Last Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott put in a day behind the counter (and in the kitchen) at the Crazy Russian Girl Bakery in Bennington. It was the latest installment of his ongoing series of publicity stunts, which he calls the Vermont Jobs Tour.
But wait: it’s not just a cheap way to get yourself in the local birdcage liner. “I learn something on every single job,” he says. As an example, he finally figured out the difference between “T” and “t”.
Now we know how often he helps out around the kitchen at home.
While he was there, the distinguished occupier of Vermont’s Bucket of Warm Spit dispensed some deep thoughts about Bennington’s economic woes.
Scott said Bennington has some unique advantages which double as challenges, one being its proximity to New York and Massachusetts. The state as a whole must find a way to compete with New York, which has done a good job of promoting itself, and New Hampshire, which lacks a sales tax, Scott says.
“Would you like some boilerplate with your bagel, sir? We sliced it extra thin today.”
Scott offered the second-hand observation that tourism is a little slow down Bennington way. He noted that some have blamed the Bennington Bypass for routing traffic away from downtown. His suggestion? “Signage actually helps a lot.”
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Here’s the thing. Phil Scott is a statewide officeholder who draws a salary from taxpayer funds. He is a politician with serious aspirations of running for governor. He schedules a visit to Bennington. And he couldn’t be bothered with doing a little research? Learning more about Bennington, putting some thought into it, coming up with some relevant, insightful suggestions?
Signage, my Aunt Fanny.
It’s surprising to me that a guy who makes his living as a road builder wouldn’t mention Bennington’s #1 economic problem: its remoteness in our highway infrastructure. Driving to Bennington from just about anywhere else is a slow crawl on two-lane roads that run through every village and hamlet along the way. The roads between Bennington and Albany are a particular nightmare. That’s an annoyance for tourists and travelers; it’s a deal-breaker for businesses that depend on surface transportation.
Here’s a suggestion for the next stop on his Vermont Jobs Tour. Maybe he could be Governor for a day. He might learn something about political leadership and responsibility, about the necessity to try to find solutions to our problems. Plus, he might discover whether he really wants the job on a full-time basis. Judging by the bland nothings he offered Bennington, his heart might not be in it.