I have been a Waterville resident for 12 years now. I went to the Feb. 20 Waterville City Council meeting to speak because I am a concerned citizen. In this case, I am concerned about how the Sustain Mid Maine Coalition is looking to strip away my civil liberties. The group’s representatives, Linda Woods and Todd Martin, have written letters and spoken at council meetings in an effort to convince the good people of Waterville that we should ban plastic grocery and shopping bags at city businesses where food sales make up 2 percent or more of total sales.

Woods and Martin have told us through their website, “We have been meeting monthly and are focused on passing town ordinances that will limit the use of single-use disposable bags here in Waterville.” And, “Reusable bags are the best environmental solution.”

How nice. Not only are they telling us what we can’t do, but what we can do as well.

Finally they go on to state, “This ordinance would encourage folks to bring their own reusable shopping bags from home to the store with them.”

Encourage? That is a lie. More like mandate. Passing an ordinance is not how to encourage me. Taking away my ability to think for myself is not encouragement. It’s punishment. When is this madness going to stop? Ordinances like this say we can’t think for ourselves, that we need government to think for us. This is not the goal of government, much less of state or local government.

This town should be looking for ways to repair my road, which desperately needs it, not get in my shopping cart. Woods and Martin will tell you Waterville needs to get on board like the 12 other towns in Maine that have put ordinances in place banning plastic bags. That’s absurd. Have we become so small? Has the temptation be on this list of 12 become such a priority? Has the praise of left-wing environmental guilt become so powerful that common sense no longer matters?

I have the ability to make good decisions. But it would seem that Woods and Martin don’t feel that I or any of the people of Waterville do. Instead they want to make those decisions for us. Remember, give an inch, they will take a mile. What’s next? Just wait and see, the next best way to tell us what to do will come wrapped in the name of the oh-so-green environment. Martin spoke to the City Council in November and said, “This is just a starting point.” I have no doubt about that.

If this was just about plastic bags, this issue would be a simple one. But it isn’t — it’s a choice they are taking away from me. It is an attack on our businesses. Hey, if the merchant makes a choice to not use plastic bags, then I can choose to shop there or not. But the merchant should make that decision, not Woods or Martin. How dare they make these decisions for me? Shame on them both.

You wonder why Maine ranks low as a place to do business? Nonsense ordinances like this don’t help. They alienate businesses and put undue burdens on employees. Thank goodness our governor vetoed bill L.D. 57, an environmental regulation nightmare. Yet here we are again, dealing with the likes of the pretentious Sustain Mid-Maine Coalition.

I’ve asked the Waterville City Council to stop this nonsense and put its faith in the people who voted them in and to focus on real issues, such as our roads and local crime, and let the people of Waterville exercise their own common sense. Let us continue to make the personal choice at the store to take a plastic bag or not.

I’ve asked them to change nothing; the solution is already in place. I suggested we could even enforce our already in place litter control laws that would fine residents between $100 and $500 if they are caught littering plastic bags. How’s that for encouragement?

I’ve asked the City Council to protect our civil liberties. Specifically, our freedom of action liberties. I’ve urged the council to stop this potential ordinance and reminded them that this is how they can best help this town.

That’s how they can best serve us, the people of Waterville. Woods and Martin call it environmental control. But it’s not — it’s people control.

Dan Libby lives in Waterville.

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