Jonathan Crimmins

Jonathan Crimmins

If you have read any of my columns, you probably have gathered that I have a difficult time with someone telling me or someone else what they can and cannot do with their person or property. As a conservative I know there are rules and I know that those rules must be followed, but all too often the people that we elect take it upon themselves to become self-serving potentates who forget why it was that they ran for office in the first place.

Some politicians actually believe that their opinions matter more than those of the citizenry. Some politicians just want to hear the sound of their own voice. How do I know this to be true? Ask yourself how often a bi-weekly council meeting lasts for three hours or more? Rarely is it because of a great deal of public comment.

So this brings this column to two events, one recent and one in the past that demonstrate how the ruling class in Brunswick has a stranglehold over the citizenry.

Recently, the council took up a request to add a fifth food cart to the Mall this summer. To be honest, I am a lifelong devotee of Danny’s Hot Dog stand. There is nothing better than sitting on the Mall on a summer day and enjoying a hot dog. My sons love going there and seeing Jeff and Sean. While I do not recall ever visiting one of the other vendors, it is great that they are there. People having choices on how to recreate or eat is fundamental to who we are as a people.

Wraps and burgers and ice cream, oh my!

In typical council fashion they went back and forth. Some councilors saw no problem with increasing the number of vendors on the Mall. Those councilors seemed to believe that adding choices was a good idea. Unfortunately, a vocal minority chose to believe that the space, our space, could not handle the increased traffic. Remember this space handles at various times, the vendors, the farmer’s market, musical performances and the yearly destruction of half of the mall as a large skating rink is placed on the grounds. All of this, but adding one more food vendor was a bridge too far for some on this august body.

The council should be a body that sets the ground rules. It should be a blind body. The council should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. Indeed, if a business wants to begin to do business in the town of Brunswick, the council should welcome them with open arms, not try to shut them out of a certain space. This should apply to businesses large and small.

This brings me to topic number two, signs.

Did you know that the town of Brunswick dictates how it is that you can show support for a particular political candidate? Don’t believe that to be true? Call the town clerk’s office and ask them about the town’s zoning ordinance in relation to signs.

There is a neighbor of mine that has steadfastly had a sign in their yard for the better part of the last four months. While I do not support the same candidate I enthusiastically applaud their putting the sign in their yard. Through weather, great and small, this neighbor has felt the Bern, as it were.

Several years ago it would have been against town regulations to have that political sign in the yard more than a few weeks before an election. Thankfully, it was deemed that the particular part of the ordinance addressing length of time that a sign can be up should be struck down. Unfortunately, the town can and still does regulate the size of a sign that resides on private property.

If I want to demonstrate my level of support or speech, in the political sense, I must make sure that the sign is under eight square feet in size. If I want to yell my support for a candidate in the form of a sign that is four feet by four feet I will run afoul of our codes enforcement people. If, forbid, I want to place a sign on a piece of plywood at my house, I better be prepared to buy multiple sheets of plywood because the town will take it down.

Think it will not happen? Think again. The town used to pull down so many signs they would be placed behind the dumpster at the old town hall so that they could be retrieved and reused.

My point is, whether the land being used is the Mall or your own yard, the town should not be in the business of naming who wins and who does not. If we were all treated a little more freely, perhaps we would not need a three-hour long meeting.

That’s my two cents …


Jonathan Crimmins lives in Brunswick.

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