Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Public Hearing, July 23

AP arrived at the public hearing around 6:45 with full intentions of staying for the whole thing. Alas, midway through the plastic bag testimony--around 9:45--I determined that staying any longer would be a detriment to my lifestyle. Nonetheless, I will now recount selected events of the evening.

+Overwhelming testimony was given in support of a proposed development on Annapolis Neck Rd. (R 37-07) Basically, some long-time property owners want to sell their properties to a developer, who in turn will erect affordable workforce housing. Admittedly I do not know the background on this issue, partly because it has been ongoing for 6 years. Seems like they have a pretty darn good argument, provided they can adequately show that allowing their area en exemption will not open the floodgates for everyone else to try and get special exceptions.

+The election code review committee presented their findings. I will devote an entire later post to this issue.

+A bill to allow the proposed triathlon was voted on...I will post on this as well.

+John Hammond, the Anne Arundel County Budget Officer and my roommate's father, challenged the council not to give themselves raises because they don't deserve it. Upon hearing this, alderwoman Hoyle shrewdly quipped "Mr. Hammond, didn't I just read in the paper that you are the highest paid employee in the county?" Quite rude and irrelevant, if you ask me, and if you are reading this blog, you did ask me! (Of note, aldermen should be paid more, but not these aldermen.)

+And for the main event, everybody and their mother wanted to testify on the bill to plan plastic bags. The bill, as it stands, would only ban plastic bags. It would not require the use of reusable bags. I did not hear anybody speak that was entirely for the bill (if somebody stayed longer than I did and heard such a support, email me). The closest anybody got to supporting the bill was saying something like "I applaud your idea and this is a step to help, but there are more effective things we can be doing." I will now present you with some quotes of actual testimony given:

Sierra Club of A.A. County: "This is not a solution; the best solution is reusable bags."

Alice Ferguson Foundation: "Plastic bags are not the most important problem...we should focus on education."

Progressive Bag Alliance: "Paper bags are worse for the environment. Plastic bags are 100% recyclable. We need to increase focus on recycling."

Maryland Retailers Association: "This legislation goes too far and doesn't achieve what he (Alderman Shropshire) wants. Plastic bags don't litter--people litter! Citizen education is more important, and we need to enforce the litter laws that we already have."

(Note to readers: AP was so refreshingly impressed by the comments made by the Maryland Retailers Association, that he immediately mailed a donation check for $20 to the organization. Focusing on the PEOPLE that cause problems and enforcing laws that we already have can solve so many problems.)

Restaurant Association of Maryland: "Behavior is the culprit here."

Sveinn Storm: "In 3 decades of working downtown, I have never seen a citation issued for littering. But there are plenty of paid city employees who clean up the trash."

Giant Food (The awesome grocer that AP uses): "We started using plastic bags 30 years ago due to environmental pressure to stop cutting down trees!"..."Why don't we ban cars because they speed?"

Safeway: "A ban is Un-American--it takes away our right to choose."..."This bill is illogical; it lacks full thought and common sense."..."No other jurisdiction has banned plastic bags."

Alderman Sam Shropshire: "Our emphasis is on reusable."

Note: No it's not. Not the way the bill is written.

Both liberals and conservatives are pro-environment. The difference is: liberals want to punish the entire industry from which the problem stems. Conservatives would rather encourage progress, deal with the problem INDIVIDUALS, and work for a solution that allows plastic bags (or anything else) to be used. The car analogy above was a good one. Any product, if used by an evil person, can be problematic. You don't punish freedom, or capitalism--you deal with the evil in that person.