Brattleboro Co-op board member speaks out

Editor of the Reformer:

An open letter to the shareholders of the Brattleboro Food Cooperative and the general community:

Last week I and another individual resigned from the Board of Directors of the Brattleboro Food Cooperative. It was made clear to us that seven of the nine other board members believed that we had violated the board code of conduct and their trust. While we disagreed with the majority of the board, we did not believe we would be able to change their minds.

The immediate issue that led to this rift was a request by some employees to speak with us in confidence, which we honored. We made it clear that we could only listen, that we were present only as individuals, not representing the board, and we listened. We then suggested they bring their issues to the board as a whole. It appears that the majority of the board felt that listening without the board’s prior approval was violation of the board’s "speak-with-one-voice" policy, despite the employees’ request for confidentiality.

If I remained on the board and were approached by an individual or group who wished to share in confidence with me, I would probably make the same decision to listen. Since the majority of the board views this as unacceptable behavior, I found it necessary to resign to preserve my integrity and range of options.

I apologize to those shareholders who placed their faith in me by voting for me last year and regret that I will not complete my term of service on their behalf. I still firmly believe in the co-operative economic model and plan to continue as an active member of the BFC, just in a different role.

Thank you for your support of the Brattleboro Food Cooperative.

Tom Franks,

Brattleboro, July 15

‘Common sense’ gun editorial got it wrong

Editor of the Reformer:

I disagree 100 percent with your recent editorial ("Vermont needs common sense gun control," July 5-6). The only people common sense gun laws affect are honest people such as myself and not the criminal element at all. Los Angeles has highly restrictive common sense gun laws along with California, yet they have more than 100,000 heavily armed gang members. And yes, they banned military-style assault rifles with large capacity magazines and guess what those gang members are known to be carrying? Full auto assault look-alike weapons. Do you think they bought them at legal gun shops or went through common sense background checks to get their hands on them? Not on your life.Wake up, Mr. Editor. They got them through the black market and 99.9 percent of them are stolen. The same way here in Vermont.

Detroit, the same situation. Highly restrictive common sense gun laws and, wow, a 100,000 member gang problem and Detroit was named one of the most dangerous cities on the planet and yet, Vermont, which has zilch for gun laws, was deemed one of the safest states in the country to live in and raise a family. How can that be? Ban 50 caliber rifles? Do you even know what a 50 caliber rifle looks like? A lot of Vermonters carry 50 caliber rifles during the black powder hunting season. Yeah, they are muzzle loaders. And since when should thousands of like-minded Vermonters like myself have to ask permission to exercise our Second Amendment rights? Would it be right to put restrictive laws and require a permit to exercise your First Amendment rights? You would be howling so loud you could see your tonsils all the way to the Supreme Court. And your poll of those 600 people doesn’t speak for thousands of Vermonters like myself. Our state Constitution protects Vermonters from your common sense gun laws even more so than the federal version. I cannot see any common sense in enacting laws that only affect honest law abiding Vermonters like myself and leave us all as prey for the criminal element.

Gary Mosher,

Saxtons River, July 7

A search for compassion

Editor of the Reformer:

I failed. Had the opportunity to show compassion to a fellow suffering creature, and I blew it. I did not respond to the other’s painful cries for help. Instead of quickly and easily meeting the need, I selfishly responded to my own fear. I let fear determine my response -- non-response, really. Avoidance: I ran away from the challenge and betrayed myself and the other, because of "fear" -- false evidence appearing real; An imaginary what if. Ashamed of myself, I found some relief from my guilt at the noontime River Garden introduction to the Charter for Compassion. A friend reminded me that we all fall down and then get up again to do better in the future. I am grateful for her understanding compassion and forgiveness.

And I am so grateful to learn about the Charter for Compassion, a simple commitment to live life according to the old fashioned Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or, as Confucius said a bit differently 500 years before Christ, "What you hate in another, do not you yourself do." Compassion is basically putting the needs of another before our own. I feel terrible about my failure the other day and have gone to the Charter for Compassion website and signed my name to affirm a world of more heart and generosity toward all other living creatures on our planet. I feel better having made the commitment in a physical, demonstrable way. With the world in such a state of turmoil, imbalance and disregard, a little thoughtful care can go a long, long way. One small step toward the peace we all want in the world. One step at a time, we can reach the goal.

Won’t you all join me and the hundreds of thousands (soon to be millions) of people committing to live life caring more fully for each other and the planet? While cities and towns worldwide make the commitment, even countries are moving in that direction. Pakistan is thinking of becoming a Compassionate Nation. We can all choose individually and also in our various collective groups so that our towns become Compassionate Towns; Brattleboro can become a Compassionate City. In spite of our imperfections and failures, we can always choose open-hearted ways of being more human in the future. There is always room for improvement, and hopefully we have time.

Lynn Russell,

Brattleboro, June 27