phonier than our millionaire governor posing as Joe Six-Pack [Last 7, February 6]? I don’t give a hoot what beer he drinks; this is such a clear political ploy to pretend he is aligned with anybody but the owning class he is serving. Governor Gucci is part of the slick new Democrats crowding the political landscape. Socially liberal, they play their part for the rich by pushing austerity and announcing, as Shumlin did as soon as he got elected, that he would not raise taxes. This means he holds the well-to-do, who have done so extraordinarily well redistributing wealth upward, harmless. Then he imposes austerity on those who are barely surviving in this planned-from-above economy. I think too many Vermonters are fooled into thinking we are a progressive state. Please note that Shumlin’s priorities are protection for the wealthy and pain for the poor.
One More Question
Seven Days deserves high praise for covering a Vermont corner of the nation’s munitions industry [“In Franklin County, a Global Arms Dealer Quietly Makes a Killing,” January 23]. For decades I have wondered how the nation’s gun manufacturers succeed in operating in the shadows. Why is it the press (almost) never shines a spotlight in their direction?
Shortly after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, WBUR’s On Point spent an hour talking about the political power of the National Rifle Association without once mentioning the munitions industry. It seems fair to at least speculate about a possible connection between the most powerful lobbying organization in the country and those who have the most to gain from its efforts.
Your article was excellent. However, there is one question the reporter forgot to ask: He noted that Century has no lobbyists and gives no donations to political candidates. But please, tell me: How much are their annual contributions to the NRA?
[Re “For Some Near Goddard College, Wood Heat Isn’t Good Heat,” January 16]: The real issue regarding industrial-scale biomass energy is the outrageous waste of taxpayer dollars and the funding of these horribly polluting incinerators through corrupt legislation and government agencies. These federal subsidies benefit industry at the expense of public health, clean air, clean water and forests.
Why are cash grants being handed out for the construction of biomass facilities despite their environmental and public health impacts? Cash-strapped taxpayers are paying for federal and state investment tax credits, and it is clear that all sectors of government are involved — from permitting to environmental research to suppliers and manufacturers.
Faith Brown, Goddard College’s chief administrative officer, commented in Seven Days, “Few disgruntled neighbors don’t a town make.” Of course it’s the neighbors who are outraged, as Goddard has kept the rest of Plainfield in the dark by pushing the facility through the permitting process in secret.
For Goddard to have the audacity to put this particulate-spewing monstrosity directly in view of all the neighbors’ homes at the furthest edge of its 100-plus-acre campus and as far away from all the campus buildings as it can is distressing. There is a well-documented fire and explosion risk from biomass energy facilities, and our homes are too close for comfort.
Goddard’s biomass incinerator is costing the public in excess of half a million dollars, and it is ignorance and greed, not fear, as Tim Maker suggests, that is the problem here.
All energy requires some sort of trade-off [Re “For Some Near Goddard College, Wood Heat Isn’t Good Heat,” January 16]. Replacing Goddard College’s 22-year-old oil-burning furnaces with a wood-heating plant with a state-of-the-art scrubber to minimize particulates while utilizing a renewable resource harvested within 35 miles, which provides local jobs, seems responsible, sensible and maybe even progressive.
Hell to Pay!
Thank you for writing this article on this [“Daycare Nightmares,” January 30]. I have a 3-year-old in daycare, and it scared me to death! Thank you for making those disgusting daycare names available. My child is in one of the best daycares around! Hand in Hand Creative Learning Center in Essex. I never worry about the treatment of my child or any other child there. The staff love and care for the children as if they were their own. If anyone used my child as a bat while some other adult threw a ball at them, there would be hell to pay!
A Disservice to Daycare
The sensational title of the article, [“Daycare Nightmares: What Parents Don’t Know About Vermont Childcare Could Hurt Their Kids,” January 30] and the accompanying photo of a sour-faced child in a prison-like setting seemed to serve no purpose other than to instill fear in parents and create unrest within our community. As a strong voice for the community, Ken Picard had an opportunity to positively impact the field of early care and education. Instead, by focusing on childcare “nightmares,” he limited our present and future ability to reshape the values, habits and behaviors of the community and lessened our field’s prospects for being recognized as legitimate spokespersons.
There is indeed work to be done to make the level of quality found in Vermont’s childcare programs more consistent; Picard proves that point very well. However, I am left feeling incredibly disappointed — as a professional, as a parent, as an active community member and as a tireless advocate for children and families — with Picard’s complete disregard of the complexities that communities face in their effort to create a more functional childcare system. The article did nothing to educate readers or help them gain a better understanding of the field, nor did it ever celebrate the many successes that the field has achieved against great odds and obstacles, created in part by articles such as this. I believe that Picard’s negative focus was irresponsible and hurtful, and it decreased the level of trust that I have in Seven Days.
Lisa M. Guerrero
Guerrero is an early-childhood educator in South Burlington.
[Re “Keeping Watch: As the Media Landscape Shifts, Public-Access TV Faces an Uncertain Future,” January 23]: Unless you can point out someone whose future is certain, we must conclude everyone’s future is uncertain.
Help, Not a Handout
The title of [Poli Psy, “Poor Logic,” January 30] is doubly apt, as Ms. Levine’s logic is no less “poor” than the logic that has kept those below the poverty line struggling for generations. While I could not in good conscience argue for an end to welfare and public assistance for the most vulnerable, this attack on political reforms does nothing to fix the problem.
Bayard Rustin is wrong; money is not the only difference between the rich and the poor. I can attest to how demoralizing poverty can be, but that has never stopped, nor even slowed, me in my personal goals for success. I, too, balked at the governor’s plan to take some tax breaks from the working poor (as this is directly money from my pocket), but if it is going to help the children of poor families, I find myself at a loss for the downside.
I find arguments like Ms. Levine’s (particularly her need to assess “blame”) troubling because it does nothing but stir angry sentiment from the poor. I challenge Levine and Seven Days as a whole to really examine this issue and draw meaningful conclusions, rather than emotional ones, about how much good this shift in funding will actually do. The poor in this state need help, but not a handout. That line has to be drawn, and I, for one, as a member of the working poor who has never been part of the welfare system, think more should be done to promote getting jobs, not getting paid.
View From the Couch
Your article based on Dr. Sandra Steingard’s courageous questioning of her experience prescribing antipsychotic drugs for the treatment of serious mental illness covered a complex topic with sensitivity [“HowardCenter’s New Approach to Treating Mental Illness: More Talking, Fewer Meds,” January 16]. The controversial story could be on your front page as startling news, since her revelations directly challenge widespread current practice. And can your reporter look into why only $15,000 and a few staff are reported as using the Open Dialogue method, when large budgets exist for current treatment?
As a psychologist who agrees with Dr. Steingard in this matter, however, I hope that readers will not avoid or discontinue using mental health medications. The appropriate medication can have a helpful place in the management of conditions such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, trauma and psychosis, usually in conjunction with counseling or therapy. As with all health issues, one should seek a knowledgeable provider and frequently check in regarding progress and side effects. Thank you for highlighting this vital topic and consistently covering mental health so well.
Kay Frances Schepp
Dr. Schepp is a licensed psychologist.
As a close family member of a young person with childhood-onset schizophrenia and a general internist, I would like to thank you for [“HowardCenter’s New Approach to Treating Mental Illness: More Talking, Fewer Meds,” January 16]. In addition to way more “lived experience” than I would ever choose, I have studied the disease extensively, read R. Whitaker’s book, attended the Open Dialogue presentation by Dr. Mary Olson and have heard Dr. Steingard speak. I too was shaken to the core by Anatomy of an Epidemic. It would take way more than 250 words to write about all the controversial aspects of this book.
The Howard pilot program sounds very worthwhile. The psychiatrist and other “providers” being willing to do house calls is a fantastic paradigm shift in itself. When my family member had a first clear psychotic break at age 18, the psychiatrist at our area mental health agency said they could not do a house call — despite my plea. I had a feeling it might help, especially since the patient would not go to the agency!
On the subject of brain atrophy in people with schizophrenia: There is a large amount of literature on this topic, and some studies contradict others. After reading many such papers, I am close to certain that the disease itself causes brain atrophy. Some studies also provide pretty convincing evidence that at least some antipsychotics can also cause brain atrophy.
Ruth Kennedy Grant, MD
I appreciate Dr. Sandra Steingard for being willing to reevaluate her practice and for initiating Open Dialogue as a therapy option for psychosis [“HowardCenter’s New Approach to Treating Mental Illness: More Talking, Fewer Meds,” January 16]. As a practicing physician myself, I have been disheartened over the course of my career by the increasingly powerful influence the pharmaceutical industry plays in modern medicine.
We have strayed far from the fundamentals of what creates wellness. Quality interpersonal relationships, nutrition, exercise, fresh air and connection with nature and spirituality are key foundations for optimal health. Increasingly, scientific studies back this up. While pharmaceuticals have a place in the treatment of medical and psychiatric conditions, the industry’s aggressive marketing and biased information have damaged American health care. Increasingly, we are finding adverse effects from long-term use of popularized medications. Antacids such as Prilosec can increase risk of pneumonia and osteoporotic fractures. Statin medications, which have an important place in treating heart disease, have been marketed to increasingly broad populations. Side effects such as increased rates of diabetes in certain populations, as well as muscle weakness and memory issues, are emerging.
Health care providers need to take the lead in restoring balance to the American medical system. Thank you, Dr. Steingard, for challenging the status quo.
Anne Knott, MD
Knott is a physician at Winooski Family Health.
There was a birth-order error in last week’s story, “Feasting, Home Style,” about culinary preparations for a Jordanian wedding. Sama is the second-eldest child in the Hayyat family — not the eldest, as stated.