Forum, Dec. 12: Use of Body Cameras; Thanks, Lebanon Police; Gift Touches Heart Strings

Friday, December 12, 2014
Allow the Use of Body Cameras

To the Editor:

The massive public reaction to the tragic deaths of black people at the hands of white police officers has led to a national call for use of body cameras to record and prevent any future mistreatment of suspects.

There is ample precedent. Animal protection activists have used body cameras to document egregious atrocities and safety violations by workers in the meat, dairy and egg industries. The resulting videos have led to a number of corrective actions, as well as felony convictions, meat recalls and even a $500 million civil settlement.

How ironic then that agribusiness interests in seven states (Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and Utah) have now enacted “ag-gag” laws imposing severe penalties for using body cameras in their agricultural facilities. The language is typically drafted by the anti-consumer American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Let’s hope that other vested interests do not impose similar restrictions on the use of body cameras by law enforcement officers.

Warren Wright

White River Junction

Sign Up For Affordable Care

To the Editor:

During the period of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, I encourage everyone still without insurance to sign up. Those in New Hampshire who are already enrolled should check whether they can get a better plan this year. Five insurance companies now offer 40 plans that include at least two New Hampshire hospitals in each network.

Folks complain mightily about Obamacare, and clearly there are things that need to be fixed. But we don’t need to “throw out the baby with the bathwater”; there are many positives about this law. Just talk to people who now have protection!

Ask someone who had been without insurance because of a pre-existing condition — or someone whose plan didn’t include conditions that must now be covered. When insurance companies chose to cancel their substandard plans, folks could find other plans, with better coverage or a lower deductible. Talk to one of the 10 million now covered who can afford insurance for the first time, or kids under the age of 26 who can stay on their parents’ plan. Do you know anyone with cancer or other major illness who had hit the lifetime limit? They, who previously faced bankruptcy, can now be insured. Many feared losing access to health care if they switched jobs or got fired — that fear is gone.

So Obamacare helps not just the newly insured, as monumental as that is. It affects millions, and soon, millions more. Please enroll now at www.healthcare.gov.

Anne Rogers


Thanks, Lebanon Police

To the Editor:

We would like to thank the Lebanon Police Department for the quick response to aid us in a situation last month. Special thanks to the dispatcher for trying to keep me calm till the police arrived at our residence. We feel the police department does not get enough recognition for what it does. Again, thank you.

Linda and David Pillsbury

Corey Roberts


Gift Touches Heart Strings

To the Editor:

My husband and I wanted to get our 13-year-old niece a guitar for Christmas. This is to be her first guitar. We did not want to spend too much, but we did not want to get a cheap guitar that was going to discourage instead of encourage her to play.

I turned to our local listservs for help. We had quite a few replies, looked at a few, even thought about driving two hours to look at yet another $30 guitar. After thinking about driving that far, we decided we could order a new “cheap” guitar online with free shipping and save on gas. Not what I wanted, but it started looking like the way to go.

On the day I decided to do this, I had gotten an email from a listserv that said, “I may be able to help you, and I promise the price will be right.” I replied with our “specs” and waited. No answer, so I went online, filled in the shopping cart, added a tuner, and hovered over the checkout button. I then decided to check my email one more time. There was the email: “I will sell you one for $10-$20.” We made arrangements to meet that night. My husband and I got there and the guitars were laid out on the table for us to view. We made our choice, and I asked how much for it. He said, free.

He said that his joy is to find guitars, fix them up, then find a young first-time player to present him or her with a guitar that will encourage the gift of music. Not only the guitar, but a case and a beginner’s bag of goodies. With a promise to take a picture when she opens her gift, we said our goodbyes and thanks for this amazing gift and headed home.

My husband and I were quiet on the way home, humbled by this experience and the great joy of the larger gift that was just given to us. Thank you.

Robin Cushman


Solar Becomes More Attractive

To the Editor:

Every year for the past seven, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy, has published a report summarizing the cost of installing solar systems. This year’s recently published report, which covers all systems installed in the U.S. in 2013 plus the first few months of 2014, points out that the median cost of a solar system installed in the U.S. last year was $4.70 per watt.

Since we are in the middle of a “Solarize the Upper Valley” campaign, it is interesting to compare that number with the price offered by participating Solarize installers. In Solarize Pomfret-Woodstock, for example, the current price for a basic roof-mounted system through our installers, Catamount and Integrity, is $3.85 per watt, 18 percent less than last year’s nationwide median. If the campaign is successful in signing up about 36 customers by Jan. 15, the price for all will drop still further to $3.65 per watt, 22 percent less than last year’s median. Those numbers are for systems smaller than 10 kilowatts, which applies to most residential systems.

In addition, Vermont customers signing up by year end will qualify for a state rebate of 25 cents per watt, which runs out Dec. 31, as well as a federal income tax rebate of 30 percent of the installed system cost, good through 2016. With those rebates applied, a typical residential system in Pomfret and Woodstock will save about 10 percent of the installed system cost every year in reduced electric bills.

Those interested in the Solarize campaign should visit the Vital Communities website; those looking for more information about the nationwide cost survey should look for “Tracking the Sun VII” from the Berkeley National Laboratory.

Norwood Long

For Sustainable Woodstock