, Newburyport, MA


May 6, 2014

Life in the nanny-port

Barely 10 years in this Port city, I’m no expert on its history, but I know a power struggle when I see one. Not all do: Ask many locals what’s behind the waterfront brouhaha, the ado over a historic district or other powder kegs, and their eyes glaze over.

Geographically and topographically this is a little Eden: river- and ocean-sides, beaches, a quaint downtown and High Street. It’s also a small town: 17K souls since five years before God — a stasis that bears watching because such bergs do things to people’s brains without their knowing it.

Much comes to pass here with nary a word of protest — except by folks behind the power struggles. The clueless are often Rip Van Winkles who, amazingly, don’t know what is going on; but others zip their lips because living in hicksville comes at a cost: Relations are so incestuous that a simple, honest opinion can cost you clients, customers and trading partners, not to mention friends who may not mind your honesty, but know someone who does, and would rather not offend them than you.

So I’m here to offend.

I’ve lived all over the U.S. in places large and small and rarely have seen the equal of, but nothing superior to, the NRA plan for the waterfront. Indeed, a Firehouse full of folk, like me, were awed by the original public presentation.

There was also the effort to put in place an incredibly limited and unintrusive historical preservation “district” in a miniature “city” that hardly has room for more than one.

I’ll mention also the sensible move to place a surveillance camera at a strategic location and an initiative to ban plastic shopping bags.

Each of the above, and other initiatives here unmentioned, has brought out screechers and howlers whose opposition is more than honest differences of opinion. In ancient Rome, an uneducated man seen often at academy debates was asked why he frequented them, given his ignorance of classical language. He said that while he understood not a word, he always knew who was losing: the guys who got mad first.

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NRA Waterfront Plans