December 15, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Williston deserves role in airport governance

I would like to respond to the statements made by Burlington International Airport Director of Aviation Gene Richards during his recent presentation to the Williston Selectboard opposing regional governance of the airport and reported in the Sept. 7 edition of the Observer (“Airport director defends ownership”).

Richards’ comments were misleading and designed to scare the selectboard away from supporting a resolution calling for the establishment of a committee to evaluate regional governance of the airport.

Richards “described the airport as a self-funding enterprise that has no direct impact on Burlington taxpayers.” This is true, and it has been that way for decades. But then he ridiculously claims that if Williston were part of a regional governance structure, it would somehow cost the town’s taxpayers $2 million per year. Obviously this is a contradiction.

Here is the real issue: Communities such as South Burlington and Williston that are near the airport and are affected by operations and concerned about its long-term economic viability deserve a seat at the governing table.

Today, the airport is managed by Richards alone, with an Airport Commission whose authority is purely advisory. A change in governance will have zero impact on Burlington residents, but will provide regional oversight of airport management where no real oversight exists today. This issue is about good government and the protection of a vital regional economic development asset.

I urge the Williston Selectboard to ignore these scare tactics and vote to support the regional governance resolution. Williston residents are affected by airport operations and deserve a seat at the governing table.

Tim Barritt

South Burlington city councilor

Keep Vermont on track for carbon reduction goals

I disagree with Jonathan Lesser’s assessment published in the Sept. 7 edition of the Observer (“State energy plan — costly, symbolic environmentalism”).

He advocates for abandoning Vermont’s ambitious move away from a fossil fuel economy over the next decades while offering no solutions or alternatives to deal with the very serious threat of climate change.

Mr. Lesser’s assessment that we are only a drop in the bucket is dangerous because it gives us an excuse to not do our part. It is essential we take personal responsibility and all do our part to pass on a livable world for present and future generations rather than shirk our shared responsibility and join the cynical herd mentality.

Vermont is the perfect place to start the move away from fossil fuels, while maintaining a healthy economy. A well-respected economic modeling company, Regional Economic Modeling, Inc., has projected Vermont can have a vigorous economy by taking bold action moving away from a fossil fuel economy.

Virtually all nations have agreed to very aggressive action to reduce their carbon footprints. After President Trump decided to withdraw from the international Paris climate change agreement, Gov. Phil Scott declared that he supported Vermont continuing its participation and reaching its 2050 energy goals.

I look forward the Governors Climate Commission findings due in December and hope for our governor’s continued support and action to make these goals a reality.

Kevin Batson

Williston

Free speech under threat in Vermont

CCTV and our fellow Vermont community media centers have been fighting with Comcast for more than a decade to modernize public, educational and government (PEG) access. Despite new requirements by the Vermont Public Utility Commission, the company refuses to upgrade PEG access in its next 11-year contract. If this stands, Vermonters will not be able to find PEG programs on interactive program guides and high definition channel lineups.

Even though Comcast provides these features to PEG channels across the country, it has sued Vermont in federal court to oppose the conditions of its new contract. With this action, Comcast is forcing CCTV and Vermont community media centers into yet another expensive legal battle.

Comcast does not want to pay to upgrade PEG access, yet it does not hesitate to squander ratepayer money to keep Vermont communities from digital access to public events, educational programs and free speech opportunities.

We need help defending free speech and public access. Here’s what you can do.

Go to cctv.org to join CCTV and Channel 17/Town Meeting Television, VPIRG and the Vermont Access Network in signing a petition that tells Comcast to stop wasting ratepayer money and comply with its cable contract with Vermont.

Contribute to CCTV’s Free Speech Defense Fund and help us fight Comcast in federal court. We have already spent two years — and way too many precious resources — advocating for improved quality high-definition channels, an interactive program guide and other upgrades that are already available on cable networks in other parts of the country. Your tax-deductible donation will help offset our shared legal expenses.

Thank you for your support of free speech and open access.

Lauren-Glenn Davitian and Meghan O’Rourke

CCTV Center for Media & Democracy and Channel 17/Town Meeting Television

Help prevent illegal cancer screening charges

Have you been charged for a mammography screening?

Thousands of Vermonters follow their doctors’ advice and get an annual mammogram screening. About 10 percent of the time, they will get called back for additional views.

Being told that you have to come back for more views can be stressful, but most of the time, it should not lead to additional cost for Vermonters.

In 2013, the Vermont Legislature passed a law requiring that mammography, including call-back screening, be covered without copayments or deductible charges. This means even if you are still in your deductible, your screening mammogram will be covered.

The law, however, has not been fully implemented. Women are paying hundreds of dollars for screenings that should be covered in full. Other women are avoiding mammography screens out of fear that they will be called back and have to pay.

We hear stories of women being charged anywhere between $300 and $500 for screenings that should be covered at no cost.

We are working with Vermont’s insurance companies and health care providers to implement the law and make sure that Vermonters are not charged for their screening mammograms.

The Vermont Legislature wanted mammograms to be covered without cost sharing for a good reason. Early diagnosis of breast cancer is key to improving outcomes and saving money. It is hard enough for Vermonters to get timely screenings without worrying about how they will pay for them.

If you have been called back for an additional mammography screen and were charged, we want to hear from you.

Contact our office at 1-800-917-7787, email hca@vtlegalaid.org, or go to vt.lawhelp.org/health.

We offer free help to all Vermonters who have questions about, and problems with, health insurance and health care.

Mike Fisher

Chief health care advocate

Vermont Legal Aid

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