Dear Mom and Dad | Inside Track | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published November 17, 1999 at 1:00 a.m.

Hey, have you heard about Knight's Law?

It's a new phenomenon. Its arrival in Vermont Liquor Land comes courtesy of Greg Knight, the new chief inspector for the Vermont Liquor Control Board. Knight is an ex-Burlington cop who moved on to be state liquor inspector. Recently he was promoted to the new position of "chief inspector." It's a "people" job, and Sir Knight is a people person.

For years, bar owners and licensees in the Vermont booze trade have moaned and groaned over how they get whacked with a cement truck, in the form of a license suspension, if caught selling to a customer under 21. Meanwhile, the customer, without whom the law cannot be broken, gets a slap on the wrist.

There has been a "disparity," said the new chief inspector of the booze police. "I feel it's my duty," he said, "to look as hard at the other side of things," i.e., the thirsty customer with the phony identification.

In a Seven Days interview this week, Knight whipped out a fistful of 40 fake IDs he collected in the last month from young adult customers at the popular local beverage center located on the edge of Burlap's student ghetto. Then, with his other hand, he pulled another fistful out of his inside pocket — IDs seized by the store's managers and clerks and turned over to him.

Hey, it's a jungle out there, a real anthropologist's wonderland, full of young monkeys craving state-regulated canned and bottled beverages laced with the universally popular. number-one drug on Earth. This Bud's for you!

And the word is starting to leak out that, from now on in Vermont, getting caught with a fake ID while in pursuit of the culture's favorite mind-altering substance is going to hurt. That's because Chief Inspector Knight is applying his seasoned investigative skills to locating the individuals those fake IDs once belonged to.

Under Knight's Law, retailers are instructed to seize any ID they believe is phony. That can be a real tester in this computer age, where the price of the fakes ranges from $50 to $250.

"I take it from there," said Knight, "and do the investigation to find out from whence it came. Once he's located the unlucky suds-seeker, Sir Knight mails them a little traffic ticket for $192.

"It carries a 60-day suspension,” he noted, “and you have to pay a $30 reinstatement driver's license back." And, a might want to check with their home state, because it could be reciprocal, meaning if they’re suspended here, they’ve got problems back home.”

And there’s more.

Under Knight’s Law, individuals who by ruse attempt to buy a six-pack prior to the attainment of their 21st birthday are also being cited into criminal court. You see, explained Knight, “Under Title 7, it’s illegal, criminally, to misrepresent your age to procure alcohol. It’s one problem that you have the fake ID, the other problem is your using it illegally to get alcohol. That’s a criminal violation, so you get a court date for attempting to procure alcohol by a minor.”

And there's more.

The new chief inspector is going the extra mile for these young Americans. The concerned parent in him is reaching out to help. And to help in the most effective way possible, Chief Inspector Knight is sending letters to their out-of-state parents. Out of the goodness of his heart, Sir Knight is letting the 'rents know their darling college student daughter or son is in serious hot water up in Vermont. He's informing them their precious offspring has a date-certain appearance booked before the judge down at district court. Imagine their reaction when they picture their beloved baby being arraigned and charged alongside the best rapists, robbers, child molesters and drug dealers Vermont has to offer. Instead of moonlight in Vermont, it's 1-800-GET-A-LAWYER time!

Chief Inspector Knight anticipates his family-values approach will have beneficial results. We'll see.

Livable to Die For! — These are pretty hot times in the old town of Burlington, Vermont. What a weekend. Friday night, the high school football team won a state championship for the first time in 29 years.

Saturday, the big downtown anchor department store that city leaders have been dreaming about for decades finally opened its doors.

And Sunday night, A&E, the national cable TV station, picked Burlington as the number-one most livable city in the United States of America!

"It was a lot of fun," said Mayor Peter Clavelle. He said he watched parts of the A&E broadcast, "particularly the part where Burlington was declared number one. What can you say? We all know this is a great place to live."

Mayor Proggy first got wind something was up back in August.

"One Saturday afternoon," he told Seven Days, "I was on my way to a wedding and there was this film crew on the steps of City Hall. So I said, 'What the hell are you guys doing here?”

“We’re filming Burlington for A&E,” they replied. “Who are you?”

“Well, I happen to be the Mayor,” Clavelle answered. “What’s A&E?”

They told him what they were up to and then asked him why people want to live here.

“People don’t want to live here,” replied the mayor. “Long winters and not a lot of jobs.”

Obviously A&E wasn’t buying it.

After listing Burlap’s obvious shortcomings, like the lack of a downtown hardware store or supermarket, Clavelle added, “I’d be the first to acknowledge the city’s got a lot of assets. Many of them have nothing to do with politicians — like lakes and mountains.

Still, it is a bit of a shock to many who live here. Our beloved Burlap beat out Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Austin, Texas, Charlottesville, Virgina, Eugene, Oregon, and all the rest. Of course, it was pretty cheesy the way A&E turned Burlington into a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream commercial. Viewers unfamiliar with the area will surely think Ben & Jerry’s Waterbury ice cream factory is located just off the Church Street Marketplace. But we did learn one little tidbit of folklore we hadn't heard before. Namely, that Ohseeohzo, the Indian God of Creation, turned himself to stone to stay in Burlington eternally.

Then how come there isn't a restaurant named after him?

Filene's Review — On first blush, it's simply freaking enormous. Filene's new department store on Cherry Street is 102 paces from east to west. It's the longest indoor straight line we've ever walked in Vermont. And the escalators zip right along during the 21-second trip between the first and second floors.

First celebrity sighting — WCAX-TV anchor Sera Congi and her husband, Joe Carroll. Princess On-Camera bought Lancome cosmetics and got a free bag, too. Prince Behind-the-Camera purchased Dockers slacks.

And the brand new sales staff appears a true reflection of the local population. Among others, we noticed a male clerk in drag and a convicted kidnapper serving out his five-year sentence in men's wear.

Not to worry shoppers, he may work at Filene's, but he is officially in the care and control of the Department of Corrections.

That’s a relief.

Political Cross Dresser? — Amazing, James Dwinell, executive director of the Vermont GOP, sure didn’t look sleepy at the recent Republican State Committee Meeting at the Elks Club in Montpeculiar. Jimmy the Joker had been up all night returning home from a very special Friday night party at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. It was the 15th reunion of the old “Gary Hart for President” team. Dwinell was Mr. Monkey Business’ finance director. Among the old faithful in attendance was New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen who headed up the Hart campaign in the Granite State. And singer-songwriter Carole King was on hand to provide the sentimental tunes. Unfortunately, with duty calling back in Vermont, James had to leave the Washington reunion party early to catch the 10 o’clock bus to the New York Port Authority, where he picked up his car and drove back to Vermont in time for the GOP pow-wow.

Do you think if Gary Hart had become President we would have got the “sex with the White House intern” thing out of our national psyche back in the 1980s?

Home Improvement? — Unlike that state across the pond, frugal Vermont does not have a governor’s mansion where the state’s chief executive and family can reside in fish-bowl splendor. In Vermont, it’s pot luck. Dick Snelling had the most gubernatorial-looking manse in recent times out on Shelburne Point. Madeleine Kunin started out as governor in a mid-size split-level on Dunder Road in Burlington’s South Cove area — a quietly classy neighborhood carved out of the north side of Red Rocks in the 1960s and populated by university professors and doctors. Queen Madeleine later moved up to a refurbished camp on Shelburne Bay in South Burlington.

Gov. Howard Brush Dean III moved into South Cove in the mid-1980s. Nothing special. Not even a lake view. The Dean hacienda on South Cove Road is assessed at $221,300. Annual property taxes are just under five grand.

But we recently noticed improvement under way. A remodeling contractor’s sign was planted in Ho-Ho’s front lawn for weeks (it’s on our regular bike route).

According to Tom Peterson, vice-president at Prime Construction on Pearl Street, the House of Dean is now enclosed in brand new vinyl siding. It’s been a good year in the building trades, said Peterson, and the Guv, like everybody else, had to book the job three to four months in advance.

“He was a very nice client to work with,” Peterson told Seven Days. “He and his wife [Dr. Judy] were very pleasant.”

Peterson declined to reveal the cost of the gubernatorial siding assignment, but we do know our governor is a credible fiscal conservative. In fact, we can almost hear his scoffing that this distinguished little weekly has yours truly to stoop so low as to report an item so lacking in news value.

However, the choice was between writing about Ho-Ho’s leadership on the Hydro-Quebec Crisis or reporting on his brand new vinyl siding.

Besides, Katie, the Guv’s three-legged kitty cat, told Seven Days the secret reason her master is fixing up the old house is to put it on the market. That, she confided, is because “Howie’s anticipating the invitation from a certain presidential hopeful to join the national ticket.

Katie broke the Dean family’s wall of silence, she said, because she thinks “pets have constitutional rights, too,” especially gubernatorial pets. And the furry little amputee doesn’t want to move to Washington, D.C., and be thrust into the national spotlight as America’s #1 Disabled Pet. Just imagine it — “Larry King”, the “Tonight Show”, People magazine, Oprah Winfrey?

It’s enough to make your full fall out,” Katie said.

Jeezum, it’s starting to feel like April Fool’s around here, and it’s only November. By the way, if you bump into Ho-Ho today, November 17, wish him a “Happy Birthday!” And wish his press secretary, Sweet Sue Allen, one , too.

Congratulations! — To radio talk show host Mark Johnson and Ch. 17 honcho Lauren-Glenn Davitian on the birth of their first child Stella Rose.

Suggestion — For Richard Sedano, head of the Department of Public Service, which represents the public in the minefield of utility regulation. Don’t go on any more talk shows without committing your department’s consumer hotline number to memory. Or at least write it on your hand or sleeve. It’s 1-800-622-4496. Now, don’t forget it again!