Forum, July 19: What is Offensive?; Norwich Priorities; Co-op Principles

‘Valley News’ and The Party Line

To the Editor:

How dare the Valley News, the official newspaper of the Upper Valley Democratic Party, print political cartoons or letters to the editor that are offensive to its base of left-wing readers. You must apologize immediately for printing cartoons or letters that your more liberal readers can’t agree with.

Within the last week, in your letters to the editor section, I read of the outrage of two of your readers for publishing an “offensive” Glenn McCoy cartoon. You must know that McCoy’s views are contrary to those of the left-wing base. Never mind that for every one of McCoy’s cartoons, you publish three others that are offensive to conservative Republicans. Seems fair, three out of four for the liberals, but apparently that is not good enough for them.

Another writer was very disturbed that a syndicated writer in your op-ed section wrote a piece that he disagreed with on the Supreme Court’s decision not to require Hobby Lobby to have to buy the four contraceptives that have been labeled as abortion pills. Never mind that the Supreme Court allowed literally a dozen other contraceptives to be approved. Again, that reader felt the Valley News owed him an apology for publishing a letter that he didn’t agree with and felt the op-ed was “an insult.” Please, Valley News editors, if you’re going to run a left-winged newspaper, stop the nonsense with the token right-wing articles, opinions and cartoons and only print what your liberal base wants to read.

Wayne Adams

Enfield

A Cartoon Is Just a Cartoon

To the Editor:

Regarding the Glenn McCoy July 9 medical dependence cartoon: Folks are just being way too politically correct or over-sensitive. Look more closely: Some down and out fat slob, dressed in drag, is begging to ensure that his Viagra remains publicly funded.

His unlit, drooping, mini cigar is the giveaway.

John Galton

North Hartland

Decision Making In Norwich

To the Editor:

You published a letter from a Norwich citizen on July 14 who is in favor of “a pool, not a police station.” The writer expressed the opinion that the Norwich Town Manager, Neil Fulton, was making a priority of unnecessary new facilities over restoring the town’s pool to its former function.

It’s important for the public to understand that each initiative that the town manager has proposed regarding the future of Norwich’s municipal facilities has been subject to approval by the Norwich Selectboard in its capacity as the town’s legislative body. Otherwise, those steps would not have gone forward. These include formation of a study committee and engaging experts to address the future of town facilities. The Selectboard has been active in considering the options presented both by the study committee and by the town’s consultants. It will be the Selectboard, not the town manager, that finalizes any proposal that goes before the voters.

As to whether Norwich needs an improved police station, I have heard no disagreement from Selectboard members. In addition, a recent town survey showed that only 13 percent of respondents felt that the police station is in moderately to very good shape, whereas 60 percent felt that it was just functional. Of the same respondents, 69 percent felt that the police station should be maintained in moderately to very good shape, whereas 31 percent felt that it should be maintained at the “functional” level.

Regarding the town pool, this has been a top priority of both the town manager and the Selectboard. The town pool was formed by a dam, which washed out during Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. The town manager applied for and received approval for the use of $567,284 in FEMA funding toward replacement of the structure, which funds may not be used for other facilities. With Selectboard approval, he engaged an engineering firm to design a replacement structure compliant with Vermont regulations. The delay in implementation rests not with Norwich, but with the reluctance of Vermont’s Department of Fish and Wildlife to allow even a replacement dam. After a concerted effort to receive actionable objections from that agency through March 2013 and beyond, the town manager and the town’s consulting engineers are preparing a response to the agency’s specific objections, received in June 2014.

Stephen Flanders

Member of the Norwich Selectboard

Co-op Facts and Feelings

To the Editor:

With Co-op Board President Margaret Drye’s Forum letter’s (“Co-op Acted in Accord With Policies,” July 13) statement that the board intends to “make sure that the employment practices do not simply follow New Hampshire labor law, but also reflect the spirit of our cooperative,” those letter writers who have been critical of the Co-op can take heart. It is clear that it is not enough for the Co-op to act within the law, but also must act within the set of ethical beliefs it espouses.

From reading all the correspondence on the issue, I believe that is what has been asked for all along, sometimes with opinions stated in a way that were taken with umbrage by management and the board. Those statements and the reaction from those at the top of the Co-op, both showing unhappiness with the other side, can be well understood. Some complainers upset with the action of the managers saw the situation from their point of view, just as well as General Manager Terry Appleby and Drye felt unfairly attacked from their point of view. We all see the world from our own point of view, but that doesn’t mean that what we say is fact is indeed fact.

It is fair, I’d say, to see that not just a few of those disappointed with the handling of King and Boutin were trying to be constructive, as that last paragraph from Drye acknowledged. I would have hoped that Appleby would have been able to see that and not just see that people were distorting the facts, when the only facts I saw mentioned anywhere were that the two men were fired, not given an explanation for that action, and were escorted directly from the premises. What I got from columnist Jim Kenyon was the deduction on his part for why they were fired, presented in his own inimical way, not as a fact. Not a completely absurd deduction given the nature of how the firing was handled, but that doesn’t make it a fact. I also wonder why Appleby did not acknowledge that the immediate reaction of letters in the Forum were letters of support for the Co-op. One sees both sides here taking what the other side is saying to its extreme, out of their common feelings of the injustice of what the others were saying or doing. I’d say the same about the opening of Drye’s letter that ended on such a positive note, when she characterized what others said as “misinformation” and seems to criticize the Valley News for printing what people were saying.

Louis A. Kislik

Hanover

Leadership at the Co-op

To the Editor:

Many of the nearly 21,000 active members of the Co-op Food Stores couldn’t tell you who Terry Appleby is. That’s because Terry — who’s been has been the Co-op’s general manager for 23 years — does his job quietly. But, we think, very well. His competence shows. On his watch, the Co-op’s annual sales have grown to $75 million. The Lebanon store was built, the Lyme Road store was rebuilt, and the White River store was purchased. The Co-op now employs over 400 people. My wife Dana and I have been Co-op members for over 40 years. In the 1980s, I served on the Co-op board for 10 years and as president for two years. Back then, the Co-op had only about 3,000 members and under $3 million in annual sales.

We’ve always taken a big-picture view of the Co-op. We haven’t agreed with every decision of the board. Sometimes the Co-op headed in a direction other than the one we voted for. But the enterprise seemed to us to remain at its core community-minded, efficient and cooperative.

There’s probably an aphorism, something like “It only takes a small stick to stir a big pot.” An employment issue involving two of the Co-op’s over 400 employees has been raised in the newspaper. A columnist’s statements and conjectures have been accepted as facts, rather than being submitted to balanced scrutiny. Personnel issues are especially difficult for an employer to deal with in a public forum, so the Co-op hasn’t been able to respond. Co-op members should remember the Co-op is a truly local enterprise. It has competed successfully, in a fiercely competitive field, with behemoths like Belgium-based Hannaford and Idaho-based Shaw’s. We suggest that members judge the Co-op by what it has become, and continues to be, under Appleby’s thoughtful leadership.

Dan Grossman

Thetford

Jews Stood for Justice

To the Editor:

To be Jewish when I was a kid was to be just. To be a Jew was to identify with all those who were oppressed. We marched on picket lines in support of unions. We knocked on doors to elect progressive candidates. We stood with black people in their struggles. We hated war. We fought imperialism. We stood for humanity.

I am therefore appalled by Israel and its polices toward its Arab majority. It has ghettoized the Palestinians. It has occupied their land. It has restricted their commerce. It has killed and maimed countless civilian resisters and bystanders. By its actions, the Israeli government more resembles the traditional oppressors of the Jews than the culture of the Jewish community I grew up in and am proud still to count myself part of.

Robert Belenky

Hanover