Valley News Forum for March 1, 2023: Transitions take time; Clean Heat Standard will too

Published: 03-01-2023 5:05 AM

Transitions take time; Clean Heat Standard will too

The Clean Heat Standard is being touted as the most important piece of climate legislation at the Vermont Statehouse this year. It would transform the way Vermonters heat their homes and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. There are, however, significant unanswered questions about the Clean Heat Standard that must be addressed.

In rushing to enact a Clean Heat Standard, an approach that is largely untested, the Legislature seems to be ignoring that transitions take time, require planning, and cost money.

They should not expect the public to accept, let alone state officials to successfully implement, the Clean Heat Standard without sufficient financial backing and a sound blueprint developed with meaningful public engagement.

Much-needed work has not been done to address the impact on Vermont’s fuel suppliers and their customers, the workforce needed to weatherize tens of thousands of homes and install great numbers of heat pumps, and how funding will be directed to ensure the program is affordable for Vermonters, not only in years to come but, perhaps more importantly, in the near term.

When many Vermonters are unable to afford child care or septic repairs, are struggling to find affordable housing, and are recovering COVID-era challenges, we cannot expect Vermont to move away from fossil fuels without adequate incentives, a realistic schedule and a simple approach.

We can, with adequate time and thoughtful planning, find a solution we can afford. Absent this the Clean Heat Standard will fail — in more ways than one.

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Secretary Julie Moore

Vermont Agency
of Natural Resources

Support NH child care bill

For those who care about families, children, and New Hampshire businesses, please support The Child Care for NH Working Families Act (SB 237) currently pending before the New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee. This bill seeks to strengthen New Hampshire’s child care system by increasing and expanding scholarships, making annual grants to child care employers for the purpose of increasing staff retention and recruitment, and improving the quality of child caregiving services. The overall goal of this bill is to support state infrastructure to increase the capacity of the state to effectively implement and manage child care scholarships, workforce support grants, and ensure that parents have true choice in accessing high quality, affordable child care.

As an active volunteer with Save the Children Action Network, I am aware that there is a critical need for this bill. New Hampshire’s child care services did not benefit from the time of COVID and today, due to decreased staffing and increased need, the child care system is strained beyond its capacity to adequately serve the children and families who have child care needs. Passing SB 237 is an important step in improving child care services in New Hampshire. Please be in touch with your legislator to urge support for this proposal.

Margaret A. Campbell

West Lebanon

Stand up against anti-transgender bills in NH

Another wave of harmful bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community and specifically transgender individuals is hitting state legislatures across the United States this year, and New Hampshire’s is no exception.

This March, the New Hampshire House of Representatives will consider bills like HB 417, which would define gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors as “child abuse” under state law and criminalize loving parents who help their transgender children access this important care. Another bill, HB 619, would outlaw gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, ban teaching about gender identity in public schools, and weaken New Hampshire’s ban on the widely condemned practice of conversion therapy.

If passed, both bills would effectively prohibit transgender minors from accessing medications like hormone blockers that are critical tools for protecting their physical and mental health. As such, these bills pose an active threat to the health and well-being of New Hampshire’s transgender youths.

New Hampshire is better than this. Not long ago in 2018, the Republican-controlled state legislature passed bipartisan nondiscrimination protections for transgender Granite Staters. Sadly, the past few years have seen some legislators file increasingly extreme anti-transgender legislation at the Statehouse; HB 417 and HB 619 are just the latest. Too many of our representatives have been misled by fear-mongering rhetoric that falsely (and hatefully) portrays the transgender community as dangerous. It falls to us, the public, to return our lawmakers to reality by dispelling these unfounded notions and showing them that transgender people just want to live freely as themselves, be treated with dignity, and obtain the health care they need without the threat of violence to their livelihoods.

HB 417 and HB 619 will receive public hearings in Concord on Tuesday, March 7, along with two other bills — HB 10 and SB 272 — containing provisions that would harm LGBTQ+ students in New Hampshire’s schools. Consider coming to testify against these bills if you can, or email statements of opposition to the committees handling these bills. I also urge New Hampshire residents to contact their state lawmakers and demand that they strike down HB 417, HB 619, and all other anti-transgender legislation.

Hayden Smith


Vote Wells for Selectboard seat

Please vote for Sadie Wells for Selectboard in the town of Canaan on March 14. Sadie has served our town for the last 10 years on the budget committee. As a member and as chairman. As a selectman I have had the privilege of working with her for all of those ten years. She is smart and very knowledgeable of the town’s finances. I have also watched her rise through the ranks in her banking career. Sadie loves the town of Canaan and will only do what’s best for all.

In my 15 years as Selectman I was often told, “I don’t always agree with you but I trust you will do what’s best for Canaan.” Now I trust Sadie Wells to do what’s best for Canaan. Please join me in supporting her on March 14.

Scott Borthwick


Scott Borthwick currently sits on the Canaan Selectboard and plans to step down. Sadie Wells is running for his seat.

Reelect Murphy in Royalton

I am one of the five members of the Royalton Selectboard and I support the reelection of Tim Murphy to the Selectboard. Tim is widely engaged in our community and easily accessible if you have questions about the town. Tim constantly thinks about the town and the variety of issues before us. He asks questions and reaches out to get a consensus of what people see as important. Most importantly, he listens and carefully thinks things through. I may not always agree with him, but I understand his thought process, and this is valuable when working on a selectboard as a team to better our town.

Tim’s knowledge of construction and his working relationship with our road crew and our police force is vitally important. With the sidewalk project to make the businesses in South Royalton accessible to people with disabilities, the repair and maintenance of the iron bridge in Royalton village, the upgrades to the Royalton Academy building and the roads in town, Tim’s background and knowledge is critical to the success of these projects.

It is my hope that voters will join me in reelecting Tim Murphy to the Royalton Selectboard.

John P. Dumville

South Royalton

2 candidates for Hartford board

My husband and I just came home after attending a town budget / school budget / candidates night at Hartford High School.

Tim is usually asleep by 8 or 9 p.m., but neither of us had any problem staying awake and alert through the presentations, even the line-by-line numbers and the many detailed questions and explanations that followed.

We were there in particular because we believe that local politics is important, and because there are two contested Selectboard seats this year. It’s been difficult to get information about this particular election — but after the meeting we’re confident in our choices.

We’ll be voting for Janelle Sahutski (running against incumbent Lannie Collins), and for Mike Hoyt, incumbent (running against Patrick Francis Danaher).

Janelle Sahutski and Mike Hoyt both come across as smart, hard-working, ethical, and considerate people with the proven ability to work collaboratively with others.

Please vote! Every vote counts!

Sara (and Tim) Ferguson


Mid Vermont Christian’s religious claim harmful

The Valley News carried a story in Saturday’s edition (“MVCS girls basketball forfeits playoff game rather than compete against team with transgender player”) that quoted the head of school for Mid Vermont Christian School as saying in a previous letter to the state Agency of Education, “as a religious organization” the school has a “statutory and constitutional right to make decisions based on its religious beliefs including ... associating with others.”

The stated practice of choosing whom to associate with, based on your Christian religious beliefs, is reminiscent of my elementary and secondary school years; spent, in their entirety, attending private Christian schools similar to MVCS. I too was encouraged to not associate with certain “others.” These others included anyone who didn’t think, act or look exactly like the Christian adults in my life, even including other Christians with slightly different theological understandings. This sentiment of exclusivity was harmful and caused a great deal of dissonance for me.

On the one hand I was taught to follow Jesus’ commandment of “loving your neighbor as yourself.” Then I began noticing many Christians in my life, like the religious leaders in the parable of the good Samaritan, refusing to bestow mercy and compassion on the very people Jesus identified as my neighbor. This hypocritical inconsistency led directly to feelings of insecurity, and loss of confidence and faith in myself, my religion and the adults in my life.

I have spent a lifetime recovering from the self-righteous smugness of this “do not associate” stance. I wince every time I see impressionable young people being encouraged to follow the path of the artificially pious “priests and the Levites” in Jesus’ story, rather than that of the open-hearted and hospitable good Samaritan.

Lorraine J. Harriman


MVCS head threw in the towel

This is my response to Saturday’s front page article re: the decision of Vicky Fogg, head of the Mid Vermont Christian School, to withdraw her girls basketball team from the Vermont Division IV’s 2023 state tournament (“MVCS girls basketball forfeits playoff game rather than compete against team with transgender player”). Ms. Fogg believes it is unfair for her team to compete against a school team which has a transgender student playing.

First of all, basketball is a team sport. Just because a student is transgender, it does not necessarily follow that said student is an outstanding player. Basketball tournaments are won (and lost) by how well the team works together.

Second, when considering the “uneven playing field” excuse, by this time in the season, the playing field for many of the teams has gotten uneven. Or, “anything can happen in high school sports.” There are many possible reasons why a team could be short some of its players as it goes into a tournament: a fractured wrist, a funeral out of state, a COVID quarantine, or a low academic grade, just to name a few. In most cases, whatever happens, the team keeps on playing!

It seems to me that Vicky Fogg’s approach to this tournament is the opposite of what we as adults are trying to teach our students. If you think the playing field looks pretty muddy today, you don’t just give up, pick up your marbles and go home. You stay in the game and play your best, even when you are seeded No. 12.

Judith L. Howland


MVCS a worthy example of fearless leadership

Regarding Valley News’ mostly accurate and balanced account of MVCS’ forfeiting its playoff game (“MVCS girls basketball forfeits playoff game rather than compete against team with transgender player”):

I would like to know how a girls team or league or sport can in fact be considered “girls” if it permits even a single male to participate. Calling it anything other than mixed-sex absolutely defies credulity.

Beside the obvious rejection of the notion of males’ participating in female athletics on the basis of safety and fairness, there is a camaraderie that develops among girls and women when competing without the male presence. As a former public school teacher myself, I witnessed the personal growth and fierce team spirit that female-only athletics promotes. Allowing males into the locker rooms, and onto the field of play is an unconscionable attack on the development of girls’ and women’s sense of belonging in their own culture.

An individual’s self-proclaimed “gender identity,” however deeply felt, does not reverse the biological fact of her or his sex. Nor does any amount of medical intervention.

Let boys compete among the boys, let the girls continue to have their own spaces and sports, and let mixed-sex activities be honestly called mixed-sex. There must be time and space for all three.

I commend MVCS’ administration for defending the integrity of girls’ athletics, especially in the political context of this state, and the present time. I hope that they are seen elsewhere as a worthy example of fearless leadership.

Courage calls to courage.

Bill Oetjen


Russia war vs. Ukraine, providing lessons for U.S.?

I read that terrifying headline, in the “World & Nation” section of the Feb. 17 Valley News (“War providing lessons for US,” Page B3). A Kathleen Hicks, speaking for the U.S. Defense Department. is quoted as saying, Ukraine “was more of a cold-start approach than the planned approach we have been working on for Taiwan.”

Really? The Biden administration has been preparing for war with both nuclear powers Russia and China? How did we get to this point?

We got here when the “Basement Candidate” became president, when voters couldn’t see him walk, or speak, before the election in 2020. Now with the “Treasure Trove” of emails that Elon Musk has released from former Twitter officials, it’s evident that the Justice Department’s “Secret Police” (formerly known as the FBI) approached these officials, in the months before the election, with long lists of Trump supporters, donors and the New York Post, to censor in the days prior to the election. The FBI actually used U.S. taxpayer dollars to pay these officials for their salaries, in exchange for working on specifically censoring this list of political opponents, to their preferred candidate. The media allies of the Democrats claimed the Hunter Biden laptop was “Russian misinformation.” Two years later, they now all claim it’s real.

The end results of their efforts to censor all those they disagree with, got their candidate elected. In two years of the “Basement President” administration we have:

1) Record-high inflation, and a recession, with no end in sight.

2) Record numbers of illegal drugs and immigrants, swarming over our southern border.

3) Record numbers each year of American drug overdoses.

4) Record highs for violent crime, and food and energy prices.

Now we’re on the verge of nuclear war, and a Chinese spy balloon was allowed to fly across the entire girth of our country, unabated. While a major train derailment, causing massive chemical spills in Ohio, an American state, where was the “Basement President” on Presidents Day? He was arranging a photo opportunity, air raid sirens blasting, in Ukraine, (not part of America.) God help the U.S.A., because we have two more years of him!

John Nelson


Evidence in abortion argument is shaky

Unfortunately, Mr. William A. Wittik’s warning of deception in the abortion wars (“Who are the real deceivers on abortion?” Feb. 27) was aimed 180 degrees off-target. Every anti-abortion activist or article or movie that he cited has been discredited years ago. He seems truly sincere in his beliefs, but presenting fact-based evidence for what are largely religious beliefs has always been a slippery slope.

Gretchen Graner