In Defense of Donoghue
The suggestion by your new columnist Mark Johnson that the Vermont Press Association find a new part-time executive director has been overwhelmingly rejected [Fair Game, July 28].
The VPA Executive Board agreed to stick with its well-respected chosen leader, Mike Donoghue. Everybody knows Donoghue has done more for press freedom; public transparency; and teaching and mentoring past, current and future journalists than anybody else in Vermont — much of it in his free time.
Johnson’s column had both basic errors and omissions. Perhaps the biggest problem was Johnson offering his opinion without having facts or understanding the basic story. It is sad Johnson never called the VPA board before making his mistakes.
Our original letter to the editor outlined some of Johnson’s errors, but it was sent back and we were told to cut it to 250 words. We won’t try, because that won’t scratch the surface.
But in the very first sentence, Johnson falsely claimed the New England First Amendment Coalition is a press group. It’s a First Amendment advocacy group. (And Johnson was warned not to make that mistake.)
And Johnson never reported that NEFAC still asked Donoghue to continue to serve on its state committee. Guess NEFAC still sees his value.
Donoghue enjoys solid backing from newspaper people not only in Vermont but in New England and elsewhere. Television, radio and online people have reached out with appreciation. News makers and news consumers also agreed Johnson’s work was a poor hatchet job.
We hope he can do better for readers.
Loomis is the president of the Vermont Press Association and the editor and co-owner of the Valley Reporter in Waitsfield.
Editor’s note: Seven Days has a 250-word limit on letters to the editor.
The Money Mattered
Your article “Tech Company CEO Says $6 Million State Grant a ‘Secondary Priority'” [Off Message, August 23] leaves readers with the mistaken impression that the state incentive grant was not necessary. While it is true that I had already made the decision to come to Vermont because it holds a special place for me, the 17,000-square-foot, 250-person office and retreat center in Waterbury would not have happened without the incentive. Our initial thought was to have a couple people in an office in Montpelier to help service existing contracts.
The decision to establish any office is a big one. It is a commitment to our employees — our family — to provide for and support them. Vermont is tough: small workforce to draw from, complicated access to customers, small airport, housing challenges. Despite that, I have a deep desire to build community and provide jobs in the state. In this competitive market, the Vermont incentive program changed our thinking. Yes, we wanted to be in Vermont, but now we could do something more — rather than have two people in Vermont, we could think bigger: a place to bring new hires, to build our culture, to serve not just Vermont but also the region.
We will have an office in Rhode Island and an office in Vermont. Having a presence in Vermont was my dream. Having a 250-person office and retreat center in Waterbury is only possible because of the economic growth incentive.
Nobel is CEO and cofounder MTX Group.
[Re Soundbites: “Clubs Begin Requiring Proof of Vaccination to Enter,” August 18]: Article 27 of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts, and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits … in case you were wondering which side of history you were on.
The Truth About Logging
I started reading Kevin McCallum’s “Clear-Cut?” [August 18] and braced for a healthy dose of the typical misinformation disseminated by folks passionate about saving trees but lacking scientific understanding of how forest ecosystems work with respect to carbon sequestration. Foresters — but more importantly, forests — play the long game.
McCallum captured that concept well, despite being bombarded with shortsighted, emotion-based reactions to an area being managed to encourage early successional wildlife habitat. He got it that carbon sequestration is more robust in a young, vigorously growing stand. He recognized that so-called “old growth” will stagnate and actually release more carbon than it sequesters as it deteriorates. And, thanks in part to Ed Larson, he pointed out that an enormous percentage of removed trees continue to sequester their carbon as they are incorporated into durable goods, while the site from which they came is busy sequestering new carbon.
Once again, Seven Days does not disappoint on the balanced reporting front. Thanks.
Trees V. Wood Products
[Re “Clear-Cut?” August 18]: Great article about the Green Mountain National Forest Telephone Gap field trip I attended! I am responding to the idea that wood products are good carbon sinks. Wood products are certainly needed and desired, but they do not store carbon as well as the standing trees from which they were made! How much of the carbon in a tree is actually stored in a wood product? Some 50 percent of a harvested tree does not end up in a product but rather is burned or slowly decomposes.
Unfortunately, in this day of demolition, remodeling and replacement, furniture and buildings generally do not have the life span of a tree, which is 100 to 200-plus years. And let’s account for the carbon released in extraction, transportation and production processes, as well as the carbon released from soil disturbed by logging. The use of synthetic adhesives to make laminated wood materials used in construction involves additional energy usage.
Fast-growing early successional species that come in after a clear-cut, a “patch” cut or many “shelterwood cuts” do not store anywhere near the carbon stored in a mature (for logging) forest. We need carbon stored now, and old forests do it far better than wood products. In this time of climate crisis, public forests are needed for carbon storage. And let’s not forget how water quality and species diversity are enhanced by old forests.
It was refreshing to read good letters about moose, tickets and the AR-15 [Feedback, August 18]! And Paula Routly’s response — perfect [From the Publisher, “Sounding Off,” August 18]. Boosters, bears and table scraps; algae blooms, raw sewage and closed beaches; F-35s, Black Lives Matter and gender fluidity with a side of pronouns!
To save the moose, you have to kill it. To save the village, you need to burn it. A Vietnam mentality — there’s been a lot of that recently.
Thank you, Seven Days and the readership, for some well-informed opinions.
More ‘Civilized Discourse’
Sadly, we are all becoming a society of extremes [From the Publisher: “Sounding Off,” August 18]. That, combined with the anonymity of comments — less so now for Seven Days — ensures us a never-ending quantity of aggressive opinions that are at the edges of civilized discourse. It seems that disagreement with another’s opinion is reason enough to question their sanity, sexuality or morality.
I thank your publication for braving these hyped-up opinions.
[Re Fair Game, “Rx for Injustice,” July 21]: I read with interest the recent article in Seven Days about the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma. Nowhere do I see reference to physicians who have accepted “perks” — that is, trips to golf resorts and other venues paid for by Purdue Pharma.
Certainly, these physicians have contributed to the opioid crisis in the United States. After all, they are the people who prescribe the drugs. I believe that the physicians who accept the gratuities from the pharma companies and then prescribe their suggested drugs are as responsible for the opioid crisis as the manufacturer of the drugs.
Joan Shellito, RN
All About ‘Affordability’
[Re “Tax Burdened,” August 18]: It’s interesting how residential valuations are based on data based on recent property sales while, on the other hand, commercial properties in Burlington are assessed on recent cash flow of the business. One is based on ability to pay and the other on what others have sold their properties for in the recent past. This is clearly a double standard.
If one has no intention of selling their home, why isn’t their ability to pay considered, too? While the State of Vermont does offer a rebate program based on income, the methodology seems skewed. The tax burden challenge does not adequately consider the ability of Vermonters to hold on to their properties because, too often, incomes are not rising sufficiently to keep pace with taxes.
While not a new challenge, affordability is no longer a question that only new prospective residents need to consider when evaluating a move to Vermont. It’s a very real issue for Vermonters who’ve called our state home for a lifetime.
Mark Johnson’s Fair Game column “The Deluge Problem” [August 18] tells us that “the increasingly intense rainstorms associated with climate change” and “predicted due to the climate crisis” will slow the state’s 20-year effort to reach phosphorus targets and improve Lake Champlain’s health. It’s rational to believe that more heavy rainstorms would wash more soil and chemicals into the lake.
But Johnson doesn’t give us the data to support the narrative that climate change “deluges” are defeating our phosphorus remediation efforts. There’s a hard-to-read graph of the data in Figure 45 of the 2021 State of the Lake report Johnson cites.
Assuming “downpour” means more than one inch of precipitation in a day in Burlington, one would expect to see those days become more numerous with the steady advance of “climate change.” Tropospheric CO2 concentration has been rising steadily since 1958, while precipitation in Burlington has risen (erratically) from 30 inches in 1940 to 38 inches in 2018.
One would expect that, with eight more inches of annual precipitation, there would be more days with more than an inch coming down. But that number begins with four days in 1940, rises to 13 in 2013 — then drops to 10 in 2014, to seven in 2015 and 2016, to three in 2017, and back to four in 2018.
If there were 12 downpour days in 1944, why were there only three in 2017? Clearly, other factors are involved, not just the demon of “climate change.”
Most of what emerges in the popular press these days are scary narratives produced to frighten nonscientists into accepting expensive nonsolutions.
‘Run, Gene, Run’
[Re Off Message: “Embattled Airport Director Richards Asked to Resign — and Refuses,” August 27]: Based on the recent article about airport director Gene Richards’ refusal to resign at the mayor’s request, I can only offer him the following advice. Run, Gene, run.
Whether you have done a great job or a poor job (actually, it is probably some of each) isn’t important at this point. If the mayor, your boss, no longer wants you, it is time to go.
If that is not enough, look at how he is treating you. He asked you to resign before allowing you to see the report, which you had never seen before and which he was going to make public before you were given the opportunity to see it. If that is not bullying and blackmail, what is? He doesn’t care about you. It is all about the optics — and him.
Even if the allegations against you aren’t true, do you really want to work for this guy?
Goodkind is the former director of Burlington’s Department of Public Works.
I was very pleased to read Paula Routly’s comments about how working in the restaurant business is good preparation for life [From the Publisher: “Tall Order,” August 25]. It’s about time somebody wrote something positive about the experience of working in restaurants. What they lack in pay, they make up for with flexible schedules and easy entry for untrained people who want to learn.
I took a dishwashing job in Florida in 1967. When one of the cooks quit, I moved up to “charbroiler man.” In 1971, I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. I am proof that you can make a good life for yourself in the restaurant business.
As Routly stated, it is a good place to learn how to be a productive part of a team — and to realize that the harder you work, the more money you can make. Also, the sense of family and camaraderie can be quite powerful when a good group of people is working together.
My highest priority as a restaurant owner was the satisfaction of the guest. Second was the health and well-being of the staff as a group. And my third priority was the employees as individuals. I saw the business as a ship we were all in, and if I didn’t do a good job protecting the ship, we would all be in peril.
I had a reasonable amount of success in my career, and I owe most of it to so many of the good people who worked with me all those years. My predominant feeling is one of gratitude.
Fuller is the former owner of Vermont restaurants Leunig’s Bistro & Café, Pauline’s Café, the Bobcat Café & Brewery, Gillian’s and Cubbers.