Progress made, but charade continues

dogblog-jambi and text

All members of the Maine Association of Psychics and Soothsayers are reminded of the rapidly approaching deadline for submitting your renewal examination for calendar 2014.  If you have not completed the examination (provided below), please do so and submit it to MAPS headquarters on the Pier at OOB by 5pm on Monday, January 13, 2014.  Members who do not achieve a passing grade on this exam will not be recertified for 2014.

 EXAM QUESTIONS:

1.      Thinking ahead to the AHACAC meeting on the evening of January 13, 2014, what will be the vote in favor of the main recommendations of the Committee:

a.       4 to 3

b.       5 to 3 (with Town Manager Hall getting a vote after all)

c.      Outlook not so good

2.      Thinking ahead to the Town Council meeting on the evening of February 5, 2014, which of the following points will Town Manager Hall make in his introductory remarks about the AHACAC’s work and recommendations (check all that apply):

a.       This very talented and committed group worked incredibly hard at the assigned task.

b.      There was a transparent and fair process for selecting the Committee members.

c.       All or nearly all of the Committee members were current or former dog owners thereby making the entire process 100% legit.

d.      None of the Committee members had their minds made up prior to the first meeting of the Committee.

e.       The Committee’s schedule was such that all of the information presented could not possibly have been thoroughly reviewed and discussed.

3.      Again thinking ahead to the Town Council meeting on the evening of February 5, 2014, the vote to accept the AHACAC’s majority recommendations will be:

a.       4 to 3

b.      5 to 2

c.       6 to 1

d.      4 to 2 with one member not present due to a previously scheduled duck hunting engagement

Meeting #3 of the AHACAC

The third meeting of the AHACAC was held on Thursday evening, January 9.  I think a fair one sentence summary would be: “The charade continued to play out.”  At least this time there was some real exchange of ideas and bits and pieces of agreement.  For a balanced and comprehensive account of the meeting, please see Duke Harrington’s article in the Currenthttp://www.keepmecurrent.com/current/news/scarborough-plover-policy-fails-to-take-flight/article_6b51b074-7a37-11e3-be98-0019bb2963f4.html

Two suggested solutions in particular are noteworthy.  Professor Perlut suggested the “Co-op beach” on Pine Point as an option for dog walking at any time due to its plover-free nature.  And Councilor Donovan added his imprimatur, perhaps because it’s as far away from Higgins Beach as possible.  I wonder why even the plovers can’t be bothered with the Co-op beach?

The other proposal that received some attention was Ms. Chabot’s.  I must say it sounded quite sensible to me… except for one key feature.  The proposal was basically for the establishment of an Animal Control Committee (note: not a piping plover committee, but an animal control committee) and a two-year study of beach policies on education, enforcement, data collection, etc.  Perfectly reasonable except for one big old fly in the ointment — during the two-year study/improvement period, the US Fish and Wildlife ordinance would be in place.  You know, just like the Town voted for overwhelmingly in December.  Oh, wait…

The meeting ended on a rather sour note as a motion to request a one-week extension from the Town Council was voted down 4 to 3.  Gotta keep this ball rolling.  We wouldn’t want facts to get in the way or encourage better mutual understanding.  USFWS MUST BE OBEYED!  DOGS BE GONE!

 Good grief.  Expect more of the same Monday evening, January 13 at 6:30-9:00pm.

[Editor's note: Puritan minister graphic to indicate seriousness of what follows.]

[Editor’s note: Puritan minister graphic to indicate seriousness of what follows.]

 

 

 

 

In all seriousness…

Allow me, Dear Reader, to stray from my usual format and speak seriously for a moment.  I promise that it will be a brief aberration.

Although this blog attempts to treat the current controversy in an entertaining manner, the issues themselves are serious.  Indeed, extremely serious.  Yesterday I submitted a serious proposal to the AHACAC suggesting a partial solution to the current disagreement about the Town’s policy on beach access, particularly as it relates to dogs and piping plovers.  I will not bore you with the entire document, but the main points were that the AHACAC’s recommendations should include:

  • Establishment of a publicly-elected Beach Committee to advise the Council on future beach management and access issues.  We need to restore public trust in the Town’s governance processes.  It is sadly lacking at the moment.  And we currently have an elected Sanitary District Board; don’t our beaches deserve as much public attention as our sewer system?
  •  A two-year study/review/improvement period during which a committee would be charged with responsibility for education, enforcement and data collection, as well as making recommendations to the Town Council on those matters.  This is essentially as suggested by Ms. Chabot.
  • During the two-year period, the existing animal control ordinance would remain in effect, with any additions unanimously agreed to by the AHACAC. This reflects the outcome of the December 3, 2013 special election.  It has been suggested that some number of “no” voters may have voted that way because they thought the Council’s October 3 stealth amendment “went too far.”   But the undeniable fact is that when they voted “no,” they knew we would be returning to the original ordinance.  If piping plover protection were their main goal, they should have voted yes and then lobbied the Council to correct the overreach.  You can’t have it both ways.
  •  The outline of a detailed enforcement plan.  We have heard over and over again that the Town’s past enforcement efforts have been sadly lacking. And yet I have still not seen any specifics proposed for an enforcement plan going forward.   My plan, offered merely as a starting point, calls for a total of 50 hours per week of uniformed presence on the beaches from April 1 through August 31.  These “beach patrol officers” would be scheduled in a way that permitted a minimum of 30 minutes presence (on an unpredictable schedule) on each beach once between 6 and 9am and once between 6 and 9pm every day.  These officers would work closely with the volunteer civilian beach monitoring groups and perform any “heavy lifting” in the enforcement area.  The officers would be funded by a combination of increased dog license fees, beach pass fees and special off-leash dog permits if necessary.

I believe these suggestions will provide a reasonable framework for addressing the serious — but not crisis level — concerns surrounding the limited summer off-leash time for dogs and the protection of piping plovers.  I also firmly believe that it is the responsibility of the citizens of Scarborough to set beach access policies, not a Federal or State agency.

And now back to work…

Preparing the S.S. Electrolux for launching at Ferry Beach.

Preparing the S.S. Electrolux for launching at Ferry Beach.

Dredge Update

Work is beginning in earnest on the dredge with the activity centered at the Ferry Beach parking lot.  They are in the process of assembling the S.S. Electrolux, the floating pump mechanism that will suck all that goop off the bottom of the channel and spray it oh-so-gently on Western Beach.  Ahh, I can feel the good vibes of re-nourishment already!

…..

Neighbor-of-the-Year Nomination Withdrawn

dogblog-mr rogers

At Thursday evening’s meeting of the AHACAC, Mr. Donovan very kindly offered up Old Orchard Beach as an alternative beach that Scarborough residents could use after he and the Council close our beaches to off-leash dogs from April through August.  In other words, shift the problem (if off-leash dogs are in fact a problem) to another Town.  Isn’t he the essence of neighborliness?  You gotta love it!

By the way, we have it on good authority that the Naked Surfers of New England are planning to hold their 2014 summer convention at Higgins Beach on the July Fourth weekend.  Included in the festivities are a let-it-all-hang-out paddleboard regatta up the Spurwink River.   Arrive early for the best viewing spots.

……….

Next/Last AHACAC Meeting: Monday, Jan 13, 6:30pm at Town Hall.  See you there.

Thanks again for reading this.  Please share with friends.  It’s amazing how far a little information can go.

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5 thoughts on “Progress made, but charade continues

  1. Caroline Ahonen

    I read this twice just so I could laugh again. Thanks for doing this blog. Any chance of you running for council – I like your point about Lucy’s no vote – I never thought of it that way – we need a smart person on the council, someone capable of reigning in Tom Hall.

    Reply
    1. tthannah Post author

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the blog. My only desire (and it’s a heartfelt one) is that the reason for me writing it would go away — that is, the unwillingness of a few to let us enjoy the beach with our dogs in a responsible manner. Me run for Council? No way! And have to deal with people like me? You gotta be kidding! By the way, I don’t think we have a shortage of smart people on the Council — more like a shortage of people who are willing and able to listen to the people. I actually feel sorry for Tom Hall — he works for the Council. Can you imagine getting up every morning and having to go to work for them? (And to be clear, I’m sure most of them are decent people who have just misunderstood what the voters expect of them.)

      Reply
  2. Caroline Ahonen

    While I was walking my dogs today I realized I said reign in instead of rein in. But I wanted to clarify that I don’t necessarily think Tom Hall is a bad guy – I do think however that he feels very responsible to guide this council in the way they should go, maybe that is his job, I don’t know, as I am not familiar enough with local political structures to know. I do believe he was disappointed the USFW ordinance was not in acted as was the council’s original intent and now this headache continues. Smart people get things quickly, so many people on this council are not smart. Tom Hall is smart, but he is not entirely on our side. I still think you are a reasonable candidate from the DOGS group to run for council, if you have the time. We need somebody to run, that’s for sure.

    Reply

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