Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wanted: More Energetic Editorials

The weekly column of American Journal editor Brendan Moran is often as tepid as day-old bath water. But Moran's editorial this week possessed the type of strong content that should fill that bully space each week.

Specifically, Moran was spot-on on all three points he articulated: The City Council is indeed poorer without Ed Symbol's contributions; the Council's rejection of Skybox Bar and Grill's liquor license was wrongheaded; and the City Council's flirtation with more stringent regulations for tattoo artists is heading down an unnecessary path.

I've already ranted about the Skybox liquor license, so I'll say only that Moran echoes some of the same arguments I articulated. As for the tattoo parlor regulations, Moran is correct about the necessary scope of the ordinance being considered: Sure, reinforce state law by prohibiting minors (under 18) from obtaining tattoos. But don't apply moral turpitude and similar regulations to a tattoo parlor, especially when a vast majority of Westbrook businesses don't have to wade through similar bureaucratic muck. Of course, the criticisms for the rejection of the Skybox license and the clumsy consideration of a tattoo ordinance were first uttered by former City Councilor Ed Symbol, so Moran duly gives Symbol props by writing that the City Council will miss the former councilor's contributions. For what's it worth, I concur.

A couple months ago, I referred to Ed Symbol, the former Ward 3 City Councilor, as a 'sly iconoclast.' An anonymous commenter (hmm, I wonder who it was) questioned whether it was meant to be a critical statement. For the record, I intended it only as a compliment: I had admired from afar Symbol's proposals for modest reforms. I'm not sure that I agreed with Symbol's proposals for, say, a nonpartisan City Council or the appointment--rather than the election--of the City Clerk. But I appreciated his willingness to think creatively about the governance of Westbrook.

- John C.L. Morgan

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