Home Commentary Letters to the Editor, 12.15.21

Letters to the Editor, 12.15.21

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Hobby Lobby is a Step Backward

To the Editor:

As a progressive, secular Vermonter I was shocked and disturbed by the boosterism reflected in The Bridge’s  “Hobby Lobby Coming to the Berlin Mall” (Nov. 22). 

Make no mistake: the arrival of Hobby Lobby in our community is nothing but a step backward in a state that prides itself on its progressive values grounded in respect for women, LGBTQ citizens, and those who support the separation of church and state. 

The article begins by presenting the nationwide number of employees and income of the national chain. What these figures fail to acknowledge are the conditions under which these workers are expected to function. The author mentions the 2014 Supreme Court victory that enables the store to withhold any reproductive benefits, including but not limited to abortion, from Affordable Care Coverage mandated by the federal government. But there’s more. Bucking the national trend, in March, 2020, Hobby Lobby remained open, because the owner explained that a message from God had dictated the policy. In addition it was revealed that the company refused to pay coronavirus sick leave. Furthermore, Hobby Lobby secretly defied several state mandates and reopened stores in selected locations. 

This is just the beginning of the company’s problematic activities  involving accusations of fraud and theft of religious artifacts, for example. My source is Business Insider, hardly a left-wing publication, but I urge readers to do their own research that will doubtless corroborate my facts and reveal other unsavory practices.

The article states that “proponents of the Berlin town center are likely to welcome the arrival of Hobby Lobby,” to which I point to the brief exchange on Montpelier’s Front Porch Forum in which a reader, upon learning about the company’s “dark history,” responds, “Yet one more reason to avoid shopping at the mall.”  Enough said.

Anne Charles, Montpelier

The Editor responds: In the article referenced by Charles, Bridge staff wrote what we believe to be a neutral article stating researched facts about the company’s size and revenues, intended to alert the community about the arrival of a controversial national chain. The article stated the facts of Hobby Lobby’s intended move to the Berlin Mall. The quote in the letter writer’s final paragraph provides only the first clause of the complete sentence, which, in its totality, stated: “While proponents of the Berlin town center are likely to welcome the arrival of Hobby Lobby, the company has sometimes been controversial for positions or actions, including its 2012 lawsuit against being required to fully participate in the Affordable Care Act because of the owners’ opposition to abortion; the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” 

‘Pallet’ May Be Solution for Temporary Housing

To the Editor:

As you may know (from the article you wrote in the Dec. 1 issue of The Bridge), during the month of November at least three unhoused Montpelier residents died outside in the cold … where they spent their nights trying to sleep in makeshift shelters. 

These deaths were unnecessary and may not have happened if there had been appropriate temporary housing available to them. Yet, year after year, our civic leaders and regional NGOs seem unable to adequately address even this most basic need of the 50 or so chronically unhoused people in our area. 

Meanwhile, a number of municipalities across the country have worked with a company called Pallet to successfully address the need for temporary shelter for their unhoused citizens, ranging from families who have lost their homes to chronically unhoused individuals like those who died in our area recently. The Pallet company can erect temporary, dignified, safe, and private shelters (and full bathrooms) in just a matter of days and at a surprisingly low cost — far lower than Vermont’s FEMA-funded motel voucher program. A small group of citizens has brought Pallet to the attention of numerous state and regional agencies and organizations, so far to no avail. 

We know that we can do better as a community! Visit palletshelter.com/homelessness to see how Pallet shelters work. Then contact your state and local officials and let them know that they need to act NOW to address the human tragedy of chronic homelessness in our central Vermont communities.

Carolyn Ridpath, Peter Kelman, and Mary Messier, Montpelier

Editor’s note: of the three deaths, one person died of an overdose; one person died of alcohol poisoning, and one person died of “natural” causes. One of the three had been temporarily housed at a hotel when he died.

Please Mark Parking App Meters on Street Side 

To the Editor:

Thanks very much for the story on the parking meter stickers ushering in a new era of for-pay parking. I’m glad to understand the problems the city has been having with the credit card meters (which I can confirm from personal experience).

However, I would request that the city put some kind of indication on the street-facing side of the parking meter that the meter is for the parking app only. It is very frustrating to spend a few stressful minutes parallel parking on a busy downtown street only to find out that I can’t stay there because it requires the parking app. Had I seen a notice on the meter from my car I would have moved on to another spot.

Until the entire meter population is converted, I ask the city to please mark those app-only meters on the street-facing side so that drivers can move on if need be.

 Therese Mageau, Montpelier

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The Bridge welcomes letters to the editor of 300 words or fewer. Letters may be edited for clarity, accuracy, legal ramifications or length at the editor’s discretion. All letters must be signed and include the author’s legal name and town of residence. Letters published do not necessarily reflect the views of The Bridge, its staff or its advertisers.  Because of the volume of submissions, we cannot respond to all writers. Please feel free to submit your letter via e-mail to bridgeeditor1993@gmail.com with Opinion in the subject line.