Green Mountain Blues
Didn't Vermont used to be a state of sturdy, freedom-loving Yankees? Yup. Is it still? Nope.
Forget everything you think you know about Vermont. Forget about Calvin Coolidge and Ethan Allen—they're dead. Forget maple syrup—cannabis is a bigger cash crop. Forget people outnumbered by cows—the latter have been branded on the face and slaughtered.
Vermont has been transformed from a stronghold of rock-ribbed Republican farmers to a playpen of gentrified utopian liberals. Can the trend be reversed? This year's elections offer little hope.
"I don't think we're infringing upon people's freedoms. I'd rather do too much for someone than too little."
—Ralph Wright (D–Bennington), Speaker of the Vermont House, February 1986, commenting on bills mandating seatbelts, banning happy hours, restricting smoking, and raising the drinking age
When Alexandr Solzhenitsyn left Zurich for Cavendish 10 years ago, he was drawn not by Vermont's politics, people, or culture but by the state's climate, its solitude, and the Russian library at Norwich University. Most importantly, Vermont's landscape reminded him of Mother Russia.
There was also a considerable body of evidence to suggest that Vermont was far less totalitarian than most of the Eastern Bloc. And, while it is true that Solzhenitsyn lives as a virtual recluse on a 50-acre estate behind a remote-controlled gate with video surveillance, he probably does not fear the attention of Vermont authorities. Actually, he ignores the politics of his adopted state and simply appreciates its physical beauty.
Vermont's landscape is a restful, 19th-century panorama of rolling hills, of primitive stone walls and undammed streams, of maples and conifers, of tiny farms and quaint villages, and of…silence. Very picturesque—but very Russian.
Officials from Pravda have lauded the resemblance of Vermont's hills to the western Urals. When Soviet citizens visit their Vermont "sister cities"—which they do in droves every summer—their favorite stop is the Moscow (Vt.) country store. They are photographed beneath the flag, which features a hammer but no sickle. These pictures appear in Vermont Life, the government-published quarterly that employs 175 part-time freelancers and 12 full-time state officials. Like Pravda, Vermont Life carries no private advertising.
Only 530,000 people live in the Green Mountain State, and sometimes it seems like most of them work for the government. Actually, Vermont has the equivalent of only 10,000 full-time state employees, or only 198 for every 10,000 citizens. That is a lot less than in a people's republic, but more than in most states. The US average is a mere 135. Neighboring New Hampshire has only 157 per 10,000, but the accepted wisdom in Vermont is that other states, especially contiguous New Hampshire, have been "spoiled" by rapacious capitalism, commercial development, and booming economies that prevent full public-sector employment.
This impression of spoilage has not prevented Vermonters from working in New Hampshire, however. Indeed, many Vermont border towns are mere bedroom communities to industries in Massachusetts, New York, and New Hampshire.
Nor is the image of spoilage entirely based in reality. For instance, only 76 percent of Vermont's land area is forested, while New Hampshire's is 87 percent forested. But Vermont has got the image. It's got the cosmetics: "It's a pretty state. Ecology-wise, they keep things up pretty good," Joel Nagler told the Burlington Free Press recently. He owns a $304,000 condominium in Vermont. "I'm for a strong ecology. I think that's what separates it from New Hampshire. There's a lot of places there that are junky or honky tonk."
Mr. Nagler makes his living in Edison, New Jersey, where he is vice-president for a paper manufacturing company.
The state's environmentalists guard Vermont's pristine image like eunuchs guarding a prized virgin. They have long cast Vermont's ski areas as lechers in a morality play that has thrilled citizens for at least two decades. Meanwhile, the number of ski areas has actually declined from 81 to 47. The surviving areas seem fairly inconspicuous; they account for less than 1 percent of the state's land area. Truth to tell, for mile after postcard-perfect mile, Vermont's country roads are nearly bare of commerce, industry, or development.
This sterility is deliberate—a contrivance of government policy that zealously promotes "a strong ecology" at almost any cost. Take the absence of roadside advertising.
A 1968 "beautification" law bans all roadside signs and strictly regulates the size, shape, and number of on-premise signs, even on the most minor roads. The law is so strictly observed that visiting motorists seldom know which town they are in because town officials aren't sure whether the law allows them to erect boundary markers. In April 1985, after the state's Travel Director had become hopelessly lost in the remote township of Albany, the state sign bureaucrats sent letters to the towns assuring them that most such boundary signs are okay.
Two dozen towns responded with cautious letters requesting more information.
Some northern New England towns survive as feisty, frugal, self-governing pockets of Yankee independence. Vermont towns are one-dimensional pastoral tableaus. If you're looking for government that is close to the people, you'd better bypass Vermont. On the other hand, if you like centralized state government infused with utopian ideals and the might to implement them at any cost, welcome to Vermont.
"God damn your Governor, your Laws, your King, Council and Assembly!"
—Ethan Allen, Green Mountain Boy, 1771, to the officials of New York
"Vermont emphasizes state government; New Hampshire emphasizes the township," James Ring Adams observed in his 1984 book, Secrets of the Tax Revolt. In examining the contrasts between the two oft-contentious neighbors, he mused: "It is tempting to say that the memory of winning independence has led Vermont to maintain a tradition of centralized state services."
It's true that Vermont's independence did not come easy. When the 13 colonies commenced the American Revolution, Vermont was a disputed territory claimed by New York and New Hampshire. In 1777, a colorful band of hard-drinking, freedom-loving land speculators declared Vermont an independent republic. The Green Mountain Boys wrote a constitution that was truly revolutionary in its prohibition of slavery—a continuing source of pride to subsequent generations of Vermonters—but the Continental Congress refused to recognize "the pretended state of Vermont."
Although the Republic was home to some Revolutionary war heroes—notably the colorful and controversial Ethan Allen—it was also haven to deserters from both the Continental and British armies, and it served as a sanctuary to tax dodgers of all stripes. Fed up with the war and the gentlemen of the Congress ("viperous skunks," Allen called them), the Vermonters explored a separate peace with Great Britain. Only the defeat of Cornwallis changed their minds, and Vermont finally entered the union in 1791 as the 14th state.
But, while Vermont's anomalous nascence receives a nod from political scientists, they rank the events of 1927 as more critical in tilting the balance of power from the towns toward the state. That was the year of the Great Flood, Vermont's worst natural disaster.
The flood hit on November 3, claiming the lieutenant governor, 59 honest citizens, innumerable cows, and, worst of all, hundreds of miles of roads and most of the state's bridges. The economic plight of Vermont's 246 towns was dire indeed; they had owned the vanished roads and bridges, and there was no way they could afford the necessary repairs.
The towns agreed to let the state repair the roads—and take permanent ownership of same. This transfer of responsibility to Montpelier was not without its opponents, but they were comforted by the fact that the state government was controlled by small-town agrarian Republicans, a frugal and unadventurous club best typified by incumbent President Calvin Coolidge, a Vermont native himself. Four years later, Vermont adopted a state income tax, and the skeptics said, "We told you so."
The next milestone in the decline of the Vermont town was the 1965 reapportionment of the Vermont House. The lower chamber shrunk from 246 seats—one per town—to 150 seats distributed by population density, spelling the end of the 180-year legislative dominance enjoyed by small towns and Grangers.
Simultaneously, a new freshet percolated to the surface of the public-policy agenda: a fatal fascination with the possibilities of state-wide environmental and social engineering.
"If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the Union and support of our institutions should vanish, it could be replenished by the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont."
—Calvin Coolidge, 1928
When John McClaughry moved to Vermont in 1963, he sought not to change it but to fit into it. A self-described "libertarian agrarian distributist Jeffersonian Republican decentralist," McClaughry has been active in Vermont state politics for more than 20 years. In 1981 he was a senior policy advisor in the Reagan White House. He is president of the Institute for Liberty and Community, a public-policy "think tank" headquartered in a log cabin on a dirt road in the tiny Northeast Kingdom town of Kirby (pop. 300).
McClaughry has observed, analyzed, and written about the decline of Vermont from "a conservative rural backwater into probably the most 'progressive' of the 50 states." His analysis stresses the role of Philip Hoff, who was elected governor in 1962—the first Democratic governor of Vermont since 1854. Hoff was a Massachusetts native, a crony of the Kennedy clan, and, with his Camelot connections, was able to obtain unprecedented federal aid for Vermont during the Great Society era. Social services flourished during Hoff's six-year administration, in particular federally subsidized, state-administered grant programs.
McClaughry ranks the demise of the traditional town-operated Overseer of the Poor system in the 1960s right up there with the Great Flood in the annals of Vermont disasters: "Once the state bureaucrats got in charge of the welfare system, their incentive was to maximize the number of people in the system as fast as they could get the legislature to vote more staff to handle them. We had a massive expansion of caseloads and bureaucracy."
But by the end of the decade, the federal matching funds had diminished, as had Phil Hoff's mandate. They left behind a bloated welfare bureaucracy and a $6-million deficit that served as a convenient excuse to impose a state sales tax in 1970.
As if Hoff had not wrought enough havoc, the extension of the interstate highways into the Green Mountains was soon introducing unprecedented numbers of non-Vermonters to its bucolic landscape. The urban crises of the late 1960s had made the state appear very attractive to East Coast megalopolites. And, although McClaughry is reluctant to stress the point, he notes that Vermont had (and still has) the smallest percentage of blacks of the 50 states. There was motive, means, and opportunity:
"A realtor told me," says McClaughry, "that every time there was a riot on the front page of the paper in Boston or Washington or New York, he had a dozen calls in the next three days from people wanting to buy land in Vermont. We had a massive migration of upper-middle-class professionals. But white flight only accelerated a trend that was already manifest.
"There was good times and big money—inflation, second-home purchasing, interstate access—all those things came together to make Vermont a new tourist frontier."
Some of the tourists stayed. Their baggage included some advanced notions about zoning, social justice, and most important, "ecology."
"These upper-crust liberals were horrified by the smokestacks of Hoboken and Somerville and Yonkers, and they were going to come up here to Arcadia and live the clean, wholesome life. They were going to save Vermont from what the rest of the country had degenerated into thanks to the defiling hand of man.
"They were susceptible to every liberal fetish, and they were articulate and media-oriented. They created the agenda for change. Their game was Act 250."
In its original 1970 form, Act 250 was a somewhat reasonable, if complicated, environmental law. It enjoyed broad support. The measure was favored by the tourism industry, which recognized that protecting the Vermont environment would ensure the state's continuing appeal. But according to McClaughry, certain provisions of the act were not implemented as many lawmakers had expected, and in particular, the law's permit provision became a vehicle for a different constituency with different values, different intentions, and a wholly different vision of Vermont's economic future.
In brief, the process was hijacked by anti-business environmental utopians. By the mid-1970s, Act 250 had become an instrument that McClaughry says "scared the pants off anyone interested in economic development, growth, or even private property ownership."
In February 1986, Vermont state officials confessed to the Burlington Free Press that before developing land in Vermont, a businessman could "conceivably" require approval from 28 state, regional, and local boards and would "easily" be required to obtain 50 or 60 separate permits. Ralph DesLauriers, president of Bolton Valley Ski Resort, describes hiring 15 separate consultants to prepare applications for the various permits.
"Vermont is so arbitrary," he said. "I have to tell you, as a developer, I don't know what the rules are anymore.…They want infinitely more information. The problem is, they can demand anything."
Vermont has become a lawyers' paradise. During the 1970s the rate of admission to the Vermont bar exceeded that of Maine and New Hampshire, and soon Vermont was estimated to have more lawyers per capita than any comparable rural state. By 1980 Vermont boasted 1,095 members of the bar—one lawyer for every 467 persons, far more than Maine (one per 545) and New Hampshire (one per 549.)
By 1982, a court case was filed for every fourth Vermont citizen. In New Hampshire the statistic was one for every 39th citizen. In Maine, every 66th.
Vermont's legal industry is one of the few sectors of the economy that seems to have profited from the state's enthusiastic meddling with people's property. It might be the only one.
Probably the toughest job in Montpelier today is lobbying for Vermont business. Andy Crossman, who represents the Associated Industries of Vermont, walks a thin line. Without scaring prospective businesses away from Vermont, the association must holler bloody murder whenever the government becomes blatantly anti-business.
"I tell firms interested in moving to Vermont to look at other things besides Vermont's government…
"Vermont has a real belief in education, for instance. Productivity per worker in Vermont is tied for number one in the country. Our quality of life is conducive to many industries, especially high-tech industries. Burlington, with its university population and spin-offs from university research, is a potential high-tech incubator area."
Crossman adds that Vermont has a low percentage of unionized shops and generally enjoys good labor-management relations. While admitting that Vermont is one of only four states in the nation with a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum (10 cents higher), he stresses that minimum-wage jobs make up a very small portion of Vermont employment. He also claims that Vermont business is no longer in decline, but regarding the optimistic projections touted by state development officials, Crossman sighs: "I question the numbers, especially the unemployment statistics. Certain niche industries are doing well. The rest are flatter than a pancake."
The jobless rate in 1985 was 4.8 percent. But New Hampshire and Massachusetts, both next door, had lower rates.
Losing Ground, Green Mountain-Style
Vermonters have come to detest statistical comparisons with other states. They pay higher state taxes than the citizens of New Hampshire and Maine. They spend more per capita on state services. Unable to deny these data, they have come to embrace them—as evidence of Vermont's superior virtue.
"Quality of life," their argument goes, "cannot be quantified. It's something spiritual. How can you put a price on such things?"
The state's opinion leaders—many of them recent immigrants to Vermont—seem to regard high taxes and costly state services as penance for citizenship. To demand government accountability for costs and benefits is heretical.
A medical doctor who lives in Norwich, Vermont, but who works in contiguous Hanover, New Hampshire, recently explained to a Boston Globe reporter why he does not live in the Granite State. He said: "You can have a cleaner conscience living in Vermont."
The Vermont versus New Hampshire tax-for-services debate was exhaustively explored in 1976 by Dartmouth economist Colin D. Campbell. The Campbell Report demonstrated that Vermont's greater tax burden and hordes of public employees had not resulted in better services to its citizens. Yet, 10 years later, Vermont's privileged elite persists in delusions of moral superiority.
Liberal guilt is a funny thing.
Vermonters pay high taxes, no question. But they also receive great gobs of federal money—more dollars per capita than citizens of any other New England state. Vermont ranks fifth in the nation in per capita federal handouts: $625 per person. The national average is $398.
The benefits of this largess should be splendidly evident. The taxpayers of the nation should appreciate what their dollars have achieved in Vermont, where levels of spending for welfare, education, arts, and all manner of "progressive" social programs exceed that of its neighbors. Let's examine the return from our investment.
Vermont's crime statistics are not too great. In total offenses known to police, Vermont's population-adjusted rate is 12.5 percent higher than Maine's and 26 percent higher than New Hampshire's. Vermont's murder rate is more than double New Hampshire's and significantly exceeds Maine's. In burglaries, larcenies, and thefts, Vermont leads northern New England.
Vermont's suicide rate of 16 per 100,000 exceeds the national average of 12.2 and far exceeds the New England average of 9.9. For white males in a recent four-year period, the Vermont rate was 26 per 100,000, compared to a national figure of 19. Vermont has the fourth-highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the nation. Its rate of motor-vehicle deaths is the highest in New England and slightly exceeds the national rate. In fact, in all accidental deaths, Vermont's rate surpasses every New England state and also the national rate.
And every two years, this state, with immense drama, elects a governor who, without fail, endorses the prevailing orthodoxy and promises to spend the state out of its difficulties.
"Vermont's politics, like politics everywhere, is becoming like soap opera. Nearly everybody in it is rich and pretty and has lots of time on their hands."
—Frank Bryan, author of Yankee Politics in Rural New England (1974), Politics in the Rural States (1981), and Real Vermonters Don't Milk Goats (1983), January 1984, to the Burlington Free Press
According to close observers and some stunned participants, politics in Montpelier has changed. The courtly and genial traditions of the Vermont legislature have been swept aside. Push comes to shove very quickly. Business lobbyist Andy Crossman observes that the climate has become very partisan.
"They play hardball all the time now. There has been a general trend in the make-up of the legislature, with an increasing number of lawyers, teachers, et cetera, and fewer farmers and small businesspeople. But it's not so much the change in membership itself as in the leadership, I believe. Traditionally, the speaker was relatively nonpartisan. Ralph Wright—who is originally from Tip O'Neill's district in Massachusetts, incidentally—is partly to blame. Ralph is apt to say: 'You will accept this or nothing else.'"
Although Republicans hold a numerical majority in the House, Democrat Wright was elected speaker. The Senate has a Democratic majority. There was a great deal of floor debate this year, much of it acrimonious and divisive. Rhetoric became very heated. Committee work was weak. Few bills reached the floor with a committee consensus. To make things worse, this is a gubernatorial election year.
Vermont's most colorful candidate for governor is probably the three-term socialist mayor of Burlington, Bernard Sanders. A Brooklyn native who leads the state's alabaster "Rainbow Coalition," Sanders used to advocate that government take over the state's banks and utilities and that all personal income in excess of $40,000 be confiscated. But he has mellowed. Now he wants to tax Burlington's hospitals and colleges, only the state legislature won't let him. He did manage to impose a city-wide "gross receipts tax," but business owners cannot figure out how to calculate it.
"Burlington," quips Vermont writer Frank Bryan, "is a large city which has the advantage of being close to the Vermont border."
The city's lake front is blighted, and all efforts to develop it have failed because the Sanders administration does not inspire the confidence of businesses—for which he blames the businesses. A political opponent has observed that the mayor is "a paranoid with a martyr complex." This seems a fair description of Sanders's propensity to rationalize his difficulties. He seems to suggest that the mounting failures of Burlington's private sector are solely contrived to make him look bad.
But Bernie is a charmer, and the citizens of "Sandersgrad" love him for his lofty and humanitarian intentions and his chic. His constituents (dubbed "Sanderistas") applaud his trips to Nicaragua and kid him about a rumored side-trip to Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion during his recent visit to Berkeley, California. He is running for governor as an independent.
Is Bernie, age 45, a lightweight? Not according to Frank Romano, who just finished serving two terms as mayor of Montpelier. "Too many people in Vermont are not taking Mayor Sanders seriously," he says. "Bernie is a very aggressive, very intelligent young man." Romano figures that Sanders has a large constituency in Vermont—"the academic world—professors and students—and, as he defines it, 'the underprivileged.'
"I had my first child and stopped working. Then I did a lot of volunteer things in the community, got a master's degree between children, and did some free-lance writing. My husband went to Harvard for two years, and I did some part-time public relations work at Boston University."
—Governor Madeleine Kunin, February 1985, to the Washington Post
"So to those who say that Bernie Sanders could not win a state-wide election, I say, 'You're kidding yourself.' I think he certainly could win a state-wide election."
A final ironic note on Sanders: he is tireless in calling for less state interference in local government. His motives are suspect, but his message is sweet and clear. To the chagrin of many free-market, small-government advocates, their best issue has been commandeered by the state's foremost socialist.
The 1984 raid on the Northeast Kingdom Community Church may have been the pivotal event in Madeleine May Kunin's race for governor. Although Republican Gov. Richard Snelling openly accepted responsibility for the raid, Mrs. Kunin's opponent, Republican Atty. Gen. John Easton, was inextricably linked to the Island Pond fiasco. It was a tough incident to explain. It still is.
Democrat Kunin promised to form a special commission to investigate the raid. Of course, her platform promised oodles more, besides, including planks prohibiting electric heat as a primary heating source, proposing higher taxes for resort communities, and confiscating, by eminent domain, businesses that want to leave the state. For all, some, or none of the above, Vermont elected a liberal, feminist Democrat in the year of the Reagan reelection landslide.
Governor Kunin was born in Switzerland in 1933 and raised in Massachusetts. She is married to Arthur Kunin, a wealthy Burlington physician, whom she recently appointed to a Governor's Commission on the Status of Women. Her brother is a Democratic state senator. Kunin has not been quite as radical as her platform portended—critics to the left and right call her "Straddlin' Madeleine"—and she has earned from Bernie Sanders the epithet of "Republican in Democrats' clothing." That must have stung, because Ms. Kunin's partisan credentials are intact.
For example, when Geraldine Ferraro's son was busted for allegedly peddling cocaine on the Middlebury College campus this year, it was Madeleine whom Gerry asked to suggest a good local attorney. The governor obliged. The case is pending.
More relevantly, perhaps, during her term in office, the state has added 200 employees to the public payroll. The state's minimum wage was increased. Vermont state government spending has increased at three times the rate of inflation. Yet, in this election year, Kunin is advocating more spending. She probably has to, with socialist Sanders nipping at her left flank.
She is favored to win reelection. And the Republicans?
"They are in disarray right now," says former mayor Romano, "and they sorely need to regroup." The mayor is given to understatement.
The reluctant Republican candidate is 40-year-old Peter Smith, the current lieutenant governor, who ironically had been beaten by Kunin for that very slot back in 1978. Smith is the consummate preppy: Phillips Academy, Princeton, and two postgraduate Harvard degrees. "I'm a privileged person," he admits without moving his lips. "I gave up denying that a long time ago."
Smith just might be able to offer a free-market alternative to the two other candidates. He may be able to adopt a platform of reduced state spending and less state interference in business. He may be able to recant his previous advocacy of raising the sales tax and come out for lower state taxes.
Almost certainly, he will not do any of these things. The timing is wrong. This is the year of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings—not Peter Smith.
The federal deficit-cutting measure promises to lay waste to Vermont. In per capita federal funding, Vermont ranks fifth in the nation. Federal funds account for 35 percent of the state's operating budget. For Smith to run as a fiscal conservative is to be associated with layoffs, cut-backs, less government…in other words, reality. For 20 years, Vermonters have voted their fantasies, their wishes, and their emotions. It's foolish to expect that they will behave differently this year.
Jim McIntosh is the editor of Magnetic North magazine and is currently working on a book about water-pollution legislation.
They came on Friday June 22, 1984, at 6:24 A.M. when the children were still in their pajamas. Watched by 50 social workers from Vermont's Department of Human Services, 90 state troopers knocked on the doors of 20 houses in the village of Island Pond (pop. 1,200). The troopers were armed and wore bullet-proof vests.
Bearing search warrants signed by District Court Judge Joseph Wolchik, the police entered the homes. They encountered no resistance. The police ordered 112 children and 111 adults to get dressed, and then led them out into the street where four buses and four vans were waiting. The adults carried bibles.
"I'm confused about this illegal thing being done," said one man as he boarded a bus. "May the Lord be glorified in this."
The buses rolled out of town, heading northwest…
An hour later, the buses carrying the members of the Northeast Kingdom Community Church reached the city armory in Newport, Vermont. The children were taken from the buses and into the armory gymnasium.
Each child was photographed three times. The parents, some of whom refused to give their names to state officials, were told that the children would be released only if they "cooperated."
Meanwhile, defense lawyers had begun to congregate at the county courthouse across the street from the armory. The state's attorney informed them that many allegations of child abuse had been received by his office.
For 18 months, the investigation of these allegations by social workers and law enforcement officials had been stymied by the sect's secretive practices. It was impossible to obtain data because church doctrine did not permit members to enroll their children in public schools. Neither did the church officially register births or deaths among its membership.
The children were being detained, the attorney said, "as evidence…."
After being photographed, the first group of children were taken across the street to the courthouse. Their case went before District Court Judge Frank Mahady at 1:30 P.M.
The Vermont state's attorney requested a blanket order of detention to hold the children for 72 hours. He explained that state officials had made arrangements to confine the children in comfortable quarters at Burke Mountain Ski Area, a nearby resort. There, doctors and psychologists would examine them for signs of abuse and neglect.
Police disclosed that a search of the Island Pond homes had yielded paddles and sticks that could have been used to assault the children. Also found were some articles that might have been employed in the illegal practice of medicine.
Outside the courthouse, a local attorney compared the raid to "a Nazi pogrom in Poland," adding, "You're seeing child abuse here today in its worst form."
By 9:30 P.M., Judge Mahady had dismissed 40 cases, continued the rest, and imposed a gag order on everybody involved. In a tremendous blow to the state's governor and attorney general, he refused to issue the blanket order of detention. By 11:45 P.M., the last of the children boarded a bus to return to Island Pond.
Not one case of child abuse or neglect was uncovered in the 1984 raid on the Northeast Kingdom Community Church. Eighteen allegations were eventually dropped. Two subsequent investigations failed to reveal any wrongdoing.
Eight months after the raid, church member Melody Cantrell told a state Senate panel that children in Island Pond continued to have nightmares about the dawn raid, adding, "My children were damaged."
In January 1986, Judge Wolchik, who had issued the search warrants for the raid on Island Pond, sentenced a three-time convicted felon to the care of the Northeast Kingdom Community Church. On this occasion the judge said, "I don't see this as any different than a probation with 80 hours of community service for Father Flanagan's Boys Town."
Governor Kunin, incidentally, has yet to appoint that special commission to investigate the raid.
Ex-Governor Snelling, who ordered the raid, is running for the US Senate.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Green Mountain Blues".