Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Democracy and Dog Poop In New Hampshire

This morning at 7 AM I found myself on line outside Winnacunnet High School, which was closed because of the predicted blizzard. The blizzard had not yet swept in, only a few skirmishers of  blowing snow had arrived, and no dire forecast prevented a thousand townspeople from showing up.

Route 1A

An octagenarian with a freshly applied eye patch, no doubt after some surgical procedure, was on line in front of me. We picked up our packets of "Warrant Articles"  twelve pages deep, and headed to the voting booths to mark our ballots.
Dog Pooper on the Ballot

There were questions about funding the four town schools and funding the fire men and a long list of questions, and some school board candidates,  but the one I struggled with most was the article about dog poop.  Should we fine $1000 for throwing dog poop down the storm drains, or failing to pick it up in a plastic bag and depositing it in a town approved garbage pail? I skipped that one, the way I'd been taught to skip the hard questions on the SAT exams and come back to them, if you had time at the end.
Plaice Cove, Hampton, NH

There is no time limit on the warrant voting. Well, the polls close at 8 PM, but that's an hour a page. 

There were some questions on which  I felt unqualified to vote--apparently sixty feet of road was found to belong to the town but it served as the driveway for some citizen, who asked the town give it to him given that he had lived in the house for twenty years and wanted to repave it.  Or something like that. Sort of a reverse eminent domain issue, I suspect. I skipped that one.  I don't think you lose points for no answers.

There was a young father with three kids below age 3, trying to mark his ballot while one of them pulled the hair of a younger sibling and the youngest tried to eat delectables she found on the floor near the voting booth.
Near Seal Rock, Hampton, NH

I met several neighbors in line waiting to feed my ballots into the scanner machine. One was there to vote against money for the schools, money for the firemen. 
"Cost money," he said. "Costs the taxpayers money. And you know who that is." 
I was tempted to ask whether he voted against  the article on property tax relief for home owners over 65 who are retired, as he is. That break for elderly retired citizens cost the not yet retired citizens money, after all.
 I, for once, kept my mouth shut, and kept my remarks to pleasantries.
Tugboat, Obadiah  Youngblood

I saw a dog walking friend from Plaice Cove. I asked her how she voted on the dog poop article and she looked surprised. She picks up her dog's poop religiously and she knows I do, too, so it seemed like a non issue to her. 

"But didn't a $1000 fine seem a bit excessive?" I asked, innocently.
"For throwing dog poop down the storm sewers?" She asked, aghast. "There's storm sewers in Hampton not a hundred yards from the ocean."
"You think the fish care?"
"I don't know about the fish, but there are seals out there. Mammals!"
She did not ask me how I voted, but I could see I'll have some repair work to do with respect to our relationship.
Salt Marshes Near Hampton, Obadiah Youngblood

I don't know how the dog poop article will fare. I do know last November our town voted for Hillary Clinton by about a hundred votes.  I suppose that should instill confidence about the wisdom of the townspeople, but I'm not sure if the same people who turned out today to vote on dog poop were the ones who voted for Donald Trump last November, or if they could tell the difference.

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