Letters to the Editor - The Lakeville Journal - 8-27-20
The promised land?
In 1965 my husband, Robert P. Levine, went off to Mississippi to work as an attorney for President Kennedy’s Commission for Civil Rights Under Law. Among the incidents he recorded was a run-in with Sheriff Rainey and Deputy Price, later accused in the murders of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney.
Thirty-one years later he wrote an article looking back on 1965 to see what had been accomplished and asked, “Were our efforts as lawyers successful? Did the deaths of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney mean anything?”
In that 1989 article, he came to two different conclusions. In the public sphere — buses, water fountains, waiting rooms — there was progress. On the other hand, “The promised land we dreamed of in 1965 is not around the corner, or even in sight.… Mississippi may not be burning in 1989, but America, with all its prosperity and economic success, seems to be well on its way to establishing a permanent underclass made up of blacks and other minorities. Maybe that’s what James Cheney’s mother meant when she wondered if her son’s death made any difference at all.”
Unfortunately, his 1989 summary is even truer in 2020 than it was when he wrote it. The pandemic has revealed this to the nation, pulling back a curtain on the disparity in rates of infection and death. Our nation’s neglect of health care, housing, food security and a living wage has indeed created that “permanent underclass of blacks and other minorities.” Many of these are the very people who continued to drive our buses, collect our garbage and work in our hospitals throughout the coronavirus emergency.
Perhaps Robert, who died in 2013, would be most shocked by the efforts of people, 55 years later, to stifle voting. The right to vote was a battle he thought we’d won. It turns out in 2020 that we can’t take anything for granted when it comes to voting. From the Supreme Court to local districts, safeguards have been rolled back.
What can we do? Be sure you are registered to vote, then make sure you get yourself and others out to vote on Nov. 3, or send in your absentee ballot as soon as you receive it, following all the directions carefully. If you have time, work to facilitate voting elsewhere. We can do this. We can gather momentum to move forward, not backward.
Action on climate change needed now
I’ve been waiting for a big storm all summer. Storms are fun, and a good reminder of just how tenuously our day-to-day lives depend on the cooperation of nature. At their worst, storms in northwest Connecticut are disruptive, perhaps inconvenient. They prevent us from doing the things we normally do: going to work, using Wi-Fi. The storms in our part of the world are not overwhelmingly dangerous. Property damage is moderate, power outages are annoying but bearable, and deaths and injuries almost nonexistent.
The relative mildness of our “extreme” weather is not a given. Tropical Storm Isaias marks the ninth named storm so far this year. This has never (in recorded history!) happened so early into hurricane season. I’m not a scientist, but I keep up to date with developments in climate news — enough to understand that global climate change heats up oceans and causes more extreme storms. Hurricanes that were considered once-in-a-lifetime events are now occurring every 25 years; 2020 is projected to be one of the busiest hurricane seasons of all time.
There is no way to know for sure if the weather we experienced earlier this month was caused or exacerbated by climate change. This being said, attribution science — the branch of climate science that studies correlations between climate and weather — tells us that this is a warranted assumption. It is the assumption that I am making.
I understand why many people prefer not to think about climate change. Climate change is upsetting, and also difficult to focus on. Like this pandemic, it is a largely invisible, long-lasting, existential threat that can easily fade in the company of flashier news.
Personally, I have found that the horrors of climate change can feel comfortably far from me, living as I do in a pristine, rural town in Connecticut.
I wrote this letter because I suspect many who live here may feel sheltered in a similar way.
In the face of an issue that can feel overwhelmingly big and comfortably distant, last week’s storm may be a harbinger of things to come in our part of the world. Storms will become more numerous and more destructive. Litchfield County will grow hotter every summer. A lot of damage has already been done, but the next decade will be especially dooming if dramatic action is not taken. I urge readers to take a moment to think about the magnitude and scope of this problem.
There are so many ways to take individual action, the most urgent of which may be to support the presidential candidate who is in favor of the Paris Agreement. This being said, the Paris Agreement is not enough.
If you care about your way of life and don’t want to see it destroyed by extreme weather in the near future, please contact your policy makers and ask them to do more. Small as this action may seem, the future of our planet truly depends on constituents voicing their will.
Embracing truth in Falls Village
Colter Rule, in his letter to The Lakeville Journal of Aug. 20, asserts that, “A bona fide conservation offer was put on the table. Habitat didn’t want to hear it.”
This accusation is totally without merit, and particularly is without evidence. Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Connecticut (HFHNWCT) is not in possession of a “conservation offer.” Nothing has been transmitted to HFHNWCT that would constitute a bona fide offer. Most often, if there is an “offer” for a parcel of real estate, it is communicated in writing. The basis of contract is “offer” and “acceptance.”
Synonyms for bona fide are “genuine” or “real.” As executive director of HFHNWCT, I can and would attest that there is no “genuine” or “real” offer in the records.
There have been conversations initiated by Mr. Rule proposing that there be “conversations” with a local prominent conservation group, but in reality, once the management of that conservation group was made aware that a written option was in place for the parcel in question, the conservation group thought it best to invest their efforts elsewhere.
Integrity does matter. With the realization that a “bona fide” written agreement was already in place, the conservation group knew that Habitat would honor that agreement first, particularly as cooperation with the Falls Village Housing Trust was a basic element of Habitat’s general mission and purpose and embraced the proliferation of affordable housing in our region.
It is apparent that Mr. Rule seems to feel that the more he makes an assertion, false as it is, the truer it will become. That seems like a page out of what is quickly becoming an antiquated playbook.
Truth is not negotiable or subject to interpretation — something either is true, or it is not. Facts, character and integrity matter. Statements made without evidence are the last resort for those who play loosely with the truth.
Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Connecticut
Let there be light (and power)
After storm Isaias, when the power went out, we kept hearing about how neighboring towns were getting their electricity back. So we thought we would get ours back in a few days. We were wrong. It took more than a week for the electricity company to clear all the wires in Yelping Hill. Because of the loss of electricity we could not keep our food fresh so our “pod” decided to have big dinners at The Barn (a communal space) where we cooked and ate by candlelight.
On Wednesday, eight days after the storm, our first selectman, Gordon Ridgway, came to Yelping Hill to look at all the wires and figure out what was the problem. Gordon found our pod at The Barn, and my parents went up and showed him where we thought the problem was. Gordon took a few photos of these sites and sent them to the electricity company. That night we came home and found electricity running through our wires.
If you see Gordon Ridgway, cheer!
Lou Funcke Price
Looking forward to Nov. 3 election
He golf’s and tweets and nothing more
Time to show him the door
He isn’t working at his job
Just behaves like a slob
I never thought that I would see
A president as an arrestee
Now I just can’t wait
To see him at the prison’s gate
That will be a glorious day
Coming soon I do pray!