, Newburyport, MA


June 4, 2014

A war on common sense

I lied.

In March I opened a column with the declaration, “I am not a cook.”

As of May, according to Newburyport’s health department, looks like I am.

Must say “looks like” only because, as things have gone these past three years at City Hall, those who read papers and attend meetings can never be sure of what is or what is not. What’s true on Monday can be false on Tuesday, but if you don’t like it, just wait till Wednesday when it’ll be true again.

If I were an interior decorator commissioned to re-do that place, there would be nothing but funhouse mirrors lining every wall.

Often we are treated to outrageous proposals, such as a parking garage carved into a floodplain, made only so that another, such as a few buildings on a floodplain, will appear “reasonable.”

Time to sink the clipper ship and adopt the Trojan horse as the city’s insignia.

More often we are treated to reports that cherry-pick details so that we can sulk — or shrug — over the obvious while missing some untold facts of neo-Newburyport life that would be far more telling.

A reader unfamiliar with the cinema on State Street might react to the May 21 Daily News’ front-page report, “Screening Room told to stop using popcorn machine,” as yet another unfortunate case of old ways having to conform to new rules.

Putting aside any estimated amount of grease created by popcorn sales in a small theater compared to amounts created by restaurants — for which the standard is intended — the reason given by City Hall does have logic:

Popcorn creates grease, and in the words of Mayor Donna Holaday supporting the decision of health director Robert Bracey, “too much grease (is) entering our aging infrastructure.”

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