During last night’s Berlin Maryland Mayor and Council Meeting an even scarier specter of the Fall season was brought forth – that of small town government, acting mostly on hearsay, trying to legislate how local citizens may celebrate a most innocuous holiday event – Halloween.
The Council meeting room was filled with spectators, including many of the children who had enthusiastically participated for nearly two months creating a ‘Halloween house walking tour’ through a local backyard within the Berlin town limits. With blessings from the Decatur Farms homeowners association and the backing of local schools, including offering community service hours, a family had opened their backyard as a setting for some seasonal celebratory fun. Unfortunately, a last minute review by the Town’s Planning and Zoning Department erroneously found several Town ordinances were in possible jeopardy; that of operating a business (when no fees to participate were being collected?), and an unwittnessed visit by the local Fire Marshall citing in potential violations.
For over one hour, with much back and forth between the sponsoring family, various members of the Berlin Town Staff and the folks on the dais, these same children witnessed a somewhat heated debate – finally resulting in Mayor Gee Williams deciding to allow the event to take place on one night only instead of the planned six nights. Of course, this was after Town Attorney, David Gaskill said that, according to Town Code, the Mayor and Council had no authority to speak to the matter…saying instead that since the Town Staff had brought the complaint that only the Berlin Zoning Appeals Board (meeting too late – next on November 15th) could find on this matter!
To quote Dorothy Parker – “What fresh hell is this…?” With much of the United States population currently experiencing severe economic pressures and outwardly protesting Government activities including overregulation, our youth now gets to witness, first hand, how government works on a local level…not a good example folks. Shame on you Town Staff! Perhaps next time (and there will be a next time) you keep in mind to act ‘for’ rather than against the folks that pay your salaries!