The old saying is that “all politics is local.” We’ve seen some very tangible evidence of the truth of that saying here in Stonington, Maine.
Last night there was a public hearing at the Stonington Town Hall about food trucks. It’s a hot issue here for the small business owners. There’s a limited “summer season” in Stonington when local businesses hope to sell their wares to tourists and visitors enjoying the sunny but not-too-hot weather, and also a limited amount of four-hour on-street parking in the “downtown” area that those tourists and visitors can use. Business owners are concerned that food trucks can come and use those precious spots for the full four hours, potentially making parking a challenge and causing a visitor to pass their business by. And the restaurants, all of which are locally owned businesses, aren’t happy with the idea of food trucks swooping in and taking away customers.
Stonington doesn’t have an ordinance governing food trucks. Should there be one, and if so what should it say? Last night the town’s Board of Selectmen heard from the public on the issues, and now they’ll decide.
And sometimes the politics is even more local — specifically, about one person with a piece of cardboard and a magic marker. The sign below was posted on a telephone pole just at the eastern entrance to the downtown area. Not knowing anything about the “whale rules” that the sign mentioned, I did a Google search and learned that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has promulgated a proposed rule to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale. NOAA believes that the whales are at risk of death or injury from entanglement in the many buoy lines that connect lobster traps on the ocean floor to their buoy markers on the surface, The new proposed rule would require Maine lobstermen to remove half of their vertical buoy lines in the water — which means directly reducing the potential catch. In a town like Stonington, where many people are self-employed in the lobster industry, that’s a federal rule that could potentially have an enormous and direct impact on the town. Public hearings on the rule will begin soon, and Maine’s congressional delegation has appealed to President Trump to quash the proposed rule. They argue that there really isn’t evidence that the lobster buoy lines are responsible for the decline in the right whale population.
That hand-lettered sign just outside of town got my attention, and made me look into an issue that i wasn’t aware of before. It just shows the impact of a little local politicking.