Shame on UVMMC

The front page articles on August 29 caused me to pause.  “Sins of our past” detailed, of course, the horrendous abuse found within the sacred houses of worship in the Catholic Diocese.  Shedding light on those involved is necessary to purge child abuse within this faith group.  What struck me as ironic was the article next to it.  UVM Medical Center is breaking ground on a new primary care facility, on the same day it has been disclosed that this same medical institution is forcing nurses against their conscience to assist in abortions.  Sounds like “sins of the present.”  Two articles revealing child abuse.  One in the Catholic Diocese and one in an institution whose mission is to “first do no harm.”  Sad.

Dick Strifert

Global climate strikes highlights need for local action

By burning oil, gas, coal and other fossil fuels, we’ve raised Earth’s temperature one degree Celsius over preindustrial levels.

According to the IPCC, we have about ten years to transition our energy systems most of the way off fossil fuels, if we want to hold warming to under 1.5 degrees C. This will be really hard but we have no choice. Failure means a cascade of out-of-control consequences such as more horrific storms, flooding, drought, fires, heat, disease, collapsing ecosystems, food and water shortages, climate refugees, and potential conflict over resources. Once we pass tipping points, there is little we can do. The threats to human and animal health are extreme. Millions of people are already suffering and traumatized due to climate change. Those who are least responsible are often most affected, so justice is crucial.

Huge problems demand huge solutions. We need to massively ramp up energy conservation and efficiency efforts and transition off fossil fuels to renewable energy in every sector—transportation, thermal, industrial, etc. Options such as building weatherization, cold climate heat pumps and electric vehicles should be available to everyone, regardless of income. Fortunately, climate action is an economic driver that saves money, improves health and creates jobs.

Young people remind us that they are living in the climate crisis for their entire lives. Many students worldwide have been leaving class on Fridays to strike for the climate. They cannot fix it alone. Everyone is needed. You can:

1. Join in a week of climate action from September 20-27. Burlington’s events on the 20th are at 11:00 am (UVM) and from noon to 2 pm at City Hall. Even if you cannot attend Vermont events, please:

2. Contact our Vermont legislative leadership (both Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President pro tempore Tim Ashe) and Governor Scott. Climate change is life-threatening and Vermont needs action appropriate to the scale of the problem now! We need to make the investments necessary to meet Vermont’s energy goals and decarbonize our energy system in an equitable way. Doing so will boost our economy and energy security. We need a rapid energy revolution that includes everyone!

3. Pass the word to others in your network, whether online or in person.

4. More information from the Vermont Climate and Health Alliance:

The biggest gift we can give our children is a safer, more livable Earth. Please join us.

Susan Leigh Deppe,
MD, Psychiatry

What’s Missing?

I’m responding to “Working Toward a Greater Essex” dated August 29th, by George Tyler and Elaine Haney. It’s part of a series of Pro-Merger “Ads” that attempt to justify the current merger campaign backed by a joint board of ten people eight of whom live inside the Village which is poised to benefit from a tax reduction in a merger, while the TownOutside-the-Village will see an increase.

Because this series is not labeled “opinion,” the Editor of this paper has a journalistic responsibility to ensure its content is balanced and not misleading. There should be reporting, not repeating.

I’ve been disappointed at what’s left out of “Working Toward a Greater Essex”. Essex Reporter readers deserve the whole story instead of the one-sided view printed all summer long. In the August 29th piece, a fairly complete Village history is included right up until 1976. It’s odd that the authors omit the March, 1999 Village vote to separate from the town. A curious exclusion as George Tyler wrote the front-page story on “one of the highest election turnouts in history” back then, and co-authored the latest “Greater Essex” piece, among others. Other important examples of information excluded:

1. More than half the $3.4 million Village-only taxes collected in 2018 would be paid by taxpayers in the Town-outside-the-Village, should merger occur. These are taxes that support a level of Village-based services that TOV residents never voted for, or against. Why is this never mentioned?

2. You may have read that consolidation has already saved $2.1M. Is this stated to imply that more savings could be achieved with merger? Not necessarily, as Governance  Subcommittee members know. George Tyler said as much at their 8/2/19 meeting: “That’s not necessarily how it’s all gonna work.” Why is this savings not qualified with “Past performance is no guarantee of future results”, at least? In reality, this is an example of the savings that can be achieved without merging by cooperating and sharing. Bravo!

3. In the August 29th “Article” Village resident and Town Selectboard member Elaine Haney predicts the tax consequences of separation. It’s true the Town Grand List would decrease by 42%, but she does not mention the Town’s expenses would also decrease once a TOV-only government stopped serving Village residents. What might happen to the Town budget if only half the population needed to be served? As an independent entity, the TOV would be voting on its own budget and would elect its own representative board for the first time in decades. What’s not to like about putting an end to “taxation without representation” from both Village and Town perspectives? I started attending merger-related meetings in person just two months ago and quickly realized much crucial information doesn’t make it to print. I’ve been shocked to hear, during official meetings, not one but two jokes disparaging TOV and Village residents. One Selectboard member jokingly suggested adding the image of Mr. Monopoly running away with a bag of money from the Town to the Village to a merger info-graphic. I bet you won’t find that in the meeting minutes, but it is on video. This illustrates a lack of respect and belittlement of the ramifications of merger to both TOV and Village constituents. Maybe we should start exploring alternatives to merger before it’s too late. The solution is right in front of us. If 2.1 million can be saved by cooperating and sharing without merging, and with no promise of additional savings, how is merger the best choice?

Ken Signorello

Need for compromise in gun control debate

Gun control works according to some of the greatest leaders the world has ever known…Mao, Stalin and Hitler.  Germany, a free and democratic republic, on November 11th passed laws to prevent Jews from legally owning firearms in 1938 when the progressive socialist party took control of the parliament.  Today, arguably, Progressives like to put white, male conservatives into the same category.

That being said, I believe there is something we need to do to about someone who can maim 8 people within 30 seconds of police arriving at the scene.  Background checks need to include pertinent information that today preclude some of it from going into databases because of privacy protections.  HIPA laws must not be so privately sealed that psychological info as to threats of harm to themselves or others are not allowed in background check databases.  The same can be said for troublesome events while a person is a minor.  Also, a common sense approach must be applied to automatic weapon ownership.

I am a staunch supporter of the second amendment for reasons of self-protection and to ward off potential tyranny.  That being said I advocate for a law to limit sales for automatic weaponry to citizens of the United States until 26 years of age.  An argument could be made that all people perpetrating mass shootings are behaviorally compromised and need professional help.  Over the last decade I have heard family members suggest that their young adult children who are suffering from a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness should not have access to guns but when evaluated by a mental health professional are not found to be a danger to themselves or others.  And more times than not, the evaluation is heavily influenced by availability into a facility.  They will deny this but sadly it is the case.  That being said, I have seen most seriously ill young adults hide their mental illness for years and only until they get in trouble with the law are parents “clued” into their son or daughter’s illness as opposed to the normal rigors of adolescences and young adulthood. My reasoning behind it is based in science.  Young adult brains are not fully developed until the age of 25, especially in males.  Undiagnosed mental illness is usually revealed by that age and when it is, due process can take its course and weapons can be confiscated and/or prohibited if deemed appropriate for public safety through due process.  There must also be a process to recover one’s second amendment right when “responsibility” to meet that bar can be established in a court of law.

Young adults by the age of 26 have had either successfully finished college and or have an established career path.  Also have stable social relationships entering into marriage and starting families.  All to which doesn’t preclude someone from mass violence but certainly suggests maturity, commitment and responsibility.  I think that is a compromise I could live with.  If Peter Welch is listening, I advocate our desire to bring that compromise in the form of a bill to the congressional floor.

Ron Coppola
Essex Town

Village school busing a welcome improvement

At the start of each school year, it’s always a joy to watch all the kids walking to school. On the other hand, there is also an unpleasant adjustment to a long line of cars up and down our street every morning and afternoon. This year, though, the sidewalks are still full of kids walking, but there is no longer a line of cars. Thanks to the EWSD for working hard to sort out transportation for the district. It has been challenging at times, but the end result is excellent. Less traffic, less pollution, and transportation for students who need it.  Seems like a good win for everyone! With appreciation,

Susan McCormack

UVMMC failed to learn from the past

The recent revelations by the Civil Rights Office at US  Health and Human Services in which a nurse was reportedly compelled under pain of a loss of employment and potential loss of a nursing license to assist in an elective abortion procedure in violation of her conscience are nothing shy of unconscionable.  Now four other nurses are making similar allegations.

It seems that the Medical Center has failed to grasp the meaning of a pervasive corporate commitment to ethical and lawful behavior, despite prior events of clear-cut violation of Federal Law (i.e. the Renaissance travesty).

It also appears that the Medical Center’s zeal to embrace the broad practice of abortion, it may have made the decision to trample on the legal and ethical rights  of it most valuable resource – its human resources.

Finally, it made an asinine financial calculation:  Is its desire to practice abortion is worth jeopardizing the financial stability of the institution?  Could UVMMC leadership not have achieved its goal without bringing down the wrath of the Federal government?

Shame on the entirety of the board for its failure learn from the Renaissance Project and its failure to live up to one of its most fundamental obligations, the protection of the assets of the institution.

Pete Gummere

St. Johnsbury, VT