- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 27, 2000

Noble: Brandon Silveria, for overcoming severe physical limitations and helping adolescents learn to drink responsibly. For Brandon Silveria one dumb decision smashed the lives of those who love him and nearly killed him. Now Mr. Silveria has dedicated his life to helping high school students avoid his mistake. For this, he is the noble of the week.

For too many Americans, Mr. Silveria's story is a familiar one. One night, while attending a party, he had a few drinks. He managed to drive a few friends home safely, but while driving alone the alcohol and late hours proved too much for him. He lost control and mangled his car on a tree; his injuries were extensive. Mr. Silveria spent two-and-a-half months in a coma and more than 2 years in rehab. Walking is difficult, and understanding his slurred words is even more difficult. He also has permanent memory damage.

But Mr. Silveria wasn't beaten. With the much-needed help of his father, Mr. Silveria is reaching out to high school students nationwide. He is now a spokesman for the Century Council, a group which is funded by the nation's leading distillers and which promotes responsible drinking. The Council has spent more than $775,000 over eight years for Mr. Silveria to speak at thousands of high schools. This year he is likely to speak to his millionth student.

Many students are hearing his message. National statistics show drinking-related accidents are down. The number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities is down 37 percent since 1982 and the number of youths (under 21) killed in an alcohol related crash is down 57 percent during the same period. These numbers don't tell the whole story, and the reasons for such declines cannot be pinned on one speaker. Yet, Mr. Silveria's words are moving. His informative video, distributed this year to school officials, brings many viewers to tears. In person, students often sob during his lectures.

• Knave: Maryland state prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli, for a politically motivated prosecution of Linda Tripp. The final criminal prosecution in the Lewinsky affair came to an end this week Linda Tripp will not face wiretap charges in Maryland. For Mr. Montanarelli, the state prosecutor in the case, this means history will not remember him as the force that propelled partisan justice to an unjust conviction of a witness against the president. However, it does not save him from being a knave.

Mr. Montanarelli's knavish tendencies surfaced two years ago. It was then when Mrs. Tripp gave sworn testimony that helped unravel Mr. Clinton's biggest scandal. It was also when rumors first surfaced of the prosecutor's intention to charge Mrs. Tripp with illegally taping phone conversations with Monica Lewinsky. Mr. Montanarelli denied these rumors in June, but by July he had filed charges.

Was this a politically motivated prosecution? The facts seem to clearly say so. Mr. Montanarelli, a Democrat, was handed the case after another prosecutor, this one a Republican, recused himself, saying the air was too politically charged to make a fair assessment of the facts. One shocking development was a letter, signed by 49 Democratic state lawmakers, urging the prosecutor's office to file charges. Republican Robert L. Flanagan, Mrs. Tripp's General Assembly representative, immediately began investigating the political pressure put on the prosecutor to push this case. Nothing substantive came of his inquiry. Meanwhile, Mr. Montanarelli further charged the air when he admitted that Mrs. Tripp's federal immunity posed a "problem" but that was something he would consider later.

"Later," it seems, meant after Bill Clinton's enemies were hoisted over the wallows and dropped into the muck. As it turned out, such partisan prosecution has been stymied. Mr. Montanarelli was forced to drop his case after a court threw out most of the testimony to be used by the prosecution. Now it seems Mrs. Tripp will finally be able to climb out of the muck, but thanks to Mr. Montanarelli she may never clean herself of the scandal.

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