Forum, Aug. 29: Congrats, Candidates; The Takeaway From Ferguson; Pro and Con on Peter Welch

An Independent for the House

To the Editor:

Congratulations to Tim Briglin and Jim Masland on winning the Democratic primary for the house seats representing Norwich, Thetford, Sharon and Strafford. Thanks too to Irv Thomae and Jill Michaels for running vigorous and thoughtful campaigns. Now on to the general election in November.

While the Valley News was correct that what propelled me into the race was Jim Masland’s vote for H833, which would have mandated the creation of large regional school boards with unified budgets, I am not a single-issue candidate. Two other vital issues, beside the forced elimination of local school boards, that are likely to come up before the Legislature are property taxes and health care.

This past legislative session Jim Masland voted for programs that will be funded by local property taxes. This included a tax to help the solvency of teachers’ retirement health benefits. These benefits were agreed upon by the Legislature years ago, but chronically underfunded. I believe we have reached the limits of this source of revenue and will not vote to add any more programs to be paid for by property taxes.

Act 48 required Governor Shumlin to provide details by January on his proposed single-payer health plan. He ignored the deadline and said he would have them by spring. Then he said he would wait till after the election in November. Unlike Democratic Rep. Cynthia Browning who strongly protested this delay, Jim Masland did not push to have the information released before the election. While a supporter of the concept of single-payer, I think it is unconscionable not to put the cost and benefits of a massive overhaul of our health care system before the voters. If elected, I would not approve any new system until after voter review in the 2016 election cycle.

While I’ve been a Democratic activist and Strafford Town Democratic Chairman for over 20 years, there comes a time, as the late Jim Jeffords found, to put what you feel is good for Vermont ahead of party concerns. It is for this reason that I am running for the House as an Independent. I hope that you will consider the issues I raise and my candidacy.

John Freitag

South Strafford

What I Learned From Ferguson

To the Editor:

What I have learned in the past few weeks is that if you choose to commit theft in a liquor store and then run at the responding police, expect to get shot here in America.

Mitchell Ota


Peter Welch Gets My Support

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of the candidacy of Peter Welch as our Vermont representative to Congress.

Years ago, a good friend of mine in Norwich did a law internship in Peter’s office. I had great respect for this woman, so her word as to his expertise, sense of fairness and integrity was easy for me to accept.

So it was no surprise to me to read, many years later, a recent item quoting a young man whose budding career I have followed saying that every politician wants you to believe that he or she is bipartisan, and that the fault lies with his or her opponent. Peter Welch is the real thing.

Examples are his work with Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., to pass legislation to benefit artisan cheese makers; his work with Steve Womack, R-Ark., to allow brewers to give their spent grain to farmers for livestock; and with Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to pass two college affordability amendments.

I don’t know about you, but I have really had it with the partisanship in D.C., and I will be proud to once again support Peter Welch.

Betty Edson


Why Is Welch in Office?

To the Editor:

At this point in American history what would possess someone to elect Peter Welch for another term to the U.S. House of Representatives? Can people seriously be happy with the performance of the Democrats?

The 2,500-page Obamacare bill has been a disaster. We have 92 million Americans not in the job market. A debt in excess of $17 trillion. The scandals have been almost too many to count: Benghazi, Fast and Furious, IRS, NSA, etc. The federal government is increasingly reaching into our lives through its endless agencies such as the EPA. America’s foreign policy is nonexistent, leaving the world with no leadership, resulting in violent strife. Making matters worse, this administration is gutting the military.

Where is Peter Welch’s leadership; why can’t he speak out against this president? Is his political party more important than his nation . . . that is not statesmanship.

It is time to elect someone who will try to move our nation in a direction more in line with the great gift our founders gave us. Mark Donka will be a voice for the American taxpayer, pushing for reforms that will save us money and stop this reckless runaway spending. He will be a voice to secure our borders, which will provide the country with national and economic security.

It is time to send Peter Welch to the unemployment line where too many Americans have ended up due to the policies of the Democrats.

Jonathan Graham

Springfield, Vt.

Shrinking Radioactive Danger

To the Editor:

As reported on Aug. 18, FEMA and the NRC are discussing the proposed reduction of emergency planning at Vermont Yankee.

During decommissioning and afterward, there will always be plans for fires, industrial accidents and events involving radioactive materials.

When the reactor stops operating, radioactive atom-splitting pieces stop being produced. The ones remaining give off a dose of radiation that decreases with time. With the radiation decreasing over time, the potential hazard to the public decreases, so the 10-mile evacuation zone and the 50-mile sheltering zone can be decreased in amounts tied to radiation decrease. In a little more than a year, the 10-mile zone may be shrunk to inside the fence. Then there will no longer be a need for town plans and the money that goes with it.

Howard Shaffer