Brattleboro’s ‘run-away spending habit’

Editor of the Reformer:

In spite of numerous concerns, appeals and suggestions by various representatives for reducing the financial burden to the home-owning taxpayers, the Brattleboro Representative Town Meeting did pass the $16 million municipal budget submitted by the Selectboard. With so many expressing concern that Brattleboro cannot afford that budget in addition to $15 million-plus for the school budget, I had hoped Reps would act wisely with their legal authority and responsibility to reject the budget, return it to the Selectboard for a more responsible and viable solution to the challenges we now face. Why not do the right thing and demand the same from the Selectboard? The revision process can certainly happen before July 1, 2014, the date the new budget will take effect, although it would entail another meeting of the Reps. Why would intelligent, compassionate, courageous people jeopardize the future well-being and viability of Brattleboro? Were they unwilling to commit the time for another meeting?

My answer came the very next day from a presentation on "The Roots of Poverty": most Americans, 92 percent, believe we all have more money than we actually do, imagining the "middle class" to be more than twice as wealthy as it actually is.

The truth is the wealth distribution in the U.S. is as follows:

-- the top 1 percent of the population has 40 percent of all wealth in the U.S.;

-- the next 19 percent below that share 53 percent of all wealth (meaning, the top 20 percent have 93 percent of the wealth);

-- the rest of the population, 80 percent, shares 7 percent of wealth (this group includes what used to be known as the "middle class").

These facts show the current system to be egregiously oppressive, morally and ethically offensive and in need of change, while at the same time explaining why 9 out of 10 representatives as well as the Selectboard, interim town manager, town attorney, and others have not taken seriously the pleas of people who know Brattleboro cannot afford the current run-away spending habit. Their choices have been made from a skewed perception of reality. These good people with good intentions made mistakes because they thought they knew, but they did not: they did not understand the real truth. With the truth in mind and heart, remedies can now be found.

Lynn Russell,

Representative District 1

Brattleboro, March 28

Think about
the real cost

Editor of the Reformer:

I have owned conservation zoned land in Halifax for 12 years with the hope of retiring to this peaceful woodland. I acquired this property which is surrounded by conservation land for the unspoiled peace and quiet that one would expect to find in a conservation district.

To have a quarry operation on abutting conservation zoned property within earshot, running incessantly, will preclude my relocating to the land I own. The idea that the quarry is "artisanal" is completely inaccurate. The developer has already admitted that he will use many hundreds of horsepower worth of diesel equipment including pneumatic drills requiring large compressors, excavators, loaders, trucks, etc. A truly artisnal operation would require a sledge hammer, a hand held rock drill and some wedges. If the developer wants to pursue the quarry in this artisnal way, I doubt the residents of Halifax would have a problem with the operation.

As it stands, the operation would be a full-scale industrial development on conservation land. What Vermont has had, and still has, is a heritage of protecting undeveloped land. This project is a great example of a deveIoper "parking" land in the current use program to avoid taxes, then maximizing profit by pulling out minimum acreage for an industrial project and letting the local taxpayers shoulder the huge burden of road maintenance due to the heavy trucks used among many other costs. The town will realize just about no income from the project but will see enormous costs, both economic and aesthetic in nature.

Peter Silverberg,

Southbridge, Mass., March 31

Protecting the right to vote

Editor of the Reformer:

The League of Women Voters of Southeast Vermont commends the introduction of bipartisan legislation, the Voter Registration Amendment Act, by Representatives James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., John Conyers. D-Mich., Bobby Scott, D-Va., and John Lewis, D-Ga., offering common sense fixes designed to modernize the Voting Rights Act.

This bipartisan legislation was carefully crafted to protect the rights of all voters from discrimination and repair the damage to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 inflicted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder. The Sensenbrenner bill seeks to better protect all voters against discrimination at the ballot box and ensure Americans are guaranteed their right to vote. The League urges Congress to pass the bill swiftly.

The bipartisan introduction of common sense protections for voting rights is an important step. We need modern, common sense fixes to protect everyone’s right to vote and make sure that our elections are free, fair and accessible for every American.

Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the VRA that was essential to protecting voters in states, counties, and cities that had a history of discrimination. Since the Supreme Court’s decision, dozens of cities and towns have changed voting procedures.

The VRA has a history of bipartisan support. Passing these modern fixes to the law is not about who wins or loses elections or the political advantage of one party or another. It’s about all of us coming together to affirm that everyone should have an equal right to vote.

Judy Myrick and Frankie Knibb,

co-chairs, Southeast Vermont League of Women Voters Unit, March 31

Safe to eat?

Editor of the Reformer:

I couldn’t help but laugh at this sentence in the article "Vermont reports first case of swine virus" (March 26): "Remains completely safe to eat?"

The key words are remains and safe. No animals are safe to eat to begin with, for humans anyway. All you people need to wake up to what is killing you and making everyone fat and sick. It is the meat and dairy consumption that is responsible for 99 percent or our ailments, all our ailments, including heart disease, cancer and everything else in between. You really need to educate yourselves, for the children’s sake.

I know 99 percent of adults will not change their eating habits, but we must educate our children and make them aware of what is real and what is lies for profit. Anyone that wants to get together and get something going to educate the community about the benefits of a vegan (or even better, raw) diet, e-mail me at goraw4u@yahoo.com. We need to get the message out to the children. We were all brainwashed. They don’t have to be.

Derek Doucette,

Dummerston, April 1