Do you have your residential landline telephone service through Comcast? Try an experiment: Look yourself up in the most recent phone book or ask for yourself when you dial 411 Directory Assistance. You’ll learn you have disappeared. You are no longer findable by anyone using those tried and true sources. In the future you may not be findable through the online White Pages anymore if that information is collected from phone service providers.

Why? Comcast unilaterally decided to stop providing phone information to publishers and to Directory Assistance for all its customers, even those of us who believe we have a publically listed landline.

According to a story in the Nashua Telegraph last April, there were more than 240,000 numbers removed from directories across three New England states.

Comcast told me that the phonebook publishers won’t pay the fees Comcast demands for what is essentially our information, even though we pay a very high price for phone service.

It gets worse: Comcast has managed to lobby the FCC so it is not a regulated utility like the traditional phone and power companies. That means our state Public Service Board has no direct authority over them. The company can set its own rules and policies without any oversight or consumer protections.

What can you do if this is unacceptable to you? You can complain to the Vermont Public Service Board (psb.clerk@state.vt.us or 802-828-2332.


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Although the PSB has no regulatory control over Comcast, it is collecting complaints about customer satisfaction to relay to the company. You can also call Senator Sanders office. He’s been working hard to try to reign in Comcast and is interested in your thoughts and concerns (800-339-9834.)

Let’s get Comcast to reverse this policy.

LORA BLOCK

Bennington

Happy with Medicare single-payer plan?

I have only one question for Mr. Harrington. Is he happy with his Medicare single payer plan? If his answer is yes, why not share these qualities with the general public through a single payer system for all? His assertion to "Forget whether or not the single payer plan is equitable or affordable or workable" cannot be ignored because Medicare has these qualities.

Look, we will never have the perfect healthcare plan. Granted, the Affordable Health Care Act had an awful roll out, but it does mitigate (lessen the pain of) the former insurance industry’s inequities, which were, one, arbitrary denial of coverage and two, astronomical premiums that in themselves denied access to any health care. Yes, insurance coverage can not now be denied and the cost is more equitable across the board.

The law will inevitably be amended just as the Medicare Act has been amended, since its inception in 1965. At least now, we have potential advocates for reform, our legislators, as opposed to fighting the insurance industry alone.

DICK BOWER

Bennington

A water-quality bill

H.586, a wide-ranging water quality bill, is still under discussion in the Vermont legislature. Its provisions would directly affect livestock farmers, developers, home owners, the forest products industry, and municipalities.

For example, all livestock would be excluded by fencing from entering State waters. Small farms would receive closer scrutiny. Stormwater permits would be required for land disturbances on one-half acre or more (up from one acre). Something like an impervious surfaces tax would be levied on residences. And municipalities would be required to adopt tougher road and bridge standards.

While the bill is likely to be amended before it moves forward, residents can read the original bill at http://www.leg.state.vt. us/docs/2014/bills/Intro/H-586.pdf. Or voters may wish to discuss the bill with state representatives. Their contact information is available at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/legdirMain.cfm.

SHELLY STILES

District Manager Bennington County Conservation District

Bennington

I already eat veggies

In response to the letter to the Banner, "Great American Meatout," Kyle Roberts is suggesting to all us that we go vegan, telling us what we should eat and more to the point, what not to eat, mainly meat. No, I don’t "need encouragement" to eat whatever it is you’re trying to sell us and I already eat veggies everyday in every way. I am most impressed with hops and barley from none other then Mr. John Barleycorn. That’s beer and most folks don’t need encouragement there either. Yes, it is true that Spring is coming and I want to celebrate it too, although not with a vegan legumes and grain party.

No, I plan to barbecue burgers and dogs, and chicken covered with barbecue sauce cooked to perfection. To wash it all down me and the boys will drink good old brewed in Vermont beer and ale. Now that’s a veggie right? You can’t barbecue grains, but my horse will do the meatout thing by chewing on oats!

TOM KING

Shaftsbury