by Peter Freyne
So I stroll down to Speeder & Earl's about 11:45 Thursday morning for the usual caffeine and New York Times and see how the world has changed!
The water main beneath the old brick building that's worldwide H.Q. for Speeder & Earl's cracked in three or four places around 5:20 a.m., flooded the joint, and the House of the Coffee Bean was closed. Ch. 5 and the Freeps were on the story.
John Briggs has an interesting piece in this morning's local daily which has Public Works Director Steve Goodkind all but admitting the city screwed up when they turned on a new pump at the main plant around 4 a.m.:
Goodkind said that when that particular pump is turned on, protocol calls for shutting down a valve by 80 percent to avoid a water surge known as a "water hammer."
"We're looking into it," he said.
But pour moi, there was an upside. Not only did Marie Claire slip me a free New York Times from the unopened bundle on the front steps, but I head down two doors to Fresh Market and who I do I run into but this rather interesting crew. Recognize any of them?
That's State Sen. Hinda Miller, co-founder of Jogbra on the right; former Middlebury College President John McCardell, now a champion of lowering the drinking age, on the left, and Grace Kronenberg, McCardell's assistant at "Choose Responsibility" in the middle.
They were heading up to a 12:30 UVM panel discussion on the issue of lowering the drinking age.
I politely declined their kind invitation to attend, but they had a couple minutes and I had my tape recorder. Except for Grace, we were all the same age. McCardell's 58. Sen.Hinda and I are 57. The Sixties Generation are we: Vietnam, Woodstock, bellbottoms, grass and much more, eh?
Time was short, so I got right to the point:
Freyne: Is this really going to go anywhere, John? Or is it Just something to help you “feel good” in your retirement?
John McCardell: No. I wouldn’t take this on just if it were to “feel good.” There’s lots of other ways I could feel good without going through this effort.
Hinda Miller: This is a very important issue in regards to our young people.
Miller: Because at 18, we send them to war to die, but they can’t have a drink?
And the government has the audacity to connect it to transportation dollars, so our hands are tied because we need those dollars.
And it has to do with how we treat and look at our young people. And I have a 19 year old and I see how much energy is put in the disrespect and harshness of what goes on in this town around kids drinking. It is, I think, way out of bounds.
McCardell: It’s led to binge drinking, too. It’s forced it underground and behind closed doors.
Freyne: But how can you seriously be doing this and ignore crime statistics that indicate more marijuana arrests than other hard drugs. They’re still chasing pot?
McCardell: That’s a fair question and one about which I think there needs to be public debate. We are separating ourselves from that for a very simple reason, at least at this point. [Pot] is a substance that’s prohibited to everyone and there’s not an element of age-discrimination in that law, whereas with the drinking age, there is clearly an aspect of age-discrimination. But you’re an adult at age 18.
Freyne: You’re drawing the line on that - the age-discrimination factor?
McCardell: I think that’s what differentiates the two.
Freyne: But would you support decriminalizing marijuana?
McCardell: I think there are many of the same issues involved in both questions, having to do with the cost to society. I can’t speak even as an individual citizen without being associated with my organization so we have no position on that.
Freyne: Senator, should pot be decriminalized?
Miller: I’m interested in the tax dollars that are leaving our system and that’s one of them.
Freyne: Was that a “yes?”
Miller: I can’t say "yes" to you, Peter.
Time was up. They had to split.
And so it goes.....