Letters to the Editor
Smell the Clover House
Hello, I am writing in response to your article about the opening of the Lighthouse Restaurant & Lounge [Side Dishes, January 30]. The article states that Doug Simms closed the Clover House restaurant on December 31, 2012; it reads as though the Clover House is no more, but in fact it is simply under new management and doing great! I hope readers will know that the Clover House is still open for business, and that the pub food is better than ever, in this reader’s opinion.
Redesign Too Radical
Selling magazines these days is tough, but I don’t think Vermont Life did itself any favors by embarking on such a radical redesign of the magazine when the new editor took over from Tom Slayton [“Vermont Life Support?” January 23]. There’s a lot of emphasis now on food, no doubt due in some part to the editor’s background as a food editor. Is that what readers actually want? I’m not sure. No doubt the “staid, nostalgic look,” as you put it, had to undergo a change, but I think the new direction of the magazine, with its attempt to be more hip and edgy, has alienated a lot of its former readers and obviously not attracted enough new ones to make up for their loss.
[Re Poli Psy: “Poor Logic,” January 30]: I was a lawyer for Vermont Legal Aid in the 1980s, representing parents who needed public assistance. They loved their kids, but there was not one I met who could work at a regular job without great difficulty, in spite of their desire to do so. Some were very kind people but low IQ. Some had been abused when their parents went to work and were scared about putting their kids in daycare. Don’t judge. Good job, Judith Levine.
Molly Farrell Tucker
I am not feeling the love, Seven Days. Your “Love and Marriage Issue” [February 6] is well decorated with the historical norm and culturally acceptable form of love between a man and a woman. But disappointingly, the only love illustrated between a same-sex couple is that of two men in an advertisement for HIV testing. Really? Are you reserving some alternative love for coverage of the upcoming Winter Is a Drag Ball?
Given the fortunate attitude and progressive thinking that much of the Burlington community holds towards queer individuals and relationships, I was shocked to see such one-sided coverage on love and marriage. The more we see same-sex relationships become universally accepted and less and less of a cultural issue, the more past-oriented it becomes to see and hear of love and marriage as only between a man and woman.
Diamonds are not every woman’s best friend, and love isn’t always found in members of the opposite sex. The less we define love and marriage with a single image, the more those words are accompanied by an individual’s definition — not that from history, religion or the dictionary.
Homeless Aren’t Aliens
I, for one, am glad there’s a program that has made it possible to have temporary housing this winter [“Checkout Time? Leaders Question a Program That Puts Vermont’s Homeless in Motels,” January 30]. Some of us have just had a string of bad luck in renting situations, roommates not paying rent, etc., and that is what has led us to being homeless. I disagree with Deputy Commissioner Richard Giddings’ statement about us being treated as any other motel guest. I can attest to the fact that while at the University Inn, you are not welcome to even a cup of coffee, so it does happen. We are homeless and are just waiting for our next streak of luck; we’re not aliens. I’m very grateful for this help and just want to be treated the same as anyone else who just happens to be down on their luck — nothing more.
Another Voice of Goddard
As a current employee of Goddard College, I felt compelled to respond to your February 13 article “Presidential Appeal: How Barbara Vacarr plans to save Goddard College.” We are fortunate to have a dedicated staff that cares very deeply for the welfare of the college. For Seven Days to dismiss our opinions and actions as “these murmurings of disgruntled employees” is downright insulting. Regardless of where anyone stands on the various issues Goddard is currently dealing with, all voices should hold some value.
Entitled to Abuse?
[Re Last 7, “Horse Horrors,” January 30]: The horrific case of horse abuse in Shelburne and the owner’s denial of responsibility goes beyond the obvious facts. It is a sad truth that many Americans do not take responsibility for their actions, whether something as mundane as littering or something far more serious such as animal or child abuse. We have become a very entitled society with a “me first” attitude. Sadly, this entitlement is seen in all ages, from the 7-year-old who bullies another child to someone like George Wilson, whose biggest concern was the “invasion” of his property.
That entitlement reaches to the laws in Vermont regarding animal abuse. Far too often one reads of cases of severe abuse and, ultimately, no punishment or a slap on the wrist for the perpetrator. I suspect this goes back to a more rural time when people felt they were entitled to treat their animals however they chose without interference from a higher authority; the old “you can’t tell me what to do on my property” Vermont philosophy.
I hope Seven Days will keep the updates coming on this case, and bless Spring Hill Horse Rescue for taking in the horses. If the media keep their circumstances in the public light, perhaps some Vermonters will feel entitled to help with donations for their care.
[Re “Dueling Cultures: After Sandy Hook, Gun Control May Finally Have a Shot in Vermont,” February 6]: Ed Wilson’s statement about Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution and the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is unmitigated B.S. No statement in any holy book was even written after the invention of firearms, except the Book of Mormon. Mr. Wilson may also believe that the Spanish Inquisition, burning “witches” and stoning women to death for not wearing a veil was also dictated by God, but I don’t. He should, however, take note of one of the 10 Commandments — you know, the one about taking His name in vain? I am constantly amazed by the stupidity of “religious” folk who ignore the damage done by humans in the name of God. Then again, since I am not all knowing, perhaps God does approve of high-cap magazines, semiauto rifles capable of firing 20-plus rounds without reloading, etc. Hey, Lord, how about homemade napalm?
Not All Negative
It is too bad the majority of the media coverage, documentaries and public knowledge about migrant farmworkers in Vermont is focused on the negative aspects of their experiences here [“Midd Kids’ Documentary Shows How Vermont Dairy Workers Get Milked,” January 9; “Last Prostitution Ring Perp to be Sentenced, but Vermont Migrant Farmworker Scandal Is Not Over Yet,” February 6]. I have worked through UVM for nearly a decade, collaborating with and conducting research on a large number of migrant workers and farm owners throughout the state. My take is that, for the most part, migrants and dairies are a good match. Dairies are seeking a willing and able workforce; migrant workers are seeking lower-skill-level jobs that provide plenty of hours and decent pay. On the majority of the 400 or so Vermont farms that employ migrant workers, those needs are met mutually.
It is unfair to expect that there would be no problems on these farms, given the cultural and language gaps. However, it is equally unfair to characterize farmers as slave drivers who don’t care about their workers. As many of us know, farming is hard, dangerous work. Long hours are an essential part of the job. It is also part of the reason migrant workers are attracted to the farms.
Documentaries such as Hide are a valuable tool for the ordinary Vermonter to catch a glimpse into the life of a migrant farmworker. The danger is that they often are not representative of the whole migrant farm population in Vermont. Most farms truly appreciate their migrant workers — as valuable employees, as friends and, in some cases, as though they were members of the family.
[Re “Can a Pledge Drive Save Burlington Telecom From Corporate Ownership?” January 30]: A few years ago, Burlington Telecom was involved in a vigorous political struggle over the television channel Al Jazeera in English. The channel was offered free to Burlington Telecom, so in 2007, people in Burlington started tuning in to Al Jazeera’s news coverage for a different perspective.
But in 2008, members of the Israel Center of Vermont wrote letters demanding that the channel be dropped, and the then-business manager of BT agreed to do so. A large controversy ensued, with meetings involving hundreds of people. Since the great majority of those who weighed in were in favor of keeping the channel, that point of view prevailed.
None of this would have happened with one of the big corporate providers. They restrict their offerings to what they think is good for us — take it or leave it. But since Burlington Telecom was publicly owned, it was possible for people to overrule what was seen as censorship.
Burlington Telecom’s excellent physical system will presumably be put to use by some kind of enterprise, whether privately, publicly or cooperatively owned. At this point, the best hope for maintaining local democratic control over it is a member-owned co-op. The business model is sound; the question is whether enough people will pledge to buy shares when — and if — Keep BT Local reaches its critical mass.
Inside the Motel Problem
[Re Feedback, “Emergency, Indeed,” February 6; “Checkout Time? Leaders Question a Program That Puts Vermont’s Homeless in Motels,” January 30]: Saying that the “entire system of emergency housing is abused” and presumably in need of serious reform, overhaul, cutbacks, etc., is like saying that the Enron scandal is representative of the behavior of business owners as a whole. Like the author, I am an “insider” in this system and I believe that the author’s claims are little more than one-sided hyperbole.
Of course there are abuses of the social safety net, just as there are myriad abuses of tax codes and financial regulations. Of course the emergency housing program is a crisis-oriented approach with little long-term social benefit. Of course the epidemic of prescription-drug abuse in Vermont contributes to the problem. Despite these challenges, we must not forget that people are often poor due to circumstances outside of their control and that most people would choose a livable-wage job over addiction, poverty and homelessness.
Vermonters struggling with homelessness, hunger, addiction and poverty deserve our compassion. Pretending that these issues are the result of personal moral failing or that they represent a “choice” on the part of the individual is myopic and cruel. The end result is a less compassionate society and ineffective social policies that end up exacting unnecessary financial and human costs over the long run.
The publisher of Backcountry magazine was misidentified in a story last week entitled “Ridge Writers.” He is Adam Howard — not Jon Howard … One of last week’s “Facing Facts” misstated that Maple Grove Farms is the largest producer of maple syrup in Vermont; it is the largest distributor of the sweet stuff.