Did the Reformer marginalize Pollina?

Posted

Thursday, May 22
Editor of the Reformer:

Last week, the Speaker of the Vermont House announced that she is running for governor. She is the fifth candidate that the Democratic Party has tried to recruit and they finally got a taker.

The next day the Brattleboro Reformer ran an editorial ("Now, it's a real race," May 13) in which they all but endorsed Speaker Symington. At the same time, they bent over backwards to marginalize Anthony Pollina, the Progressive Party candidate who officially declared in March.

Contrary to the Reformer's claim, Pollina represents a clear choice from Symington and Governor Douglas who have found common ground on a number of major issues. For example, in the spring of 2005 Symington was one of the primary architects who worked out a Memorandum of Understanding behind closed doors with representatives of the Douglas administration and Entergy. This soon resulted in the green light for Vermont Yankee to put radioactive waste in dry casks on the banks of the Connecticut River. Without the MOU and approval for dry casks Vermont Yankee would have run out of storage space for its spent fuel rods this year and would now be shutting down.

Since Pollina is on record supporting real green energy initiatives and jobs, meaningful conservation efforts and the "green fielding" of Vermont Yankee when its license expires in 2012, I'm puzzled as to why the Reformer has jumped so quickly to belittling Pollina's bid for governor.

Could it have something to do with the eight full page ads (value $20,000 plus) that Entergy and its allies have run over the past two months touting Vermont Yankee?

Peter Cooper,

Brattleboro, May 18

One playwright's perspective

Editor of the Reformer:

I was dismayed when I read in the Reformer the news that Zeke Hecker's "The Lift" had closed because of an audience member's threats. But I didn't know the details, and we, the public, still don't know the details as I write this, so I can't address the specific case except in general terms.

As some letters have recently suggested, it is the nature of theatre to hold a mirror up to society. There will always be people who cannot deal with their own discomfort. I've had audience members in the Midwest walk out during some of my plays when they were offended by the lesbian content. In another play, the board of the Performing Arts Center threatened to close down my show before it had even opened when one of their members, a fundamentalist, pitched a fit over the erotic content, threatening this that and the other, cloaked under the guise of protecting the innocent who may wander into my play, all unawares, and be corrupted. Censorship attempts tend to reflect the values of the individual, the place, and the times, and thus are arbitrary. The moral of the story is that the entire theatre and arts community in the city was swiftly galvanized to defend the right of the show to go on, and the self-appointed morality police quickly stepped down. There are a number of back-ups, legal and otherwise, to protect playwrights and theatres, including the Dramatist's Guild, if it comes to that. Every playwright long enough in the game will have similar experiences.

Given that there will always be conflicting opinions in the audience of any play worth its salt, the onus falls on the theatres and community to support one another in the face of censorship. It seems that this is happening now as the word spreads, especially with the weighty letter from the Arts Council decrying the show's closing. Dealing with censorship and threats is very distressing for everyone involved in the production. No director nor playwright nor company should feel they are isolated and without recourse. My hope is that, championed by the community, "The Lift" will resume its run, and that this unfortunate occurrence will help prevent similar incidents in future.

Suzanne d'Corsey,

Brattleboro, May 16

Holocaust play deeply moving

Editor of the Reformer:

Tears filled my eyes on Saturday evening as I witnessed "Kaddish -- a mourner's celebration of life" at the Main Theatre of Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College. I was profoundly moved by the words of remembrance of the Holocaust survivors that Lawrence Siegel so accurately and emotionally fashioned for chorus and chamber ensemble. Congratulations to Mr. Siegel for allowing us to experience such a moving performance, and to feel, as he wrote in the program notes, "the shadow of what the survivors felt and feel." His performance has added to my life a deeper sense of the Holocaust, one that I will carry with me from this day on. I would also like to express my appreciation for all the individuals who brought "Kaddish" to Keene and especially Jan and Rick Cohen who have provided a means for all of us to "repair the world."

Francis D. Walsh,

Chesterfield, N.H., May 4

Ride a bike to save gas

Editor of the Reformer:

After reading the front page story "Save Gas, Ride Bikes" (May 1), it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from author Jim McGurn. He said, "The bicycle is the vehicle of a new mentality. It quietly challenges a system of values which condones dependency, wastage, inequality of mobility and daily carnage."

Dave Cohen,

Brattleboro, May 5

On hemp ...

Editor of the Reformer:

I moved to Brattleboro last year, and having been active as an industrial hemp advocate for over 12 years, it was an exciting time to come to Vermont.

Bill H.267, which would permit the development of an industrial hemp industry in Vermont, had been introduced in early 2007 and was slowly working its way through the process. The bill has since garnered overwhelming support in both the House (126-9) and Senate (25-1) and is now on its way to Governor Douglas for his signature. Although he has expressed reservations, stating it is not a priority for Vermont, I humbly disagree. I urge him to follow the lead of the voters and legislators who obviously understand the great potential and positive impact this bill will ultimately have in Vermont, where agriculture is so important not just to the economy but to the very nature of who and what we are.

I applaud Senator Peter Shumlin, and his peers, who worked so hard to educate others and move this bill forward. It would have been a great shame indeed had all the efforts poured into it been for naught.

Bill H.267 and industrial hemp hold great promise for Vermont. Let's get to work building this industry for our future. It's time to ratchet up the pressure on Washington, D.C., so the United States no longer holds the dubious distinction of being the only industrialized nation in the world that does not allow its farmers to grow industrial hemp. State action is a key part of that process.

We can eat hemp, wear it, live in it and drive in it -- but we can't grow it? How absurd.

Eric Lineback,

Brattleboro, May 5

Honoring May Day

Editor of the Reformer:

I was excited and pleased to see the coverage of International Labor Day in the May 2 Reformer. The events in Chicago in the late 1800s are an important part of history. They have been obfuscated in this country, but they are still celebrated internationally.

Many thousands of workers organized against the low wages and 18 hour work days imposed by government and big business to "keep America competitive."

In crushing this movement, vast sums of money were spent to influence the media and the judicial system of Chicago. Five of the leaders who had argued eloquently for liberty and justice, an eight-hour workday, time with their families and food for their children were railroaded to the gallows.

These champions of labor rights knew that the unjust sacrifice of their lives would strengthen their cause. Albert Spies said, "If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labor movement -- if this is your opinion, then hang us. Here you will tread upon a spark, but here and there, and behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames will blaze up." Just before he was hanged on Nov. 11, 1887, he said, "There will come a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today."

The sacrifices they made to create the middle class that made this country great have evaporated in the re-concentration of wealth during the last 40 years. I can't imagine they would be pleased to see workers of today fighting for overtime as wages are too low to make ends meet on a 40-hour work week.

Why, in this time of our plummeting U.S. popularity and increasing globalization, are we not able to join the rest of the world in celebrating our own labor history on May Day?

William Tayler,

Putney, May 5


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