Forum, June 16: A Teacher’s Influence

Thursday, June 15, 2017
A Teacher’s Influence

I was touched to read about Marty Layman-Mendonca in your Hartford High School graduation article (“A Good Base to Build On: Hartford Teacher Remembered,” June 10). I want to add my tribute to Marty. I met her when she first moved to White River Junction and she was very pregnant. We visited quite often over the course of several years and I knew from what little she shared that she left behind a less-than-perfect childhood. Yet it can truly be said that she “made something of her life.”

She had such a self-deprecating sense of humor accompanied by that crooked little smile. I can still see it. It is obvious that she had a big and positive influence on many people and this memory which we carry of her will lift us up over the sorrow we have about her too-short life.

Janet Eller


Missing From the Article

The June 10 account of former White River Elementary teacher Marty Layman-Mendonca (“A Good Base to Build On: Hartford Teacher Remembered,” June 10) was moving and brought back memories. However, something was missing from the article: acknowledgment of the graduation ceremony for the Hartford High School class of 2017. A cursory survey of the other recent graduation accounts invariably included the names of valedictorian, salutatorian and usually the class president as well. So here’s to you, Maeve Sneddon, Conor Joyce and Kenna Hausler, for a job well done and speeches nicely presented.

Dawn Huston

White River Junction

Stand Up for Collective Bargaining

I am writing in regard to Gov. Phil Scott’s recent veto of the Vermont state budget. In April, he proposed to shift negotiation of teachers’ health insurance from the local to the state level. This shift, he said, would amount to an estimated $26 million in savings, but it would deny teachers the right to bargain with their employer for that particular benefit. The legislative leadership, disagreeing with his proposal to limit bargaining rights, sent him multiple proposals that would have achieved equivalent savings, if not more. When the budget came to a vote in the House and the Senate, it passed 143-1 and 30-0, respectively, meaning that Democrats, Republicans and Progressives came together on this issue. And yet, he vetoed.

He ran for office billed as a Republican willing to work across the aisle. I am dismayed to see him now fall into lockstep with other governors who systematically work to strip collective bargaining rights. Faisal Gill, chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, summed up Scott’s action best when he said, “It is abundantly clear that this veto isn’t about saving taxpayer dollars — it’s about flexing political muscle.”

I would like to remind Gov. Scott that unions are responsible for the development of the middle class, the economic backbone of this country. As their power has been eroded over the past 40-odd years, so too has the middle class. Unions are important because they not only bargain on behalf of their members, they also lobby legislatures and Congress for policies and laws that universally benefit children, families and nonunion workers. This is necessary to counteract the interest of big business with its emphasis on profit over people.

I am asking Gov. Scott to do the right thing. Step up and be both a Republican governor and a good Vermonter. It is fine to demand fiscal responsibility, but please set aside partisan politics. Accept the hard bipartisan work of the Vermont Legislature and approve the state budget with teachers’ collective bargaining rights intact.

Anne Leeds


Attacking Planned Parenthood

I’ve been watching my state Senator Bob Giuda since he was elected, and it’s clear that he is far too extreme. During a recent sate Senate budget session, there was an amendment introduced that would have completely defunded Planned Parenthood of all services it provides — including cancer screenings and sexually transmitted infections treatment. The amendment was an 11th-hour surprise attempt to close Planned Parenthood’s doors by blocking state and federal money from going to any New Hampshire health center offering abortion services, even though abortion procedures are never paid for by taxpayer dollars. Sen. Giuda supported this attempt.

Here are some facts — 63 percent of New Hampshire residents approve of the quality, affordable health care that Planned Parenthood provides. New Hampshire has some of the nation’s lowest rates for teen pregnancy and STI incidence, and has been recognized for the best maternal health outcomes in the country. With extreme politicians attacking health care at a state and federal level, we risk this progress coming undone.

Alexandra Moffat


Good Times on Finance Committee

During the past six years, I have had the privilege of serving on the Hanover Finance Committee, along with a great group of smart, savvy people who freely invested their time and talents in the work of this committee for the benefit of Hanover residents.

My last official act as chair is to thank these volunteers and to sing their praises. It was a pleasure to work with each one, and I will miss our time together discussing, debating, dissecting and wrestling with complex issues to present clear, concise opinions on financial matters of the town and school districts. The work was intense, demanding, exhilarating and fun. It most certainly was fun.

This important work will continue with Kari Asmus serving as chair. Additional members are needed, so if you live in Hanover and would like to serve on the Hanover Finance Committee, please contact Town Manager Julia Griffin, Hanover Selectboard members, or moderators Jonathan Edwards and Stephens Fowler.

Heidi Postupack

Hanover Finance Committee

Leave Opinion Out of News

Your June 6 headline, “Politics Pays Nicely for Sen. Sanders,” was inappropriate, no matter who the person targeted. Leave out “nicely” next time. Readers don’t need or want headlines that imply opinion, there’s already too much of that in current news reporting. Opinion belongs on a different page.

Nancy Marth

East Thetford

It’s All About the Money

The only thing that Donald Trump understands is greed. We are trying to leave the climate change agreement because of money — money that ends up going to the rich, not the working class. Trump is a businessman, and what do business people do? They acquire as much money as possible regardless of anything that may deter making money, i.e., the climate.

The same is true of NATO. Trump talks about “fair share” military spending by NATO members. It’s really about money. He believes other countries are shirking their duties, so the U.S.  has to pay. That causes us citizens to pay for their slack and reduces the net return of the rich.

The U.S. is No. 1 because we lead, we don’t follow. If we allow a businessperson to make global decisions based on money, we are in big trouble.

Charly Rauscher