“I’m not going to fight the government.”

A Christmas miracle?

dogs-christmas miracle

For a few brief minutes yesterday evening, the unthinkable seemed possible: the Scarborough Town Council appeared to be on the verge of listening to the common-sense pleas of the Town’s citizens.  Were we to have our own little Christmas miracle?  Yes, they actually considered extending the wildly unrealistic deadline they had suggested for the new “Ad Hoc Animal Control Advisory Committee” to complete its work – 21 business days amid three holidays to craft a reasonable response to a complex, highly charged issue.  But, no, the esteemed Council members reverted to their true form and nixed the proposed extension.  Apparently 21 days is plenty of time to ram through a predetermined outcome while still preserving the appearance of fair public input.  Councilor Donovan thought 21 days was sufficient.

Councilor St. Clair made a plea that the public name names when questioning Councilors’  statements and positions.  I think she’s right.  Voting against the one-month extension of the deadline were Councilors Benedict, Blaise and Donovan.  That resulted in a 3-3 tie, so the extension amendment was defeated.  Council Chair Sullivan was not present at last night’s meeting.  The last time he was not present – when a 3-3 tie caused the Council not to reconsider their dubious all-leashes, all-the-time amendment – then-Council chair Ahlquist reported that Mr. Sullivan was moose hunting.

More of the same

The Council’s discussion and action Wednesday evening confirmed once again their starting point for any possible modifications  of the animal control ordinance – the US Fish and Wildlife Service is in charge of our beaches. Since a few piping plover families have popped in to spend the summer season on our beaches, the Council has essentially turned over setting access policies for our beaches to a Federal agency.  This is in spite of three important factors:

  •   No Council member has seen the Maine Warden Service report on the alleged death of a piping plover chick on July 15.  Yes, the Town basically entered a guilty plea without seeing the evidence.  How irresponsible is that?
  • The legal basis for the USFWS’s Notice of Violation to the Town is questionable.  Dueling high-priced lawyers disagree on this point, but that’s often the case.
  • The Council refuses to consider the option of simply paying the possibly reinstated $12,000 fine and move on with defining how Scarborough residents want to balance beach access rules with threatened species protection.

(One quick reminder that cannot be repeated often enough – having dogs on leashes is not the USFWS’s preferred method of “protecting” piping plovers from dogs.  They would much prefer no dogs at all on beaches all summer.  Period.  Do not take the word of a jaundiced observer (me) on this… look at what happened at Western Beach this past summer.  In order to get the US Army Corps of Engineers to “renourish” the beach, USFWS prevailed upon the Prouts Neck Association to ban all dogs from the beach from April 1 to September 30.  There’s a definite pattern here – USFWS goes town by town, and even beach by beach, and extracts the strongest concessions they can with the minimum amount of effort and public outcry.  Unfortunately, USFWS has found an all too willing accomplice in the Scarborough Town Council.)

See just how close we are to that slippery slope!

See just how close we are to that slippery slope!

In their own words…

Councilor Blaise

Councilor Blaise

The crowd of about 25 dog supporters  was remarkably quiet, restrained and well-behaved considering the Council’s continuing determination to ignore the will of the people.

Councilor Blaise, however, drew major guffaws with his statement that he hadn’t seen any other solutions regarding the plover issue.

He also made the statement of the night: “I’m not going to fight the government.”  That crisp sentiment, which appears to be shared by at least three other Councilors, is at the very heart of the problem.  Councilor Blaise and others are willing – no, anxious – to cede control of access to Scarborough’s   beaches to a Federal agency.  Many of us are not.



EXCLUSIVE: Late Breaking News…

dogsblog-ppl adv

6 thoughts on ““I’m not going to fight the government.”

  1. James Benedict

    It is to bad you don’t understand the problem nor the solution’You only have a one sided attitude toward the whole thing.Very closed minded and presenting things ass backwards.Please continue in a proper, honest and reasonable way . We are trying to do whats fait and reasonable even if you dont agree

  2. Phillip LaRou Jr

    I think that Mr. Benedict needs to tell us his understanding of the issue and what his solutions would be. It seems that the council has a understanding of the “problem” that they really have not shared with us. What are they hiding from the people of Scarborough? If it’s that bad then they need to come clean and let us know their reason for a total ban, town-wide of dogs being able to have some off leash time. Would love to hear from him.

    1. tthannah Post author

      I couldn’t agree more. Several Council members appear to have a very different understanding of “the problem” than many of the people of Scarborough, including the 73% who voted down the ambush amendment on December 3. I was hoping that the Ad Hoc Animal Control Advisory Committee process was going to include an opportunity for actual public DIALOGUE on the issue, but, alas, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s timetable doesn’t allow time for that. We need to keep the spotlight on the Council’s actions so that the citizens of Scarborough will see just how unresponsive they are to the will of the people. Plus, we need some thoughtful, principled folks to run for the November (or earlier?) Council openings.

  3. Liam

    Councilor Benedict simply reflects the ignorance of the entire council. They are willfully opposing the voters and pushing the Fast Forward button to get the outcome they so desperately desire. I find it almost comical that Benedict has the nerve to suggest the council has been “proper, honest, or reasonable” in any of this.

    The council needs to be overturned and voted out of office in it’s entirety. That’s the only “Reasonable” thing to do at this point.

    1. tthannah Post author

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, there’s little doubt that the Councilors (or at least most of them) are trying to push their personal agenda through while the good folks of Scarborough are all settled down for a long winter’s nap. It’s up to all of us to shine that cleansing light of public attention on their games.

      One thing that truly has surprised me is the lack of an impression the December 3 vote apparently had on the Councilors. The “no” votes (i.e., a strong repudiation of a Council action) were 2,880. Yet only a month before — at a general election, no less — Donovan was elected with 2,177 votes and Caterina with 2,065 votes. I wouldn’t think you would need a high-priced political analyst to translate those results into an adjusted action plan. But it was “full speed ahead” for the Council with the charade committee driven by the phony USFWS schedule. I really question their political instincts. (And I STILL wonder why Councilor Ahlquist called it quits.)

      1. Caroline Ahonen

        I think Ahlquist was smart enough to know that this is a political doomsday for the council (and Tom Hall) if the DOGS group doesn’t get tired and give up this fight.

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