Forum: Aug. 22: No to Glenn McCoy; Yes to Shawn Braley; Worthy Candidates

Glenn McCoy’s Nasty Scratchings

To the Editor:

I strongly agree in principle with those who defend the publication of Glenn McCoy’s nasty scratchings. I too am interested in all points of view that are relevant, offered in good faith, and based on appropriate evidence. Subversive imagination also makes a delicious ingredient in political cartoons.

The problem with McCoy is that his work so often falls short of every one of those measures. The comic from your Aug. 19 issue is a sadly typical case in point. This comic, like so many of his, is nothing more than a lazy admixture of ignorance and disinformation. Its clear message is that Obama cares more about golf and vacations than he does about world events, a desperate talking point enjoying an inevitably brief popularity spike with many reactionary ideologues. This message is both untrue and entirely hypocritical. Obama has taken one-third of the vacation days of his couch-potato predecessor, yet McCoy would never have considered depicting Bush as leisure-addled.

Further, McCoy’s drawing style, resembling some delinquent student’s primitive fantasy doodle of a loathed authority figure impaled with a gratuitous quantity of spears and machetes, emotionally soothes the one side while inciting the other. Neither effect is worthy of the energy of publication by a serious newspaper.

Were I inclined to the conservative world view I would consider McCoy an embarrassment, tarring all who share his political leanings with a petty, resentful foolishness.

Is there not, at long last, some other conservative cartoonist with more rhetorical pride and talent than Mr. McCoy? Perhaps Steve Kelley, Dartmouth graduate?

Or is the Valley News editorial staff as interested in incitement as McCoy?

Thomas Summerall


Two Qualified Candidates

To the Editor:

Here’s an idea. Why not elect two candidates in the Windsor-Orange 2 Democratic legislative district primary who already have a proven record of working together and who would preserve the tradition of a representative from each county? As an added benefit, Jim Masland has already represented both Orange and Windsor counties over his eight terms and Irv Thomae has lived and worked in Windsor County since 1975 and until recently served as vice chairman of the Windsor County Democratic Committee.

As was clear at the Thetford Democratic Forum, held Aug. 14, both candidates have extensive knowledge of the broad range of issues discussed and are also extremely articulate. Of the four candidates, they were the only two who emphasized the importance of advocating for individual constituents and welcomed the opportunity. In addition, they have been collaborating since 2008 on the grassroots effort to extend high-quality fiber broadband access to both Windsor and Orange counties.

Jim Masland’s 16 years of grappling with local and state issues as a legislator are not to be taken lightly. He served many years on the boards of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the regional planning commission, the local solid waste district and as a Thetford Selectman. He has achieved significant seniority while building a network in the Legislature that a newcomer may never achieve.

Irv Thomae’s mastery of state education finance issues goes back to the early 1990s and his experience shouldn’t be ignored at a time when school budgets are tightening and schools are losing pupils. He has helped many district residents understand and take advantage of the income sensitivity component of the education law and regularly and successfully testified in the Legislature on school funding issues. Having a representative from Windsor County, which has almost 60 percent of the district’s population, can only broaden the opportunities for cooperation between the county delegations.

I can also personally attest to the incredible number of hours and the energy that both Irv and Jim have invested in the local birth and expansion of ECFiber and its success in bringing high-speed broadband to this region. In fact, I would challenge candidates to demonstrate that they have accomplished anything remotely approaching the potential future commercial and social benefits that this represents. It’s a game-changer.

Stephen Willbanks


Briglin Has The Right Experience

To the Editor:

We are supporting Tim Briglin in Tuesday’s Vermont House primary election to represent Sharon, Norwich, Strafford and Thetford. The policy challenges faced by Vermont in the next two years are the most difficult we’ve faced in decades. Given the intense focus on universal health care implementation and education finance reform, we need to elect representatives best able to hit the ground running in January. Not only does Tim have the depth of experience to allow him to be highly effective on these issues, his ability to listen carefully, act thoughtfully and work collaboratively with other legislators will serve his constituents well. We have complex issues before us. We need our most qualified citizens addressing them. We urge you to vote for Tim this Tuesday.

Brad Atwood

Michael Livingston


Candidate Masters the Details

To the Editor:

I have served in the Vermont Legislature with Jim Masland for over a decade. I’ve gotten to know him well and have seen how he operates as a House member. He works well with members of all parties in both the House and Senate and forms coalitions that help good legislation get passed. Jim is always willing to help newer members understand both the process and the substance of our work. He’s a member who can be trusted to be straightforward and honest and he really works to understand the details of issues (and we’ve all learned that the devil is in the details). When he speaks on the House floor, he is concise in providing both insightful opinion and facts. I hope to serve with Jim again in 2015.

Rep. Patsy French


A Contributor From Day One

To the Editor:

With universal health care financing on the front burner, Vermont’s next legislative session will be short but momentous. New legislators won’t have a lot of time to get up to speed. That’s why I’m strongly supporting the candidacy of Tim Briglin in the Democratic primary for the Windsor-Orange 2 House seat. Tim serves on Gov. Peter Shumlin’s health care financing advisory panel and he has strong financial and quantitative skills. This work is incredibly complex and too important to get wrong. We need our most knowledgeable and committed citizens in Montpelier, people like Tim who can jump in feet first and take on this challenge from day one.

James Bandler


Celebrate the Mink Brook

To the Editor:

Fifteen years ago, the peaceful forest we know as the Mink Brook Nature Preserve was slated to become a residential subdivision. This 112-acre natural retreat, just a few minutes’ walk from downtown Hanover, is the result of deep generosity, community spirit and effective partnerships.

Over 450 gifts arrived in support of the land’s protection in 1999, and substantial support from Dartmouth College and the Quinn Family, honoring the significance of this place to the Abenaki, assured the land would remain open for all to enjoy. We were fortunate to be able to collaborate with the Upper Valley Land Trust in its purchase, and UVLT now holds the conservation easement. The preserve links other protected lands from the brook to the river — the Angelo Tanzi Tract and Mink Brook West, owned by the Town of Hanover, and UVLT’s own brook-side parcel.

Join us on Sunday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. to celebrate this happy change of fate for the mink, bears and human neighbors of the brook. We’re planning family-friendly festivities with children’s activities, special memories, performance of an Abenaki change story, trail tours, and a taste of Mink Tracks Gelato, concocted for this event by our friends at Morano Gelato.

All are welcome. Find details on our website,

Adair Mulligan

Executive Director

Hanover Conservancy

At the Top of the List

To the Editor:

I write in support of Jill Michaels for the seat in the Legislature that represents Norwich, Sharon, Strafford and Thetford. Our district has sent a woman to Montpelier to represent us for years — Ann Siebert, Margaret Cheney, Kathy Hoyt — and we’ve got the opportunity to continue that tradition of ensuring a woman’s voice that represents us. I wish we could be proud of a Legislature that’s 50 percent men and 50 percent women, and I’m very proud we have a qualified woman running for this primary.

And I am not playing the “girl” card — Jill has extensive experience in economic development and environmental stewardship and the discipline and training of an MBA degree. She’s lived in Strafford for years, knows our area well and knows the state.

This year we have a strong set of candidates for this Democratic primary — Jill is at the top of my list for my two votes.

Anne Peyton


Braley’s Sense of Place

To the Editor:

This brings warm thanks to Shawn Braley and to the Valley News for publishing his drawings. Time and again, for me, they surpass how a photograph could speak in their stead. They are imaginative, humorous and exquisitely detailed — a different “voice” from the one photograph which, true, can speak a thousand words.

Think of what place means to you, wherever you are from. If a depth of feeling and attachment comes, is it not only from the geography itself, but also from the life lived — or prevented from being lived naturally — within it? When that life can be lived in peace, whether in Vermont, in the Middle East or anywhere else, this second piece of that wholeness, it seems to me, is what can lift us above difference of place. So the wonder of Braley’s human hand in portraying tended maple sap buckets, or the exquisitely drawn Bag Lunch (a young cat sitting under, looking up at, a cow’s udder”) puts me in the same “place” as the loving tender of his olive trees in the Middle East — opens me to the unspeakable pain of seeing those trees, along with the tenders’ livelihood for generations, being demolished.

I find, over time, that this exposure to Braley’s work has brought a gradual, welcome restorative sense of balance, though complete it can hardly be, and of hope for mankind, even given the extent of horror currently in the global scene. Perhaps being a native Vermonter too is why his work takes on greater significance for me.

Kayren Morrill