Thursday, October 4, 2007

October News From Alderman Sam

Alderman Shropshire's October newsletter made its way to my inbox this morning, and some of my comments regarding its contents will make their way to these pages right now.

Never has it been so difficult for the American family. It's like we're besieged from every direction.

Today our family loyalties are divided as never before.

Perhaps this is just a pet peeve of mine and it's not as important as I might make it out to be, but enough with the superlatives. Let's take the American family of 200 years ago...they didn't have electricity. Or cars. Or bathrooms! That situation would have been more difficult--less complex--but more difficult.

Every time someone tries to sell you a bill of goods, they use superlatives, and I hate it:

"It has never been so difficult for the American family."
"Mortgage rates have never been higher."
"There has never been a better time to buy."

I would be much happier with the advertisement: "This is a reasonably good time to buy, provided you can afford it, and if the product is useful for you." Ahh, how nice. Nonetheless, Alderman Sam's letter advocates more family time, which is surely a good thing.

The letter continues to pursue support for Mr. Shropshire's bill to ban plastic bags, and this visual was used as persuasion:

A bit sensational if you ask me. Alarmingly, Alderman Sam claims broad support for his proposed ban:

The legislation has strong support from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, the Sierra Club of Anne Arundel County, the Alliance for Sustainable Communities, EarthEcho (the Cousteau family), the Audubon Society, Oceana, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and other environmental organizations.

But here is evidence to the contrary. The last I heard, these organizations praise the motive, but advise other ways to focus our efforts that are more effective:

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."

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."

On a positive note, Alderman Sam favors strengthening nuisance laws:

Also, I requested a City Council study session with the Annapolis Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. I will be requesting stricter enforcement of laws and stiffer penalties for serving underage drinkers and for over-serving other restaurant/bar patrons.

If underage drinkers, late night hooligans, and law-ignoring bars were all dealt with appropriately, maybe the law-abiding bars could have some reasonable privileges.

The political debates will certainly be interesting.

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