March Madness at Town Council on Monday: Arsenic, marijuana, and skateboarding

The Portsmouth Town Council has a full bracket of PCC-sponsored mayhem on Monday, and I would urge all citizens interested in respect for science, medicine, and the right of our children to play as they wish in our public parks to attend.

Under old business, Paul "Transparancy" Kesson has an agenda item to "request that the Council Direct the Town Solicitor to prepare and ordinance limiting contaminates in fill material to the levels existing on land to be filled." Yes, the Council clearly knows better than the RI DEM, the Federal government, and the international scientific community about safe levels of arsenic. If you care about science, the right to use compost, or our taxes (see my previous posts) you'll want to encourage the Council to think long and hard about this one.

Okay, well, maybe just think long.

Then, former PCC director "Cheshire" Kathy Melvin has requested an agenda item, "Request Council Involvement in Approval Process for Locating Marijuana Center in Portsmouth Industrial Park." While I suppose it's possible that Ms. Melvin wants to urge the Council to speed the process along to get medical relief to those who need it, my gut tells me that's not what's going to be requested. Where were Ms. Melvin and the Council when CVS and RiteAid were stocking store shelves in our town with oxycodone? I'm shocked. Shocked, I say.

And to round out the trifecta of wacky, Portsmouth Police Chief Lance Hebert has an item, "Request Council Direction on how to Proceed re: Signage - Skateboarding at Island Park Playground/Police Dept." If you've read the coverage in Patch, you'll know that a new sign banning skating appeared in the Island Park playground, and my guess is that the Chief is going to ask the Council for an ordinance to back it up. Journalists are always looking for hidden connections, and while correlation is not causality, the fact that some of the most vocal landfill wingnuts are also the core of the anti-skate crowd makes me go, "hmmm." Not that the drumbeat of "who approved the aresenic" rhetoric about Town Administrator Bob Driscoll could have scared him into putting up a no-skating sign. I would never believe that. Nope. Not me. Remember that Descartes fundamental axiom is more properly stated as Dubito ergo sum, which makes much more sense when you think about it.

I'll admit, I haven't been going to Council meetings. Given the 4-member PCC bloc, it just hasn't seemed worth trying to reason with them. But these are issues that touch everyone in the community, and even if they're intent on corkscrewing Portsmouth into the ground, I think they should hear from us. Hope to see you there.

Full disclosure: I was a member of the Island Park working group that attempted to find a mediated solution on the skate park, and I was on the side of the skaters.


OMG -j-,
It's not the end of the world, yet, and you have lots of company - j - . I lose my cogito all the time and learned many years ago, that attending a TC meeting is like calling into C-SPAN, you speak and that is it. No minds are ever changed; it is like the Feds who have to have their tickets punched by holding public hearings on environmental impact statements. When we consistently get candidates that tell us what we want to hear and then do the opposite once in office you have to wonder about our abilities to choose wisely. Our challenges are much larger and we are ignoring them at our peril. I am thinking of GITMO, no end of bleeding and loosing treasure in order to stop killing-by-killing, habeas corpus, torture, secrecy, etc., but this is a local matter and I am sorry to see us all wrapped up around the axel over these simple issues. So it is the way of the world and it will bring us asunder. Just think, wisdom synthesized only some 375 years ago or so is still fresh and appropriate and many philosophers have turned over in the graves many times as they see civilization doing the same thing expecting different results.

Resident Kathleen Melvin had put an item on the agenda to ask questions about the marijuana “compassion center” and a request for council participation in the permitting process. However, for some reason she got recognized by Robicheau right outside the box, first thing, way ahead of her item's place on the agenda.

She asked to withdraw the item from the agenda and move the discussion to the next meeting. She requested this, she said, because of her concern about the council agenda’s length that evening. Though she came forth with a request that discussion of the matter be postponed, she still managed to say that she is not convinced that the medical marijuana center should be considered agriculture: “This isn’t DeCastro’s,” she said.
She asked that the agenda item be post-poned. This request was opposed by The Compassion center’s attorney, Vernon Gordon. Mr. Gordon pointed out that the item had been properly advertised, and that the owner/operator of the center was present, as were abutters, officials, and other interested parties.
My theory is that the real reason Ms. Melvin wanted to move the item was because too late she learned that the whole subject was really moot because the Town has absolutely no jurisdiction over the matter. The center requires no town licensure, zoning approval, or any other permission from the town. They already have what they need from the Town – and (more importantly) from the State of RI.
But wait – I can’t be right – a matter being moot (or not based on any facts) has certainly never been in the way of Ms. Melvins incessant specifying.