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Forum, Aug. 21: When Shall We Overcome Racism?; Turning the Other Cheek in Dorchester; Co-op Transparency

When Shall We Overcome Racism?

To the Editor:

It rips my heart out and utterly stuns me that even now, in this wonderfully blessed nation, it is unsafe to be born with dark skin. When will this end? And how do we end it? Having grown up in Memphis, I am no stranger to racial tension and racial unrest. I had hoped that was in our country’s past. I had hoped we had left that behind us some 40 years ago, but it is clearly a stubborn thread in the fabric of our society. And if it could possibly be worse than being unsafe, it may be even worse that those with dark skin must believe they are unsafe — from other citizens and public officials alike. What a difficult way to live and flourish, day after day and year after year.

I once thought that marches were the answer — after all, we ended the Vietnam War and segregation by marching, didn’t we? I guess it wasn’t that simple, and I am not wise enough to know the answer. I hope that someone is wise enough, and that he or she will speak up soon.

Jeannette Birge

Lebanon

Briglin Would Represent Us Well

To the Editor:

I am writing to urge voters of Norwich, Strafford, Sharon and Thetford to support Tim Briglin for representative to the Vermont House. I worked with Tim closely for a number of years on the Thetford Academy Board of Trustees, and know him to be thoughtful, well spoken, financially savvy, a good listener, a creative thinker and someone who brings people together. Tim worked on Sen. Patrick Leahy’s staff in the early 1990s. He is currently working with Gov. Peter Shumlin’s office on how to best finance universal health care in the state. He is a strong believer in renewable energy as an economic opportunity as well as a needed response to climate change.

In 2013, the governor appointed Tim to the Vermont Economic Progress Council, working toward attracting and keeping businesses in Vermont. As a small business owner of a company that invests in and supports manufacturing across the country, he knows what it takes for businesses to succeed in today’s world. Tim also supports an approach to solving our education challenges by maintaining local decision-making. And as a parent and a Vermonter, he knows the importance of keeping Vermont affordable for those who live here, and for young people who want to return to the state to settle down, or who are drawn here for the many reasons we all know so well. I can’t think of a better person to represent our towns in Montpelier, in terms of qualifications, experience and personal integrity. He is already working hard on behalf of all Vermonters. We have two votes for state representative on Aug. 26. Make one of yours a vote for Tim Briglin. We would be most fortunate to have him working on our behalf.

Priscilla (Pril) Hall

Thetford

Write In Dean Corren

To the Editor:

The Aug. 26 primary is indeed important. Please vote! Besides choosing representatives in contested primaries, it is important that Vermont Democrats write in the name of Dean Corren for lieutenant governor and fill in the space beside his name. While he is running unopposed on the Progressive ticket, his positions on issues mirror those of our governor and of our legislative leaders who passed Act 48, which is a pathway to a single-payer, universal health care system in 2017 (the first date when a state can apply for waivers from the present Affordable Care Act).

The single-payer, universal health care system will eliminate the ACA, the confusion, the need to apply (you are in because you are a Vermont resident) and deductibles. And Dean Corren’s knowledge and positions on environmental issues are those of the majority of Vermont Democrats. Go to “Dean Corren” on the web to learn more about this remarkable, principled man.

Ann Raynolds

Pomfret

Irv Thomae’s Qualifications

To the Editor:

I urge the voters of Norwich, Sharon, Strafford and Thetford to cast one of your two votes for state representative for Irv Thomae in the Aug. 26 primary election. I support Irv because he has wide expertise in two issues that will be crucial in the upcoming legislative session.

Education is a hardy perennial, in the Vermont Legislature. With declining enrollment and rising costs, difficult choices are ahead about administrative consolidation, possible school closings and maintaining an effective educational system that prepares our students well. Irv’s 16 years on the Norwich Finance Committee give him the experience needed to work on these issues. Additionally, he understands the complexities of school financing law.

Though a new issue, the expansion of broadband ranks with the coming of the railroads and interstate highways in its potential impact on the Vermont economy. Sparsely populated states like Vermont are going to be increasingly dependent on broadband connections if they are to attract new businesses. The decisions Vermont makes about broadband are going to be especially important to our economic growth. Because he has served on the ECFiber governing board since the company was formed in 2008, he is uniquely qualified to help in making these decisions.

While there are many other reasons to support Irv Thomae in the Windsor 6-2 primary on Aug. 26th, for me these are two of the most significant.

Charles W. Bohi

Hartford

Turn the Other Cheek?

Dear Editor,

This is in response Elizabeth and William Trought’s letter in the Aug. 7 Forum regarding the Dorchester Community Church. In their letter, the Troughts first state that it is the opinion of Dorchester’s Selectboard that “no regularly scheduled church functions or community outreach are happening,” which is entirely false.

The Troughts then accuse the trustees of making a veiled threat regarding the water supply to the Town Hall at the July 17 Selectboard meeting — also false. Further, the Troughts accuse the trustees of being petty and vengeful, when in fact the terms more accurately describe the actions of the Selectboard. Had the Selectboard contacted either the church trustees or their attorney, they would have discovered that the church trustees were concerned about possible litigation if someone were to claim to have become ill after drinking the water.

The trustees have indicated their willingness to consider having the water use continue if the church were to be properly indemnified. At the July 31 Selectboard meeting, Selectboard member Maria Weick asked if there were “any conditions under which the water would be turned on” and noted, “There are people in the audience that can answer that question,” referring to the trustees, who were present.

Chairman Sherman Hallock responded, “We’re not going there,” terminating Weick’s inquiry and preventing any response regarding an indemnification agreement from the trustees. As to the Troughts’ mention of turning the other cheek and “Christian charity,” they at least have that partially right: The church and its trustees have indeed been wronged and forced to “turn their cheeks” — repeatedly — by the Selectboard, whose uncharitable tactics of retribution toward those with whom they disagree must stop.

The Dorchester Community Church continues to function as a religious entity and should be recognized as such. The well situation is simply a smokescreen created by the Selectboard to vilify the church and refuse to recognize that it is in fact used for religious purposes.

Patricia Franz

Trustee, Dorchester Community Church

The Co-op Needs Transparency

To the Editor:

There may be a silver lining to the Co-op’s Wal-Mart-style firings of Dan King and John Boutin. Many of us slumbering Co-op members have finally awakened and have been reading board minutes and financials. What happened while we were sleeping?

The visible signs point to financial trouble, but the financial report was omitted from the 2013 Annual Report to members.

Co-op management rented a locked suite on Buck Road, where you are most unwelcome. Cost of this? The Co-op’s audited financial statements as issued show a materially significant increase in general and administrative expenses (because of Buck Road?), but there is no detail. Obscured are management’s wages and benefits, Buck Road bunker costs, and consultant fees.

How does someone hide our Co-op’s financial details? By management’s decision to use “aggregate” accounting — where expenses are lumped together, hiding details. That means we owners cannot see and understand the Co-op’s financial condition.

Everyone who wants to see justice and transparency returned, anyone who wants to shop there once again and see a rejuvenated staff morale is invited to Storrs Pond for a drop-in “Dan and John” picnic at the main picnic area. That’s Sunday, 5-9 p.m., $5-10 suggested donation (Co-op employees free). No RSVP needed. Local beef burgers and organic veggie burgers will be served with plenty of side dishes and desserts. Hear Dan and John personally update us, learn what needs to be done and find opportunities to join a variety of action committees to help bring the Co-op back from its Buck Road bunker management nosedive.

Robert Spottswood

Norwich

Clarifying My Position on Taxes

To the Editor:

The recent Valley News story on the four Democratic House candidates stated that I favor adopting Federal Adjusted Gross Income as a base for calculating our Vermont Income Tax (“4 Democrats Vie for House Seats,” Aug. 17). Using AGI would eliminate several popular state itemized deductions but would not change any federal deductions, which are far more substantial. That’s true, but what the story omitted is that by going to AGI, we would broaden the base of what is taxed while substantially reducing our income tax rates. If done carefully, middle class taxpayers would be given a well-deserved break, and Vermont’s tax rates would be in line with most other states.

Two years ago, the House Ways and Means Committee worked to craft a tax reform package that moved toward AGI and balanced the impact to give middle class taxpayers a break. It also would have made our overall taxes moderately more progressive. Unfortunately, at the end of the session there was an influx of revenue that rendered the proposal unnecessary, and the bill was thrown under the bus. Had it become law, it is likely that Vermont would not be faced with $31 million of budget cuts that are now a dire necessity.

Rep. Jim Masland

Thetford Center