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Breaking bread, mending fences An invitation to lunch puts an ugly squabble on the back burner

Has there ever been a more gracious finish to a skunkier political squabble than the one offered this week by Satish B. Mohan? Amherst's supervisor-elect called a merciful end to an ugly dispute that wasn't of his making, while offering a graceful exit to the man who dug them both into a hole. Politicians take note: Thoughtfulness matters.

The dispute is practically legend already. Mohan wanted to speak at a Town Council meeting last week, prompting Councilman William Kindel to unload a mindless rebuke that was steeped in know-nothing arrogance. ("This is how we do things in this country," the councilman said without an inkling of embarrassment.)

Angry residents called on Kindel to resign, a threat whose startling effect was to produce an even more outlandish barrage against Mohan, a self-effacing man whose only provocation was to try to make a public point about a public matter at a public meeting. By Wednesday morning, Kindel seemed in danger of being devoured by his own mouth, which is a neat trick, but probably not in the best interests of Amherst's residents.

Mohan could easily have let Kindel self-destruct. Instead, he invited him to lunch. With reporters present, Mohan signaled his desire to end a stupid dispute while offering the man who caused it a painless way out, undeserved though it was.

It was a class act, and a smart one. It allows Mohan to start his term without a moronic argument raging, while possibly winning him an ally on the Council.

Neither man apologized, but Mohan, who took the high road, had nothing to apologize for. Kindel could have done himself a favor, and shown himself to be equally gracious, by acknowledging his thoughtlessness. He didn't. His call, of course, but voters have taken note.

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