Banned in Arlington
Arlington, MA is a solidly progressive community north west of the city of Boston that has a long and proud history of banning anything that disturbs more than 90 or so residents who also happen to participate in Arlington’s archaic form of self government, a quaint and currently much maligned body called “Town Meeting”. Below, we detail the past, present and future efforts of Arlington to deny its high population density, legislate bans on human behavior and turn a once blue collar community that had a history of residents minding their own business to a sustainable nirvana that minds your business for you.
Don’t Bug Me!
During the 2010 Arlington Town Meeting, citizen Louise Popkin asked members to ban “bug zappers”.
ARTICLE 38 BYLAW AMENDMENT/ELECTRONIC PEST CONTROL DEVICES
To see if the Town will vote to amend the Town Bylaws to restrict the times during which electronic pest control devices (‘bug zappers’) may be used, determine penalties for the violation thereof; or take any action related thereto.
(Inserted at the request of Louise B. Popkin and 10 registered voters)
One elderly woman spoke passionately, claiming that bug zappers reminded her of the holocaust. Of course, we can’t allow neo-Nazi devices within the borders of our fair town. Town Meeting complied with a 102-78 vote changing the noise abatement bylaw effectively banning bug zappers, or in fact any noise used to kill disease carrying (or otherwise) insects with any device that emits audible sound beyond the line of the property. The bug zapper ban also introduced a new concept of noise abatement, ignoring decibel levels common in science and law to a new standard of any audible sound. We expect this precedent to be useful when Arlington decides to ban sneezing or the expelling of particularly noxious bodily gasses, loudly.
ARTICLE 38 BYLAW AMENDMENT/ELECTRONIC PEST CONTROL DEVICES
VOTED: (STANDING VOTE – 102 IN THE AFFIRMATIVE AND 78 IN THE NEGATIVE)
That Title V (“Regulations Upon the Use of Private Property”), Article 12 (“Noise Abatement”), Section 3 (“Daytime Only Activities”), of the Town Bylaws, be and hereby is amended by inserting the following subsection C:
C. Bug Zappers. Operating or causing to be operated after 10 P.M. or before 7 A.M. (8 A.M. on Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday) any electronic device for killing, trapping, or repelling insects or other pests if such device emits audible sound beyond the line of the property on which the device is located.
Leaf Blowers Banned
We wrote an extensive piece on the banning of gas powered leaf blowers. The debate at Town Meeting went beyond the precedent for absolute silence that was created in the 2010 bug zapper ban, since noise ordinances merely regulate the hours under which annoying noises can be emitted. Proponents of the ban also invoked their most successful ploy, the scare tactic, by introducing the concept of a fictitious health hazard.
Town Meeting member, and completely unrecognized local public health pundit, Jeremy Marin cobbled together disparate health warnings culled from the sides of fertilizer bags, little yellow flags placed on chemically treated lawns as well as decade old studies from the land of fruits and nuts about two-cycle engine pollutants to whip Town Meeting into a frenzy. His coup de grâce was the prophetic warning that leaf blowers are likely to reduce your sperm count!. Not satisfied with scaring Town Meeting Members, who are mostly past child bearing age, Dr. Marin went out to the more, shall we say, fertile ground of the Arlington Parent’s list, a forum inhabited by mostly mothers who are concerned with lactation, reproduction and getting rid of the accoutrements that those who are produced are wont to collect. Here, self-proclaimed sperm expert Marin expanded on his Town Meeting warnings with
chemicals linked to learning disabilities, low sperm counts, menstrual problems and much, much more
all in the context of overturning the ban on leaf blowers. Needless to say, the ban stood up, strong and firm, against the referendum to overturn during six solid hours of straight up voting. Not only were gas powered leaf blowers banned, but Arlington’s aggregate sperm count soared, remaining at elevated levels for six months with a corresponding spectacular rise in the birth rate, eventually leading to over crowding at schools and bi-annual overrides to deal with the special needs of the subsequent progeny of the elated, excited and elderly Town Meeting members.
Soda and Sugar Banned
In 2013, encouraged and empowered by the precedent of using pseudo-science to scare and prod Town Meeting members, as well as riding on the bare backs of more enlightened and progressive communities such as New York City, Cambridge and Brookline, Arlington’s Town Meeting took up a ban on soda and any soft drink larger than a thimble full. Three reports in the New York Times as well as the aggregate two ton weight of the Dunkin Caramel Mocha quaffing members up front, convinced Town Meeting that something must be done.
Despite record rake sales after the leaf blower ban, an ever increasing pandemic of obesity persisted in our public employees, elected officials and lard asses about-town. As well, another pseudo-scientist and town meeting member, related the igNOBEL prize winning study that showed that Coke reduces your sperm count! Town Meeting members throughout the hall popped up, spluttering all over opponents convinced that they needed to ram this ban through all barriers. Emboldened and showing a complete lack of restraint, a substitute motion was made to ban all sugar from being sold in Arlington. This bylaw was met with wild abandonment, a huge sigh of relief and then sleep by all male members of the meeting. The rest of Town Meeting quietly sipped their last sodas as a preventative measure and as an act of fiscal and budgetary prudence.
Electric leaf blowers, weed wackers, lawn mowers banned
Armed with the pseudo-science of pubic health hazards, the gas powered leaf blower ban was extended for 51 weeks by the 2014 Town Meeting, with Christmas to New Years the only allowable period of use. Recognizing the dangers of two-stroke engines, weed wackers were also banned. Also realizing the argument that any ill wind that blows against the ground can potentially lower sperm counts, the ban was extended to electric leaf blowers. Disappointed with the unabated rise in obesity, Town Meeting expanded to 20 weeknight sessions and smuggled Coolatta’s were deployed to keep exhausted and depleted members erect. Throughout marathon sessions, members concocted a scheme to increase physical activity of residents and also banned lawn mowers, requiring all residents to use a push reel mower. Octogenarian resident Dwayne Bobbitt called for a ban of all noise making equipment with the plea, “can’t I have some peace and quiet”.
In an effort to get to the root of the problem, the 2014 Town Meeting also banned all fertilizers, pesticides and in an effort to lessen noise and dissuade superstitious behavior church bells were also banned. In a substitute motion, new resident, renter and apartment dweller Pauline Weiner-Goode successfully amended the church bell ban to include the Town Horn. As she thoughtfully explained, “what good are elevated sperm levels with church bells constantly reminding us of sinful behavior. Plus, nothing spoils a good nooner like that darn fire horn.”
Town Meeting 2015 – Banner Year
The 2015 Town Meeting set a standard for banning past practices, potential future practices and life’s little annoyances.
First, all plastic bags were banned from stores and the Town’s waste collection contractor, JRM, was directed to fine anyone throwing plastic bags away. Next, increasingly concerned with year after year decline in natural gas prices and the attendant increase in economic activity, Town Meeting banned all oil and gas exploration and production within town limits.
Concerned with poor driving along the Mass Ave corridor, despite one lane for both directions and a 5MPH speed limit, all cellphones while driving was banned. An exception was made for cellphone and texting for bicyclists. In order to protect our youth, the sale of tobacco was banned as well as any display of public smoking. Driveway sealants were banned since they used fossil fuels and released known carcinogens that might lower your sperm count.
Following our enlightened neighbor to the North, bottled water was banned from being sold or used in any of Arlington’s parks. To combat a rise in the risk of a zombie apocalypse, “bath salts” were banned. As a nod to our furry friends and to combat not just human trafficking, but also trafficking of sentient species, the sale of cats and dogs was banned. As one Town Meeting member put it, “selling pets is a form of slavery”.
To protect all of the children, the sale of used toys was banned as well as using chalk on the sidewalks. Following on the ban of sugar and soda, all bake sales were banned, along with any outdoor feedings. To combat obesity, sitting on sidewalks was banned. In a nod to our growing diversity, to bolster the vegan lifestyle and to drive business to the Farmer’s market, the sale and ownership of eggs and meat was banned.
And in a midnight vote, in response to a small group of people who recognized the dangers of bike seats to Arlington’s world leadership in sperm count, bikes were banned. Outraged, opponents forced a binding ballot referendum seeking to overturn the ban on bikes. Elected officials scheduled the vote during the summer and recognizing that polls must open at 2:00pm, but that state law does not specify the ending time, set the vote from 2:00pm on July 19, 2015 to 8:00pm on July 19, 2016.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.