Letter Box


1 percent tax will hurt local business

Editor of the Reformer:

With the recent passage of the 1 percent option tax by the voters of the town of Brattleboro, our Town Meeting Representatives may be tempted to approve this new tax at the upcoming Town Meeting. Don’t do it. After careful consideration, I now believe that this tax will hurt the already struggling retail businesses in our area and will encourage more purchases across the river in New Hampshire. Justifying the tax to help pay for the police/fire project is like correcting an error with a more egregious error.

The real problem is the inability of our town to pay for the police/fire improvements without significant tax increases. Regardless of how necessary the project might be, the project is financially ill conceived and unaffordable for the already overburdened taxpayers. Brattleboro has the highest property taxes in Vermont and a per capita income which is middle of the road, a situation which exacerbates the effects of the high taxes.

Rather than trying to correct the funding problem of the police/fire with another problem which is the 1 percent option tax, why not fix the original problem? Put the brakes on the police/fire project. One might say we cannot do it, but I say Town Meeting can do it if they have the intestinal fortitude to make the decision. Delaying the project will give the town time to reassess the validity and magnitude of the project. It may give the town time to develop alternative funding sources like getting help from Montpelier as a regional hub. It may give the grand list a chance to expand if the good work of SEVEDS continues to progress as it had thus far. It may give the town some time to pay down some of the other capital projects done recently to allow for more availability of cash for a new project down the road.

The police/fire approval was a financial wrong and approval of the 1 percent option tax would be a wrong on the retail business community. Vote the 1 percent tax down because two wrongs do not make a right. Then deal with the real problem which is our town’s inability to afford the police/fire at this time. I urge the Town Meeting Members to seriously consider these thoughts as they prepare for the upcoming Town Meeting.

Hugh W. Barber,

Brattleboro, March 10

Nuclear concerns persist around the globe

Editor of the Reformer:

Vermont Yankee is closing. This is what is important. Yes, some concerned Vermonters think the decommissioning trust fund should not be used to buy dry casks in which Entergy keeps the waste until the federal government takes it -- to where is still unknown -- and the possibilities grow slimmer each day.

Not only is Fukushima doing the impossible but the impossible occurs in New Mexico today also.

When the Mark I Boiling Water Reactors were developed concerns arose as to the ability of the pressure suppression system at the reactors to contain hydrogen. Three reactor at Fukushima exploded March 11, 2011.

On Valentine’s day 2014, at the Waste Isolation Pilot Program run by the Department of Energy in New Mexico, where the waste from Hanford nuclear site in Washington is stored since WWII, alarms sounded about a plutonium and americium radioactive gas leak.

Just like Fukushima, this was never supposed to happen.

Given that it has people in New Mexico and Washington, D.C., just like they were in Tokyo three years ago, wringing their hands and calling PR teams to keep people like us from thinking anything could be out of order in Oz, now there are two active leaks of radioisotopes.

There is no debate. The isotopes from WIPP will lodge in the body and continue emitting rays for decades, a nearly assured truly miserable death sentence.

Among Tepco’s being overwhelmed at Fukushima, Japan not wanting to take responsibility, the U.S.government not monitoring radiation off the west coast believing Fuku radiation will dilute before it hits the U.S., and the Department of Energy not being forthcoming with information about the tragedy in U.S. atomic waste storage and its affect on the nearby residents, atomic power is truly near its demise.

A nearly infinitesimally small piece of plutonium or americium will lodge in one’s lungs and bones and bombard internal body organs with radiation for decades.

I remain grateful for the skilled workforce that maintains Vermont Yankee. I do not believe the management company of that skilled workforce, Entergy, deserves a Certificate of Public Good for mismanaging this reactor one day longer.

Gary Sachs,

Brattleboro, March 10

Military budget cuts
can help the nation

Editor of the Reformer:

In recent news, the Defense Secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff plan to reduce the size of the U. S. Army and to eliminate all Air Force A-10 attack aircraft.

This would shave the 2015 military budget to just a bit under half a trillion dollars, still more than the rest of the world combined. The A-10s were there to destroy Soviet tanks in case Western Europe was invaded, presumably in the 1950s. The Army had been sized for big simultaneous operations in Europe and Asia, like those of World War II 70 years ago.

As your Feb. 28 editorial pointed out, the "Cold War has been over for decades." Despite Crimea, let’s hope it stays that way.

Cutting military commissary and housing subsidies, does recognize that competitive civilian alternatives are in fact available where troops these days are generally deployed. If these cuts need to be phased in, so be it.

In reviewing her 2012 book "Drift," journalist Frank Rich says that Rachel Maddow shows how we have "declined into an overfunded and unchecked national security state -- one that inflicts more damage on America’s assets, our military included, than it does on our adversaries."

Maddow’s closing to do list in fact includes these directives: "Going to war, being at war, should be painful for the entire country." Iraq and Afghanistan were funded off-budget. Heavy use of the National Guard has avoided using the draft which could be opposed. Despite the fact that better than four of five members of Congress have never been in uniform, Congress must once again be the agency to declare war. The so-called imperial presidency must expire.

"Let’s do away with the secret military." The CIA dates from 1947 as does the Air Force, which should immediately take over the drones for reasons of pubic accountability.

"Let’s quit asking the military to do things left to our State Department," for example, that today is so poorly funded.

"Let’s ensure that our nuclear infrastructure shrinks to fit our country’s realistic nuclear mission" (whatever that is). The Air Force does not seem to be able to run it safely anyway.

When the Defense reductions are in place, we should put these people to work on American roads, bridges, and national parks where so much really needs to be done.

Alan O. Dann,

Marlboro, March 3


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