Local corned beef & cabbage?

I suppose it’s not actually St. Patrick’s Day any more, as I post this, but still.

Last week’s post garnered a great comment about the usefulness of local cable access. I am one of those irritating snobs who doesn’t own a TV, but I am checking on what would be involved in getting a couple of different shows onto Portsmouth CATV.

The budget analysis terrifies me, but I found out yesterday that I know someone in the finance department at City Hall. No idea yet whether that will be at all useful, but it might be.

The big fun of the last week was my ever-so-exciting Monday night. As previously announced, I went to the kick-off of Seacoast Local’s Farm to Business program, but ended up talking to folks about local seafood issues. Local food movements are a good place to meet other people who are annoyed at the government; we would all have so many more choices about where we could get our food if it weren’t for the insane pile of regulations in the way. Seacoast fishers catch lots of fish—but because of licensing issues at the state and federal level, the fish all goes all the way to Boston, and then most of it goes up to York, Maine, before it even has a chance to get to a Portsmouth table. There is a huge amount of interest in changing that—but because actually changing the law is so prohibitively difficult, it becomes a matter of figuring out the right dance to do around the existing regulations.

After that was over, I caught what was left of the City Council meeting, which proved to be quite a bit. The public hearing on the Capital Improvement Plan (which is non-binding, but informs the budget process) took quite a long time, I gather, so the meeting ran until nearly 11 pm. It is the little things that interest me, though; when I got there, a woman was arguing with the Council about her business sign. She took over a business space that had a sign. She asked the business owner to leave the sign up; he took it down. Now, for her to mount a new sign in exactly the same place and of exactly the same dimensions as the previous business, she needs a business variance and permission from the Planning Commission, which will take at least two months to grant, if she’s lucky. Local government is irritating like sand in a swimsuit.

The only other point of interesting discussion was the contract for the new Superintendent of Schools. The Council had previously authorized a contract up to $130,000; the new contract is a bit under that, but the economy is more obviously bad since the authorization, and so two Councilors voted against the contract. This is kind of deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic stuff; no realistic candidate is going to work for less than $120,000, and the search committee itself will be spending money in the process. Oh, I have an idea: what if the public education was provided by a non-profit not subject to this political nonsense? Crazy! Oh, wait—it worked just fine until the late 1800s when people got paranoid about the Catholics and immigrants and their un-American educations.