Friday October 12, 2012

Once again we find ourselves overwhelmed with topics demanding a response, both local and on the national scene. Here goes:

* The Bennington County State's Attorney's decision not to pursue charges against Pownal Select Board Chairman Steve Kauppi was a welcome one, even if it was based in part on the statute of limitations having expired for the alleged theft of loose boards from the town-owned Bartels Lodge property -- something Mr. Kauppi discussed beforehand with other board members and apparently received their approval to do.

This was always a dubious complaint that should never have been reported to the police, but simply hashed out at a board meeting. Mr. Kauppi is likely right that there was a political motivation for the complaint from resident Ray Shields, a persistent critic of town government. We don't agree with Mr. Kauppi, however, about the historic inn: The Preservation Trust of Vermont should be allowed a specified period to attempt a restoration with private or grant funding before the structure is removed or razed.

* While some are satisfied that a large grant for the proposed food co-op for downtown Bennington was rejected by the federal program in favor of other locations, we don't share the view it would have been -- or still could be -- a detriment to other shops in the area.


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If it becomes a reality, the co-op will be a draw in the downtown that could only encourage interest in healthy, organic and locally produced foods.

* The entire flap over Republican Mitt Romney's comment that he would cut funding to Big Bird and the public broadcasting system clouds the fact that anyone who favors slashing that minuscule amount from the federal budget is saying to the public, no, you can't have even a shred of quality news, arts and entertainment programming, but must settle for the average commercial garbage that passes for entertainment in American television and radio. Meanwhile, wealthy types like Mr. Romney can enjoy the best because they have the money.

* We think the Obama administration should further explain the "debacle," in the opposition's heated rhetoric, of the attack on the American consulate in Libya as soon as a former Reagan administration honcho -- or just any national Republican -- explains the 1983 bombing attack on an American barracks complex in Lebanon, which killed 241 U.S. Marines.

* And we'll offer this comment once again, as the subject of binge drinking is back in the news in Vermont: Society has to approach drinking by those under 21 in some way other than with a strict prohibition, which wastes police time, demonizes parents and others trying to teach teens responsible drinking habits, and absolutely contributes to bingeing and related overdosing, violence, assaults and vandalism.

Too many adults are still convinced just saying no is the best answer. Teaching responsibility and maturity is more difficult, but a far better option.