Be safe,
get spotted

Editor of the Reformer:

This letter is to all residents who walk or bicycle at dusk or after dark in the Brattleboro area. If you are out on the streets at night, the Brattleboro Safe Streets Project reminds you to make sure you are visible to vehicles. Wearing light colored or bright clothing helps, but an even better strategy is to wear a battery powered light or something reflective. Did you know that someone wearing a piece of reflective material the size of your thumb is more visible at night than a person wearing all white?

Since autumn of 2012, the Brattleboro Safe Streets Project has distributed 700 reflective leg/arm bands, through various organizations such as the town manager’s office, the Senior Center, Morningside House, the Drop In Center, housing agencies, veterinarian offices for dog walkers, Putney Road businesses and other venues. Now, in an effort to encourage people to actually wear the reflective bands, the Safe Streets Project is sponsoring a "Get Spotted" campaign. From Feb. 24 through March 7, volunteers will be cruising high traffic areas on Putney Road, Western Avenue and Canal Street for an hour or so after dark, looking to "catch" people wearing reflective gear or a light. Those who are lucky enough to "get spotted" will receive a gift certificate for a hot beverage at The Works, Vermont Country Deli, Cumberland Farms or the Brattleboro Food Coop.

The Brattleboro Safe Streets Project began as an initiative of the Brattleboro Town Manager in response to three pedestrian deaths during the winter of 2011/2012. This group of town officials and concerned community members joined forces with Local Motion, Burlington’s pedestrian and bicycling advocacy organization, in the fall of 2012. With Local Motion’s expertise, a grant from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, and contributions from the Town of Brattleboro, the Vermont Chapter of AARP, the BCBS of Vermont Community Advisory Board and the Vermont Department of Health, the Safe Streets Project works to create a culture of respect among drivers, bikers and walkers and to increase civility and safety on our streets for everyone, through awareness and education activities.

Volunteers, ideas, and donations for the Safe Streets Project are always welcome. To get involved or to learn more, please contact Interim Town Manager, Patrick Moreland at pmoreland@brattleboro.org, Alice Charkes at acharkes@myfairpoint.net or Kathleen White at Kathleen.white@state.vt.us.

And please, be bright at night. You just might "get spotted."

Kathleen White,

Brattleboro, Feb. 20

Another reason to leave meat off your plate

Editor of the Reformer:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is still expanding the list of retailers carrying meat unfit for human consumption to Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and 970 locations in California alone. About 8.7 million pounds were shipped all through 2013 by Rancho Feeding Corporation of Petaluma, Calif.

The recall comes in the wake of USDA’s new "inspection" program that allows the meat industry to increase speed of processing lines and replace federal inspectors with plant employees. According to USDA inspector general, this has resulted in partial failure to remove fecal matter, undigested food, and other contaminants that may contain deadly E. coli and listeria bacteria.

Traditionally, USDA has catered more to the interests and profitability of the meat industry than health and safety of American consumers. Consumer interests come into play only when large numbers of us get sick. Having USDA protect consumers is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

The Obama administration should reallocate responsibility for all food safety to the Food and Drug administration. In the meantime, each of us can assume responsibility for our own safety by switching to the rich variety of soy-based meat products offered by our favorite supermarket.

Kyle Roberts,

Brattleboro, Feb. 18

Galbraith understands campaign reform

Editor of the Reformer:

I would like to thank Windham County Senator Peter Galbraith for his insight, understanding the importance of campaign finance reform in the context of the future of Vermont and American politics. He has done this not only in the bigger political context of all the parties but even within his own Democratic lawmakers. It has been reported that there is some "flaw" in the legislation that passed, over his no vote and which he was opposed to, in an attempt to rein in political spending, and I would hope his partners in the Democrat Party would see the correctness of his proposed amendments and adopt them in any "correction" to law.

Senator Galbraith has also seen that how we finance the proposed universal health care in our state shouldn’t be an afterthought but part of the contemporaneous discussion. Universal healthcare is the right thing to do on every level (business, social, etc.) but understanding how it’s to be funded shouldn’t be an afterthought.

I appreciate his willingness to address important, if not tough issues even when they ruffle the feathers of his own party.

Bob DeSiervo,

Townshend, Feb. 18 Vote for Katz
in Newfane

Editor of the Reformer:

I have been strongly urged to seek a seat on the Newfane Selectboard this year to help assure that the interests of the town as a whole are being represented effectively as the board continues to deal with a wide range of issues that affects us all. That sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Isn’t that what anybody serving the town on the Selectboard should be doing? Of course.

But so often, special interests, with personal agendas, turn out to be the only voices that the Selectboard hears. The rest of us tend not to share our thoughts and concerns and desires with the board until it is taking an action that we think is directly and negatively impacting us. The problem is that a lot can slip by before we realize that this is happening. That’s why it’s important to all of us to be sure we have diligent, fair, and impartial representation on the Selectboard.

In this time of continuing economic distress, countywide economic uncertainty, and post-Irene recovery, the financial stability of our town is important to all of us. Our taxes are increasing every year and while some increases are necessary and in the interest of the town as a whole, others are not. Our future -- our town’s vitality -- depends on our ability to manage and control our finances effectively. We can’t afford to let this slip by.

We certainly need and want our Selectboard to listen to ideas and suggestions from all our citizens. But we also need it to say "thank you, but no" when some of those ideas and suggestions aren’t in the interest of the town as a whole.

You know I’ve served you on the Selectboard before. Together we can work to make sure that the interests of the town as a whole -- looked at honestly, thoughtfully, and in an open manner -- are the guiding principle for the Selectboard as we move into the future. I am asking you to send me to the Selectboard this year so that you will know that there is someone there looking out for your interests, someone who will always fight to assure that the Selectboard is watching out for the town as a whole. With your input I will work as hard as I can to support everything that’s necessary for our town, nothing less and nothing more. Please come out and vote. Thank you.

Gary Katz,

Newfane, Feb. 19