January 22, 2019

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Let ride-sharing expand

There’s something in the DNA of Vermonters that comes from our Yankee ingenuity that helps us solve problems using limited resources, and usually in a way that helps benefit our community at large.

For example, while a full-time professional squad of firefighters makes sense for a community like Burlington, the same service is quite impractical in rural Vermont. So we improvise and put together a network of dozens of volunteers who help out when the need arises.

Similarly, a centralized public transportation system makes sense in and around Burlington. But it becomes difficult to justify in most parts of the state. Today, there is an opportunity for rural Vermont to embrace technology that empowers individuals to help solve their neighbors’ transportation needs.

Ride-sharing companies like Lyft are looking to expand in Vermont to help connect Vermonters to each other and make the impractical possible, using a decentralized model similar to the volunteer firefighters our local communities depend on.

In so many places in rural Vermont there are people who — due to age, finances or other circumstances — find themselves without a means of transportation. Ridesharing companies can help solve those challenges, filling critical transportation needs.

As the legislature looks at regulating these companies, I hope it can preserve the way these companies have been able to do business so that drivers and riders can continue to benefit from financial opportunities and needed transportation in places where they are hard to come by.

Paul Dame


President, Vermont Young Professionals

Defending Huizenga

Enough is enough. I have come to a point where I no longer will remain silent about the obvious lack of responsibility that town officials have for our police department.

For years, the department has been in the local papers for “lack of leadership” and  “internal strife.” Chief after chief after chief we hear the exact same sentiments. What continues is the destruction of good employees whose careers are ruined by an internal system full of retaliation, with witch-hunting tactics and policing of the police by the police all stemming from years of a toxic environment with issues that have never been properly dealt with for fear of monetary loss by town management.

However, we continue to ride this rollercoaster of money lost in legal fees and petty internal investigations that lead to nothing but embarrassment and long-term tarnish on the badges of a few good men.

Justin Huizenga (“State takes up probe of former Williston officer” May 3) was a leader, an upstanding member of the Williston Police Department for years. Eight of those years I worked with him. He was a polished, professional officer who consistently did the right thing.

Now it seems, because of a few members who over the years are always involved in these types of issues or at the center thereof, we now have an officer who is fighting for his career. We read about Huizenga supposedly going to the gym on town time, however isn’t it questionable that the officers who filed the complaint took it upon themselves during town time to conduct their own personal investigation using town equipment (cruisers, dash cam video etc.)? That I find truly disturbing.

Fox 44 reported a $3 000 amount in legal fees the town spent on this most current investigation. I would love to see the totals for the past 10 years just for giggles. The fact that the Observer would print negative remarks about former Chief Shepard spoken by a member who was not even named is embarrassing to say the least. This is a man who came to Williston after 30-plus years of flawless service in South Burlington, and we take it upon ourselves to try and tarnish his good name. Shame on us all for allowing that to occur.

And shame on the town management for not doing the right thing by the people who depend on them for protection against tyrants.

Marilla Whitcomb


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