Letters to the Editor, March 16

Plastic Bag Ban Not A Hit


I read your passionate reporting on how some food markets were skirting the law by using heavier plastic bags instead of paper bags. I once again am wondering why this regulation was promulgated in the first place. After watching one woman picking up groceries after a paper bag broke I spoke with many cashiers and the manager who confirm that consumers universally dislike the change. So why do we do it?

This is nothing that emanated from any burning desire of Chatham or Harwich residents. This, like most government initiatives that seek to improve our lives, was copied from other communities that have either already adopted it or are considering it. If it is a good idea for Harwich to consider, well, then it must be good for Chatham. This is how all-new initiatives sweep across regions. I promise you they don’t just magically or coincidentally emerge from a groundswell of citizens.

Here is the problem or perhaps the question. What great health concern is the health board addressing here? I’m not entirely clueless (arguable). I do realize that this is about paper being easily biodegradable and plastic not so much. This however does not rise to the level of something that the health board should be intervening in. In fact, very similar initiatives have been introduced at town meetings and they simply fail because people generally feel that plastic is much more convenient, it is recyclable and has been so for many years. Paper costs much more and as the owner of the Chatham Village Market stated the cost of paper is six times greater than that of plastic. In addition, many plastics now are biodegradable. So, generally speaking people have turned this initiative down at town meetings feeling that they really don’t want food costs to rise. Food markets will price the increase into their products and inevitably you and I will pay more.

Just last week I was leaving the grocery store and I carried out six bags, three in one hand and three in another. The plastic handles easily slip into my fingers and I can make one easy trip to my car. One easy trip from my car to my house. If we are forced to use paper they will be more awkward to carry, we will make far more trips, bags will break, and using them will take longer and be less convenient. I realize that we are not talking big costs or huge inconveniences but it seems like so many of these progressive ideas seem to make things just slightly more costly and make life just that much more difficult. Is this what we want from our government?

Boards of health have enormous powers. They can do what they wish with no appeal to selectman or town meeting. So, enlightened and extreme environmentalist figured out if it can’t get passed at town meeting then we can just have the health board proclaim it is a serious health concern and warrants intervention of the basis of protecting us from ourselves. We are not smart enough to see the light at town meetings so we will once again take care of the not so smart electorate who don’t know what is good for them.

I’m sure they will argue that our health depends on long term care of the planet, that plastic will sit in the earth and destroy us over time. Well, if that is true then what do they say about all the trees that have to be cut down in order to make all these paper bags? Don’t we need trees to produce oxygen and devour carbon dioxide? Are we not supposed to save the forest for our long-term health? Is this also not a long-term concern? Should the board of health ban removal of vegetation for fear of the long-term consequences to our planet? I know this sounds silly and extreme but is it that much different than the bag proposal?

Our board of health has done an excellent job over the years. They have shown tremendous ability to impose intelligent regulations and oversight without showing any signs of usurping the authority of the people in the name of a health concern. I thank them for this service, a job well done! However, on this one I think the decision should be more a community one done through a policy debate. It is not a concern that rises to the level of needing the immediate and unilateral intervention of the Board of Health.

Sean Summers



Silence All He Needed


My wife and I were property owners and summer residents of Chatham for 20 years. We come back yearly with our family. I didn't know Tim Roper. From all the encomiums to him, he appears to have been a lovely, productive person and very dedicated to Chatham. I thought the most eloquent testimony to him was that Selectman Seth Taylor had nothing to say about him. That's pretty much all I needed to know about Mr. Roper. Rest in peace.

Martin Berliner

Greenwood Village, Colo.


Running For Office Takes Courage


The continuing campaign on the part of what appears to be a committee of two to smear the reputation of one member of the board of selectpersons is getting more nasty with each edition of this paper.  The latest smear was written by someone who doesn’t even vote here, yet he has a great deal to say about who might be elected. A few years ago, this same person actually drove to Connecticut and back, looking for evidence that a selectman was voting in two different places!  A failed mission, I hasten to add.

In this kind of political climate I urge citizens to use civility and care when advocating for one candidate or another.  No matter who the candidates might be, it takes a certain amount of courage to put oneself in situations where there will be supporters and criticism.  But public displays of mean spiritedness does a disservice to those who are perfectly capable of thinking for ourselves without nasty attempts meant to sway voters.  Let he who likes to cast stones, run for office somewhere.

Judith S. Winters

North Chatham


What's Important For Selectmen


I am supporting Shareen Davis for selectman. I do not know her, but I have heard very strong recommendations from many whose opinion I respect. The other reason is that I feel it's time for Mr. Taylor to take a break. I either attend or watch the selectmen's meetings regularly and find his time consuming rants troubling, offensive and out of step as compared to how the other selectmen conduct themselves. He does not want to recognize that Chatham is changing along with the times but also holding on to the best of Chatham's past. It's not the residents' fault that the fishing industry is hurting or that Mother Nature does her thing or that the lifestyles require homes to update for today's living, etc. To call the tourists "locusts" and wish to punish the "summer people" with higher taxes, etc. does not get my vote. I am a conservative, but feel Chatham is very fortunate to be in the position we are today and having a board of selectmen that realize that and work to maintain it, is important to us all.

Susan Hebert



Shark Capital Of The World?


The Chatham Chamber of Commerce wants Chatham taxpayers to provide additional funds to “rebrand” (a word best used for cattle) the town. Why? To attract more tourists so we can all pay for more parking lots and infrastructure? And so we locals will have to wait an additional hour to get a meal in town? Or to further jam up our streets? What’s wrong with last year’s version – “Chatham: the Shark Capital of the World?” Seems appropriate and not because of the sharks that live in our waters.

Carol Pacun


Waterfront Deserves Budgeted Funds

I couldn't agree more with the article on page 2 of the March 2 Chronicle regarding waterfront upgrades. Indeed our waterfront is among Chatham's greatest assets and that includes our beautiful beaches. I am very concerned about Cockle Cove Beach where erosion is now approaching the parking lot. Many of our summer visitors come to enjoy the beaches and contribute greatly to our economy. Cockle Cove is not ready for them.
Why aren't funds budgeted each year specifically for beach maintenance whether by dredging or trucking sand or whatever is required?

Joseph Bolus
South Chatham