What I’m looking for
in a president

Editor of the Reformer:

A recent letter writer surprised me on a couple of levels ("America needs a woman president," June 14-15). First, saying "America needs a woman president," is, to me, akin to saying "America needs a black president," or a white, Asian, Catholic, Muslim, gay or Lithuanian president. Whatever the rationale, we don’t need any of those -- and I don’t care what Madeleine Kunin has to say about it. We need strong, intelligent, ethical, empathetic -- feel free to toss your preferred adjectives here -- presidents, whatever their flavor, shade, height, sex or hairstyle. Although I might have issues with an exaggerated comb over.

Second, your lack of fealty disturbs me. And I can’t imagine how Hillary feels, the poor thing. You begin your letter waving exuberantly and tossing beads from her bandwagon ("I would like to see Hillary Rodham Clinton President of the United States. I would vote for her") and, a scant seven paragraphs later, you’re scrabbling up Elizabeth Warren’s drainpipe, tossing pebbles at her window and declaring your undying love ("America needs a woman president ... Elizabeth Warren is my pick."). How is a female presidential candidate expected to know where she stands with this letter writer? Men. You’re all alike.

M. A.


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Hudson,

Putney, June 16

A new future
for Santa’s Land?

Editor of the Reformer:

The events at Santa’s Land have saddened and upset many people, me included. Many years ago, when Frank Blake was the care giver to the animals at Santa’s Land, I went there and filmed him playing flute to the deer herd while they listened and approached (that piece is now on YouTube). With Frank in charge, those animals never lacked for tenderness and care. He helped get the entire deer herd vaccinated. Today Frank is in the process of being evicted from a tiny patch of property along the east bank of the West River south of the green bridge in Dummerston along with his animals, including an emu that once lived at Santa’s Land. Should he return to care for the animals at Santa’s? I believe he is willing.

I hear that a number of local citizens, including my friend Elo Mai, are stepping up to the plate on behalf of these animals. I write because I see at least a couple of conflicting statements between the letter sent by the Windham Humane Society, and the Facebook page set up named; "NeglectatSantasLand." The latter states that the veterinarian says that the animals should not be moved and a commenter on Facebook says the court documents indicate that the veterinarian states they should be moved. I understand that local farms have already offered to rehouse most of the animals. The WCHS letter says that it "is very difficult and stressful to move many of these types of animals," but I must point out the obvious; while this may be so for 18 remaining deer and three peacocks, certainly the nine goats, three ponies and three donkeys and one elder llama, are moveable.

The letter from WCHS requests that citizens have patience with the court process, and that care is being provided, yet there have been observations of empty water bowls, and other signs of neglect persisting. Remember how patience misplaced becomes harmful neglect. Another interesting issue is the fact that one particular searcher has been unable to find the public record of last year’s sale of Santa’s Land or it’s purchase cost at Putney Town Hall. This should be public record.

Finally, there is a better plan afoot I hear. That is to reform Santa’s Land into Santa’s Animal Sanctuary; a place to visit where cutting edge animal-human healing and communication may flourish. Maybe Santa’s Animal Sanctuary will or will not come to pass, it truly depends on the current owner and her wishes. I implore her at the very least, to send the moveable animals to the homes that have been found. 

Emily Peyton,

Putney, June 15

Concerns over
open meeting law

Editor of the Reformer:

After having read the changes to the open meeting law, I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with Governor Shumlin in his assessment of the new Open Meeting Law bill. I have read the Summary of Changes to Vermont’s Open meeting Law, and also have some serious concerns. Mainly, that within the legislative conversation, no one bothered to build oversight or teeth into the law to protect the public from those who would abuse their power to restrict or obscure transparency.

Straw polls, consensus, agreements made on secret outside of meetings, etc., all represent collusion of elected and appointed officials to thwart the democratic process and force actions without sufficient open, meaningful dialogue in public light, allowing citizens to understand the reasoning behind that decision.

I know how it is played, I have witnessed it time and time again: You’re an official, you need an action, you want to make sure it goes your way. So you call another board member and when they are leaning in your favor, you tell them to call another and get that straight. Then you do the same, and so on. Now, you do not need worry if your plan will hold water. You can go to the table with a quorum in your favor, no worries. No discussion necessary. Your desired outcome achieved.

What is the public’s view of these proceedings? What do I see? An agenda item on the table, a motion made and seconded. None or little discussion by the board. All in favor? Opposed? You get the picture. This is what the public must deal with and no one in Montpelier is here to help, not even the open meeting law. Objections to violations are lost to the wind.

File a civil complaint in court? Yes, per statute you have the right and the means; the minutes, the electronic recordings, witnessing the proceedings. But what does it amount to; your time, your money, your frustration as you await a response to your pleadings? You may be correct, justice may be on your side. Your time back? Never. Your money? Maybe. Probably not. If you have not laid out every viewed violation to the open meeting law in perfect detail with supporting documentation, then it was all for naught.

Why does our Legislature create laws it is not ready, willing and able to enforce? Why must the burden of proof for violations of open meeting law fall to the observer? We the people must police ourselves in the world of open meeting law, and although man is created equal, what we do with that equality, is not.

Light. Justice. Transparency. Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.

Deborah Wright,

Bellows Falls, June 10

All about the cutlines ...

Editor of the Reformer:

Is it too difficult for the Reformer to identify the people in its print photographs? That proud high school graduate on the front page? The power-hitting member of the softball team on the sports page? The award recipients smiling for the camera but nameless each and all? Other newspapers do their homework. The Reformer used to do it but no longer, evidently. Me thinks the local newspaper cuts too many corners too sharp.

Paul Campus,

Putney, June 16