Cheers and jeers from around the news:

• Jeers to arson at the topless coffee shop in Vassalboro. The savage firebug who sparked the blaze put the lives of seven people in jeopardy, including two infants. If this was an attempt to convey a message of morality, it went horribly awry. The only message sent is one of ignorance and contempt.

The topless coffee experience isn’t for everyone. Bare skin doesn’t make java taste better. Yet in our society of laws, the shop had a right to exist. It violated no regulations, broke no rules and conducted its business in a forthright manner, whether one agreed with its business or not.

If done for moral reasons, whoever burned the shop probably thought they were correcting an injustice, while actually committing one. Abiding by their own rules, they placed themselves above the rule of law, while putting an entrepreneur out of business and his employees out of jobs.

And they totally, completely and utterly failed to make their point.

• Jeers to the closing of the Otis Mill in Livermore Falls and Jay. This mill was the seed from which International Paper sprouted, which forever altered the course of development in Maine. Although the IP heyday is long over, the Otis Mill’s survival remained a testament to that era.

Its closure should reverberate with decision makers more than it has. A few months ago, the chief executive of Verso, which owns the Androscoggin Mill in Jay, met with Gov. John Baldacci and the media to discuss ideas to help the paper industry. It was – in the history of paper – a unique moment.

Gov. Baldacci has walked through enough closing mills to know this industry is facing troubles. When it asks for help, then, policymakers should listen. Some of Verso’s ideas – especially in the realm of higher education – would pay dividends far beyond the industry.

Whatever happens now won’t be enough to save Otis. But it might prevent the next one.

• Cheers to news that lawmakers may – finally! – establish an off-session committee to craft a comprehensive casino gaming policy for the state. This is only about six years overdue.

The final word on gaming hasn’t been said, not as long as Maine has citizen-initiative laws. The state is better served taking the progressive approach to gambling, by outlining the rules for its existence here, before an initiative makes those rules for it. (Just like what could have happened last year.)

• And finally, cheers to Tony Bachelder of Buckfield, whose bee business is being jeopardized by light towers on the town-owned ball field near his home. He’s offered a reasonable compromise as a solution to this quagmire: he’ll buy the field and move the lights.

Who knows how this scenario would have played out in Vassalboro.


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