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Forum, Aug. 1: Columnist Fatigue; Co-op Principles; Shop Locally, but Be Earth-Friendly

A Case of Columnist Fatigue

To the Editor:

Experiencing Co-op fatigue? No, I’m experiencing a severe case of Kenyon fatigue. In his latest screed (“Bunker Mentality,” July 27), he dismisses the letters and testimony of employees who claim to be happy with their jobs and well-treated as being intimidated or insufficiently serious (since they are “happy with collecting a paycheck and receiving decent health benefits”). This is classic Kenyon: ignore any information that contradicts what he has already determined to be fact.

Allan Reetz was wise to decline Mr. Kenyon’s request for comment. Once Mr. Kenyon has decided his angle on a story, talking to him serves no purpose. In his column Mr. Kenyon stated: “From what I can gather, the Co-op’s management doesn’t hesitate to use intimidation tactics to keep workers from talking.” In a previous article, Mr. Kenyon suggested that two long-time Co-op employees might have been fired because of union activity; a charge the former employees themselves later refuted. If he has proof of intimidation tactics he should produce it, or stop pretending to be anything other than a pretentious, loud-mouthed hack.

Jen Friend

Orford

Co-op Should Stick to Principles

To the Editor:

During the meeting of the Co-op Board of Directors on July 23, many members faulted General Manager Terry Appleby for terminating two longtime and well-respected employees in a manner not consistent with Co-op principles and values. At the evening session, however, Director John Rosenquest explained that the general manager is not strictly bound by these principles and values. So long as the general manager does not violate the prohibitions of the Hanover Co-op Governance Policies on Treatment of Staff, Section EL 5, he can terminate employees in any way he wishes, and the board has no grounds for contesting — let alone overturning — his actions.

But Section EL 5 begins as follows: “The GM shall not treat staff in any way that is unfair, unsafe, unclear, or inconsistent with the Cooperative Values and Principles.” As explained in the Co-op bylaws, these are the values and principles “promulgated by the International Cooperative Alliance.” And the first principle of the ICA is that “Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity” as well as “the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.”

Since the very first prohibition of EL 5 makes these Co-op values and principles absolutely essential to and inseparable from the Co-op policies on treatment of staff, how can anyone reasonably infer that EL 5 exempts the GM from strict adherence to these principles and values? And does the board truly believe that his way of terminating John Boutin and Dan King was not “in any way” inconsistent with the Co-op values of “honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others”? On the contrary, if the GM’s treatment of Dan and John failed to be consistent with those values “in any way,” he has violated the first prohibition of EL 5.

At its evening session on July 23, the board voted to set up a task force charged with reviewing EL 5 to see if its provisions might be improved so as to ensure more fairness in the treatment of Co-op staff. But there is really no need to revise the prohibitions of EL 5. All the board needs to do is to start enforcing the first one — right now.

James Heffernan

Hanover

Shop Locally, But Earth-Friendly

To the Editor:

The article “How Ignoring Climate Change Could Sink the U.S. Economy” (July 27) was of paramount importance. It offered those who still deny the reality of climate change, or who are indifferent to its effect on the myriad life forms in nature, a compelling reason to take it seriously and reduce their own use of the energy that produces greenhouse gases.

However, there are still many who do not grasp the latter connection. A striking example can be seen in regional farmers markets and food stores. Last Saturday at the Norwich Farmers Market a vendor selling luscious strawberries was swathing each box with a generous amount of plastic wrap. She and others like her were unaware that such plastic is derived from petroleum and natural gas, and that extraction of those substances from the earth releases carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas that blankets the atmosphere and contributes to the overall rise in temperature on our planet.

It’s hard to see the connection between wrapping berries in plastic and polar bears drowning as the Arctic ice pack melts, but it is real and compelling. And plastic does not break down. It may deteriorate into small pellets that are finding their way into our oceans and either choking or being ingested by sea life — even the fish that we eat. Cotton netting would contain the strawberries just as effectively as plastic and without these dire consequences.

Audrey McCollum

Etna

Be a ‘Friendship Family’

To the Editor:

Once again it is the time of year when I hope you will consider becoming a “Friendship Family” for a Dartmouth International Student. This will be the 14th year I have been part of the program and I love it. “My” students have come from Syria, Beirut, England and Swaziland. It’s great for your children or for empty nesters. It can be lots of fun and so interesting. There is a website where host families share ideas for excursions.

Below is part of a letter written by the Dartmouth Friendship Family intern Alison Guh:

“The Friendship Family Program is a unique international student program that matches incoming Dartmouth international students with Upper Valley families to help them form cross-cultural friendships and experience American culture beyond the college campus. In addition, it provides an opportunity for many Upper Valley families to learn about the culture and experiences of their student.

“As a Friendship Family, you would have the opportunity to get to know your international student and become his or her family away from home. ... You and your student will meet up as your schedules permit (please note this does not entail hosting your student overnight). We encourage Friendship Families to invite their students to their homes for meals, holiday celebrations, occasional family outings, or anything else that would enrich an international student’s time in the United States.

“If you are interested in participating, or have questions or concerns, please contact Alison.J.Guh.17@dartmouth.edu. And if you plan on participating in the FFP this year, please reserve the evening of Monday, Sept. 22 from 5-7 to meet your student at our opening reception. For more information, please check out our website at: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~opal/international/friendship/index.html.”

Carola Lea

Lyme

Norwich’s Future Needs

To the Editor:

I would like to respond to Matt Hebert’s recent letter (“Vocal Minority in Norwich,” July 29) concerning Norwich Town Manager Neil Fulton, Hebert’s attendance at a Selectboard meeting and the proposed public safety buildings in Norwich.

I did not attend the meeting, but if Hebert was treated with disrespect I hope it does not happen again. Norwich is very lucky to have professional management and employees. I for one am very grateful for their service, professionalism and dedication.

I also think that department heads have been given ample opportunity to give input on the deteriorating state of their facilities. It does not seem appropriate for the town manager to state that they “endorse” a particular plan. For instance, if they did not publicly endorse the plan, would that not be an act of insubordination?

I do think that there is middle ground to be explored concerning the scale and scope of the proposed facility, and questions about whether the police department should be the main focus at this time.

I urge all Norwich residents who care about this issue to study the plan included in the “Open Letter” sent out by Fulton’s office on the Norwich listserv on July 22. The link is: http://norwich.vt.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/17/Staff-Recommendations07-21-14.pdf.

Mary Layton

Norwich

People and Business People

To the Editor:

I don’t get it. I am considered as people and you are considered as people, and now the United States Supreme Court considers large corporations as people, and all people are considered equal; how come we the people pay taxes and large corporations don’t?

Also, we pay 30 percent taxes on our personal income and millionaires and billionaires pay less. Are we all equal or not? Money talks.

Robert H. Polland

Enfield