Waiting for the next shoe (or the last laugh)

dogblog--erBREAKING NEWS:

Epidemic Overwhelms ER at Scarborough General Hospital!

Following the Town Council Workshop and Meeting of February 19, Scarborough General Hospital’s Emergency Room was overwhelmed with cases of self-inflicted second-degree pinches and puncture wounds.  “People were pinching themselves so hard and jabbing themselves with sharp objects just to make sure they weren’t dreaming,” said ER director Florence Barton.

The apparent willingness of some members of the Town Council to listen to reason on a revised animal control ordinance left many dog owners in disbelief.  “I jabbed myself with a knitting needle while I sat at home watching the recording of the Council meeting,” recounted Teresa Defarge, a Pine Point resident.  “I thought for sure I was hallucinating,” added Defarge.

“It seemed too good to be true,” noted Rudd Weatherwax a frequent dog walker on Higgins Beach with his dog, Pal.  After being treated and released for a nasty self-inflicted pinch on his forearm, Weatherwax was philosophical… and cautious.  “With this bunch, you never know,” he said.

In addition to the ER staff, the Hospital’s mental health unit was gearing up for possible action.  “We’ve seen situations with the Town Council like this before,” said Hermann Rohrschach, MD, PhD, CBM, director of Psychiatry at the Hospital.  “They seem to be heading down one path and then, BAM!, they change directions and go down a completely different one.  Emotionally, it’s very hard on the folks who are actually paying attention to what’s going on,” he added.

Based on past experiences with the Council, Rohrschach has put all Hospital mental health providers on the staff on standby alert.  “The last thing we want,” he said, “is a bunch of folks hurling themselves into the muck at Co-op Beach in an attempt to end it all.”  Rohrschach also notified Maine Medical Center’s P6 to be prepared for a spike in admissions.

Even More Enforcement Lip Service

One thing almost everyone concerned with the plovers/dogs/beaches issue agreed on was that the Town of Scarborough has done a poor job of enforcing the relevant ordinances since the last overhaul in 2004.   All the members of the AHACAC agreed that something has to be done about enforcement going forward.

So here was their golden opportunity to make some substantive recommendations of what an enforcement program might look like… you know, something along the lines of:  “a uniformed officer should visit each beach at least three times a week during the summer season on a random basis to educate, warn and issue violations.”  Or something like that with real specificity.  And real costs associated with the program.  And suggestions on how to pay for that program (increased dog license fees or beach pass fees or whatever).

 But what did we get in the AHACAC Final Report?

 “Enhanced focus on Education and Enforcement

ACTION:   Refer to staff and On-Going Committee for implementation”

In other words, nothing will change.  The next ten years of enforcement will be as ineffective as the last ten.  The only way there will be any sort of real enforcement is if the Council directs the Finance Committee to increase the Police Department budget to allow for x hours of dedicated beach patrols every week during the summer months.  Otherwise it’s just so many words blowing in the wind, much like the “in-title-only” piping plover coordinator the Town has supposedly had for the past couple of years.  Without a Council-directed increase to the Police Department budget for beach enforcement activities, the Department will be forced to prioritize resources in a manner that continues to shortchange those activities.

Well, perhaps not this much enforcement...

Well, perhaps not this much enforcement…

Town Council members, please make sure something happens this time – specify and fund the beach enforcement program!

 Musings of an Ironymonger

There is one maxim that those of us in the irony business take very seriously: “He who laughs last, laughs best.”  We know that there may well be interim laughs along the way, but it’s the final laugh that really counts.  Up until recently, I thought it was a foregone conclusion that, as of April 1, the Town Council would be having the next laugh as they gleefully implemented the “”Fish and Wildlife” ordinance.  But rumblings at the workshop and Council meeting on February 19 gave a faint glimmer of hope that reason…and the will of the people… might actually prevail.  Perhaps that was just a ploy to soften us up.  Time will tell.  In the meantime, we’ll have to adhere to the wisdom of another adage: “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.”  Or, perhaps in this case, until the next referendum occurs.

And while we’re in the Irony Department, one of the most fascinating results of the post-AHACAC discussion was Lucy LaCasse’s quote in the Current after hearing the Council’s discussion of the Committee’s report: “It’s a little frustrating,” she said. “It feels like, ‘Why did we bother?’”  I forget in which of the Ad Hoc Committee meetings it occurred, but Katy Foley made an eerily similar statement.  So, at different points in the proceedings, both sides have expressed exactly the same frustration.  Now that’s irony for you.

USFWS Strikes Again!  Saco Residents, Prepare Yourselves!

Those staunch defenders of the piping plovers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are at it again!  And right down the beach in Saco!  Our good friend, Laury Zicari, has effectively put the kibosh on another US Army Corps of Engineers’ project.  And this one may even be more outrageous than our experience in Scarborough.

It seems that the Corps of Engineers has developed a plan to build a jetty at Camp Ellis to prevent people’s houses from being washed into the great Atlantic Ocean.  But, hang on here a minute… this project might adversely affect the Sacred Bird!  We can’t have that, now can we?  Too bad for you folks who are going to have your homes washed away.  Your interests get ZERO weight in the USFWS evaluation of the project.  C’est la vie!

Aerial view of Camp Ellis Beach.  (US ARmy Corps of Engineers)

Aerial view of Camp Ellis Beach. (US Army Corps of Engineers)

For the details of this incredible story, click here.

Ms. Zicari’s letter spelling out the objections to the project may be found here.

One of the many possible adverse effects of the proposed project specified by Ms. Zicari is: “Incorrect sand grain or color” might be used in the beach nourishment aspect of the project.  Who knew the Sacred Bird had such a well-developed aesthetic sense…

dogblog--two plovers

Western Beach Closed… Half-heartedly

dogblog--western bch -02-14

Even Sister Mary Catherine (my 3rd grade Sunday School teacher) probably wouldn’t be deterred by this level of beach closure warning.

With the harbor dredge and associated “beach nourishment” now in high gear, Western Beach is sort of closed.   Understandably, the dredge folks don’t want a bunch of civilians and their dogs in close proximity to the work area.  As one of the crew told me before the “keep out” signs went up at Ferry Rock, if one of those 14” PVC pipes ruptured while the pumping was happening, you could get nastily sand blasted.  Truth be told, I doubt there’s really much danger of one of the pipes rupturing, but a lot of pedestrians plying the beach while heavy machinery is operating there would be hazardous.


dogblog--shocking fact

Until next time, enjoy the beaches responsibly!

6 thoughts on “Waiting for the next shoe (or the last laugh)

  1. Liam

    We have a phrase to describe Mrs. zicari, I believe that phrase is “Batsh!t crazy”. Much like the rest of the USF&W nutjobs that prioritize a species of bird (that isn’t even that interested in nesting here) over humans.

    1. tthannah Post author

      I feel your frustration over this situation. It’s as if a wave of lunacy has broken over us and is washing us (and certain homes at Camp Ellis) out to sea. At the same time, I think it’s important to temper any ad hominem rhetoric and realize that the folks at USFWS are just doing what they’ve been hired to do — no matter how outlandish it seems to many of us. It took years of incremental daftness to accumulate at USFWS for it to reach the current state of disconnectedness with the real world. We need to maintain a respectful attitude toward the individuals who find themselves speaking for that organization as we attempt to reverse the daftness. Our tools need to be reason and light, or we risk having our message ignored or rejected by the public.

  2. Mary Beth Nolette

    Could you please get that list of “accomplishments” printed in the leader? It’s an easily understood summary for those of us who are not immersed in the process. It is a concise list containing the blaring lack of available science and resources used to make decisions regarding dogs on the beaches in Scarborough.

    1. tthannah Post author

      Thanks for your comment. Glad you found the list helpful. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pull at the Leader. I notify their reporter when new entries are posted to the blog, but that’s about it. If you would like to submit the list or a version thereof to the Leader (or anywhere else), that would be fantastic. The more different ways we get our message to folks, the better!

  3. R Woodburn

    I cannot understand how the town council would vote on this issue without having all the supporting documentation concerning the plover incident, and why this ordinance is needed.
    There appears to be a lot of missing information.

    1. tthannah Post author

      The Council’s refusal to demand full documentation of the plover incident is, indeed, astonishing. Perhaps even negligent. And, as you also correctly point out, the facts do not support the need for a revised ordinance. Should the Town be forced into another referendum on this issue, I believe those two points will convince voters that our current ordinance (or a minor tweaking of it) is perfectly adequate. Let’s hope the Council doesn’t put the Town through another divisive referendum process. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this.


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