Letter Box

Thursday March 21, 2013

Please don't close CHSVT Editor of the Reformer:

The potential closing of the Community High School of Vermont should be a shock to us all. The service provided to this community as a whole is invaluable. I am a 46-year-old male who had much trouble in high school. Though I struggled for many years, I excelled in my efforts when it came to career endeavors. I have been with the same institution now for years but have always had the looming shame and a gnawing pit in my stomach in the knowledge that I lacked a high school diploma. After all this time I finally made the leap and received my diploma in 2012 at the age of 45.

I was having dinner the other night and a program came on the television. There was a story about an adult in high school. My 6-year-old daughter said "grownups can't graduate from high school." I got up from the table and grabbed my diploma, showed it to her, and asked her what the date on it was. She read it with surprise. I then explained how important the document was and it became for my family a very important lesson.

Thank you Community High School of Vermont. Don't let these experiences fade from our community. Don't let these opportunities pass us by. Don't let the Community High School of Vermont close it's doors.

A CHSVT Graduate,

March 6

Everyone should have health care

Editor of the Reformer:

In the 1970s I lived and worked in England, and was on the National Health System. I had good care and never had to worry about whether I'd be able to afford it. I am thrilled that Vermont is moving in the direction of universal health care and wish it could happen sooner than 2017.

Meanwhile, disturbing changes are afoot for participants in VHAP and Catamount, which will have to shut down at the end of 2013. This is driven by the federal Affordable Care Act, which is hardly the government takeover of health care that opponents claim. It is still an insurance-based system, and will not fully fund insurance for all current VHAP and Catamount participants. Governor Shumlin has proposed state funds to make up some of the difference, but at this point there is still a gap between current costs to the patient and projected costs under the exchange, which starts in 2014.

As a former participant in VHAP and Catamount, I am concerned about this rate increase. Though these programs are band-aids on a broken system, I received good coverage under them at a rate I could afford. I was relieved that this was available when I needed it. It is unconscionable that people who currently have coverage stand to lose it. That's not how universal health care is supposed to work.

These cuts to VHAP and Catamount do not fulfill Act 48's commitment to create a health care system that recognizes the human right to health care. As we move forward towards a universal health care system, we should not be taking any steps back by cutting funding to VHAP and Catamount and balancing any budget shortfalls on the backs of poor and middle class people. Instead, we must be looking to raise revenue in an equitable way so that everyone has access to health care when it is needed.

Ellen Schwartz,

Brattleboro, March 8

Stand up for
gun control

Editor of the Reformer:

On a recent "Vermont Edition" on VPR, a panel of reporters was asked about the gun legislation currently before our state Legislature. The consensus was this: even though a majority of Vermonters support the measures in the bills, the legislation won't go forward unless its supporters make their voices heard.

As a parent whose heart broke over the massacre of the innocent children in Newtown, I do not want to face the next school shooting and think, "Why didn't I stand up for that gun legislation?"

So, I've been working with organizations from across the state of Vermont who are uniting in support of this legislation, including Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, and Child Safe Vermont. These groups are not against the Second Amendment and are not advocating taking guns from anyone. Instead, we recognize this as a public safety issue that must be addressed immediately. As a country, it is our responsibility to protect our children -- and if the Legislature won't act without prodding, it is our responsibility as citizens of a democracy to stand up and insist that they do.

Ann Braden,

Brattleboro, March 8

Don't bottle up this bill

Editor of the Reformer:

The Vermont Legislature in the upcoming weeks will be deciding the fate of the Bottle Bill. Vermont's most successful recycling program is being attacked by the Beverage Industry, and private waste companies, who have a financial gain if the Bottle Bill is repealed. The Beverage Industry is trying to shift the cost of recycling from themselves to the taxpayers.

The waste companies who promote Single Stream Recycling as the wave of the future charge taxpayers for recycling, this is not done for free. The Bottle Bill on the other hand does not put a burden on taxpayers, and has a recycling rate of 85 percent (Vermont's current recycling rate is about 35 percent).

The Bottle Bill has been providing a fundraising source for schools, food pantries and the Boy Scouts to name a few. Where will these groups get their funding from?

The Vermont Legislature passed a bill last year, that looks at ways of increasing recycling. Unfortunately the Legislators do not see the Bottle Bill as an effective and economical way to increase recycling. The only and logical choice would be to expand the Bottle Bill to include non-carbonated beverages.

When the Bottle Bill was introduced in 1972, water bottles were unheard of. Today water bottles flood roadsides and trash containers throughout the state, costing taxpayers money. By expanding the Bottle Bill, water bottles will be recycled at a rate of almost two-and-a-half times that they are right now. So the logical choice for Vermont is to expand the Bottle Bill, and not let Big Business cost us all.

Please call your local representative and tell them you support expanding the Bottle Bill

Chris Parro

Owner, Putney Road

Brattleboro, March 7

The best way to defeat tyranny

Editor of the Reformer:

I think that it is important to remember that when someone claims that gun ownership serves to prepare us to fight tyranny and defend ourselves from our own government, what they are really saying is that they are planning to shoot at the police. Not at police committing crimes -- at police officers enforcing laws passed by our elected representatives. What would that look like?

Perhaps they are thinking of the period during the second World War, when Americans with Japanese names were rounded up into internment camps. Should those families have fought back? How would that have turned out? Who, exactly, would have been more free?

Or perhaps they are thinking about the century of brutal racism and bigotry embodied in American law between Emancipation and the Civil Rights Act. Would more guns in black hands have moved us more quickly to end that shame and injustice? Are we to believe that a violent Civil Rights movement would have been better?

We do have an example from recent history of Americans using force to combat what they perceived to be tyrannical government. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in Oklahoma City. Nineteen were children at a daycare center. His motivation, explicitly stated many times, was to fight back against government tyranny. That is what it looks like.

In fact, our rights and freedoms as Americans have been protected and deepened and expanded not by locking our doors and loading our guns but rather by civic engagement, public argument, trials, protest, hearings and elections. Sometimes we feel we must disobey laws that are unjust. That is a far cry from firing at the police.

Whatever we have considered tyrannical -- whether it was the New Deal or the Patriot Act -- we have best opposed it in the messy but essentially democratic process of open, peaceful self-government. It takes brains and patience and a willingness to work with fellow citizens you disagree with deeply. Often no one is fully satisfied with the results, and so we keep working away at the job of citizenship. Welcome to freedom.

Matthew Wright,

Brattleboro, March 12


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