I’ve subscribed to The News-Post for a couple of decades. I’ve rarely made the move to speak out in a letter. Today is different.

I rely on the paper for important, useful, reliable information about our community. I’m very disappointed that you would publish an article Jan. 3, and feature it prominently on the front page, not to educate and inform the public regarding the recently signed county legislation on balloon releases, but to reference a website that has chosen the legislation as something to mock. Of the 14-paragraph article, five referenced the group. With the exception of one paragraph, I learned very little about the legislation but a lot about the group.

For those interested in knowing more about the bill, you may be surprised to learn we’re not the first in Maryland to pass it. Baltimore, Ocean City and Queen Anne’s County already have them. In fact there are laws around the country and much pending legislation in state houses and local jurisdictions. Laws are already on the books in VA, CT, FL, VA, AZ, MA, NH, NJ, NY, RI, ME, TX, CA, TN, Louisville, Kentucky, and Huntsville, Alabama.

The all-Republican commissioners in Queen Anne’s County unanimously passed the legislation last year. They did so after receiving numerous complaints about the debris. When non-biodegradable balloon debris eventually lands, some pieces may end up in our backyards and we’ll pick it up or it’ll blow into someone’s yard. But it can also clog waterways and ensnare or scare animals. On farmland, it can scare animals, distract farmers or clog machinery. It’s essentially littering, it’s unnecessary, and it’s a small, easy step we can take to care a little more about the environment we all share. We’re realizing decades later exactly how problematic plastic products are. A 2018 study in Virginia recorded 11,441 pieces of balloon debris on surveyed beaches between 2013 and 2017.

I rely on The News-Post for reliable, useful news about our community. I rely on Josh Smith for humor (and if I were a sports fan, I would for that, too). Josh is wildly funny in his column “Real Dads Wear Yoga Pants,” and I read him faithfully. You are not wildly funny when you waste limited news space where relevant community news should be. You can be better than this.

Grace Borell

Thurmont

(33) comments

BunnyLou

Yep, they could do better but it is the sign of the times.

mrnatural1

I see nothing wrong with prohibiting the release of balloons -- for the reasons already stated by others.

At first glance it may seem silly, but balloons do kill marine life, and we certainly do not need any more litter.

The fact that a law does not completely prevent the proscribed behavior (what law does?) does not mean it should not be on the books. If that were the case we would have no laws at all.

In addition to not always preventing certain actions in the first place, violators are frequently not caught. Take the laws against dumping garbage. We have had that problem along our road for a century or more it seems. The perps are rarely caught, but we certainly appreciate having a law against inconsiderate, self-centered scofflaws dumping their trash on our property.

The fact that violators are not always caught is no reason that a law should not exist.

In the case of the balloon laws around the country, it's a safe bet that most people -- once made aware of the laws existence -- will abide by them. It's more a matter of education than deterrence.

Of course there are always more important subjects, projects, issues, etc -- but there is no reason why we cannot work on more than one at a time. We all do that in our personal lives. For example, it may be really important that we get a particular professional license or certification, but that doesn't mean we put everything else on hold until we achieve that goal.

Finally, let's suppose there were no (zero) benefits of having a balloon law -- marine animals were not dying from ingesting them and they would biodegrade within days. Even if the law really were pointless, it took very little time or money to implement and no one (well, except those who are huge balloon fans) is negatively affected. So even in that case, it would be a non-issue.

HappySeller2014

I am trying to keep a straight face here. I really am.

I think this is the first time in my life, in all honesty, I have actually heard someone defend the passing of pointless legislation, if it took little time/money and did not hurt someone.

Next time someone has a nosebleed, and your doctor orders three separate medical tests, puts you on two new medications, and schedules two follow-up appointments, don't let it be said I didn't warn you! Your doctor is not trying to hurt you, and since all the medications are generics, hey, the cost is low anyways.

gabrielshorn2013

Do you understand the term "false equivalency" Happy? Not pointless since it is aimed at saving marine life and reducing another source of litter.

mrnatural1

Absolutely gabriel -- apparently I did not word my comment clearly enough for Happy.

The point was to use a *hypothetical*, non-existent scenario of a "pointless law" as way of saying that the protests against this law are very overblown -- because this 'balloon law' is very worthwhile and took very little time or money to pass.

It should go without saying that no one wants laws passed without good reason, but even if this one were useless -- which it clearly is not -- there would not be much reason to get upset about it. There are no additional demands on the sheriff's office -- no "balloon patrol", no "balloon SWAT teams".

I could understand people being concerned if a law was passed that a) had no purpose/value, b) took a lot of time and effort to pass, and c) cost a lot to enforce -- but that is not the case here.

That's the bottom line, there is simply no legitimate reason to protest this particular law.

A couple illegitimate reasons might be a) a dislike for "enviros" and/or "libs" in general -- or Kai Hagen in particular, or b) strict adherence to political dogma.

Side note -- when a person focuses on only a fraction of a comment -- in this case a 3 sentence final paragraph -- uses it out of context, and ignores the rest, that is very telling.

HappySeller2014

Gabby, once you can prove ONE instance where a balloon released in Frederick County, MD destroyed some type of marine life, I will be a believer. Same goes for straws.

The author states a study found, on average, about 2,500 assorted balloon parts on Virginia Beaches per year over the course of a five year study. 10,000 sea turtles enter the Chesapeake Bay every year. Females lay 50-200 eggs per year. There are countless fish near the Virginia Beach shores, as well as many dolphins and birds. And researches could only find about 2,500 balloon pieces, less than 70 a day on average. Most, if not all, probably from local birthday parties, car sales shops, and the animal balloon makers out on the street corners every night during the summer for the kids. You know how many birthday parties are thrown on beaches?

Anglers on the Virginia Beach fishing pier probably lose around 100 lures a day off the pier. Many novices probably lose 3 to 5 each in a few hours. Many made of plastic. Oh, the horror!

How many balloon carcasses you seen in Carrol Creek? The lake and falls at Cunningham State Park? Do you see massive dead balloon massacres in the Potomac River near Brunswick? How many dead balloons are found in Frederick City's wastewater filtration system? Have you found any dead balloon carcasses in your yard lately?

gabrielshorn2013

Give it up Happy. You're trolling. If you bothered to read the Longwood University report, those questions are answered. I'm done going around with you on this. The law is passed. Learn to live with it.

MD1756

Happy must be the CEO of a manufacturing firm. Happy uses the same argument that corporations do to avoid regulations dealing with their pollution or if they are unfortunate enough to be burdened with regulations that are designed to reduce the amount of waste they can dump into other people's air, water or land. If detected they say prove that it's my pollution and not someone else's that is causing the problem. For example, no coal fired power plant would agree that their emissions are the ones adversely impacting states downwind. Therefore it must not be a problem. I think in the future I'm going to try to ignore Happy's comments as not being worth anyone's time.

HappySeller2014

You folks are not answering my questions. Call me what you want, but you keep evading my questions.

And Gabby, for the 3rd time, I believe the Clemson PhD dissertation is valid and stands the test of reasonsbleness. Why do you keep bringing up Longwood?

KellyAlzan

So funny. Gabby said happy is “trolling”! Gabbs does nothing but TROLL

gabrielshorn2013

Happy, you already know the answer to that from my previous response. Go look it up. Poor scholarship. If it was so convincing, why did Clemson discontinue its balloon releases? You agree that it takes 8 to 10 weeks for the rubber to degrade in air, and remain inflated for a day. Therefore, why will you not concede that with a 15 mph wind, tha balloons will remain aloft and be over the bay and ocean after 4 hours? If that happens, marine life will mistake the balloons for jellyfish and eat them. The Longwood University report was highly referenced and signed off by many different agencies in Virginia, and Virginia stopped mass balloon releases. Are you saying the report is flawed? If so, how. You haven't even read it because you would have seen that they recovered balloons released in Kansas and Oklahoma on Virginia beaches, so it is in no way a stretch of the imagination to believe that balloons from Frederick won't reach the bay or ocean. You would also have seen the photos of dead endangered sea turtles with balloon ribbons hanging out of their mouths, or other animals entangled. You would also have seen pages of references for confirmation of findings. Yet all that evidence is not convincing to you? When you read all of that information and are serious about having a real conversation, come back. Until then, give it up. The law is passed.

gabrielshorn2013

gabrielshorn2013 Dec 31, 2019 6:41pm

Trolling how Kelly? By disagreeing with someone who was addressing me and disproving their argument? If that is the charge, then guilty.

Do you even understand what trolling is?

HappySeller2014

Ah, balloons are back! I love these FNP boards!

threecents

While I agree the balloon issue is not insignificant, I don't mind that the FNP editors disagree with me, and I am glad they provide this forum for discussion. I think the FNP is doing an awesome job. As for the sports humor column, I am not a big fan, but to each his own.

KellyAlzan

Quote:

”The all-Republican commissioners in Queen Anne’s County unanimously passed the legislation last year.”

OFFICIAL RESPONSE:

And there lays the problem.

Look, it’s not the concept that the majority is furious about. It’s the short sighted execution. It’s the fact that OUR county has more pressing issues.

It’s short sighted because the law is non-enforceable. Just because it’s a law, or if it’s a legal consent agreement - it doesn’t mean there’s a leg st stand on. It would be very difficult for law enforcement to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt who released the balloons. Along with other legal logistics that make enforcement next to impossible.

Our county is experiencing traffic accidents and fatalities on rt 15 by rentals unlimited on a weekly basis. This needs addressed. It’s far more critical. And for the others that thrive to debate - yes, I know rt 15 is a state road, but both the county and the city governments have a role in the problems with 15. The county and the city have ownership in the accidents and deaths. At grade intersections are dangerous.

We have a weekly issue with trucks getting stuck under the railroad bridge in Monrovia. See,’northbound rt 75 lacks sufficient signage and devices that provide ample and reasonable notification to drivers and lack opportunity for a tractor trailer to safely turn around.

The county Dept if permits and inspections is so antiquated. It has to be the most out of date system in all of MD and VA I’ve ever seen. The county can’t bring the application process and the scheduling of inspections up to current times, but they can fabricate non-enforceable balloon laws?

No one like litter. But this is incompetent leadership. The FNP got it right.

gabrielshorn2013

If you are going to post an ”OFFICIAL” response dear leader, you have a duty to respond to each of these questions, just as you expect the County Council to address your issues.

“…that the majority is furious about”. Did you take a poll on that, or is this your omniscience?

“It’s the fact that OUR county has more pressing issues.” So is it your position that the more difficult and pressing issues that are financially constrained be completed first, before initiating any other tasks that can be done quickly, and without cost, yet provide great benefit? You do understand that much of that is beyond County control, don’t you? You do understand that we cannot force the Federal or State government to give us financing whenever we want it, right? You also understand that if we adhered to your decree, that nothing would ever get done, right? We would still be stuck on those other issues, and get nowhere.

“It’s short sighted because the law is non-enforceable” So, should all litter laws be repealed, because they too are unenforceable? The enforceability is irrelevant. Nobody is going to bust little Muffy’s birthday party because one of her helium-filled balloons got away. However, wedding planners, civic groups, banks, stadiums, churches, etc. Will understand that it is no longer allowed, and will refrain from doing so. Is that not a good objective? Is preventing the long and painful death of endangered marine animals not a good objective? After all, the balloons released here end up in the bay and ocean. The LTE writer told you how many States and municipalities are implementing such a ban. The law is passed, move on.

“,,,yes, I know rt 15 is a state road” No, US 15 is a US highway. Funding for any maintenance or changes must come from State and Federal sources. Requests for changes should go to our state Representatives and Senators, and to our Federal Representatives and Senators, who will then initiate the projects and funding if approved.

“We have a weekly issue with trucks getting stuck under the railroad bridge in Monrovia” We understand that this has been your pet peeve for a few years. You have incessantly whined about it here, where it does nothing, rather than to your State representatives or the Maryland State Highway administration, under whose responsibility this issue falls. Steve McKay has your complaint, if you sent it to him. He will forward it to the appropriate State personnel. Other than grabbing the SHA Administrator by the collar and dragging him to the bridge, what more would you like him to do?

” The county Dept if permits and inspections is so antiquated”. I have had no problems getting permits or scheduling inspections when I needed either. The inspection dates and times may not have always been convenient, but such is life. Maybe your situation is different.

KellyAlzan

Emergency roadside safety flares are also litter. Police and emergency people set them up and light them. Then, leave them lay and never pick them up.

DickD

Don't tell Blaine, that will be his next obnoxious LTE.

KellyAlzan

Took me a second to know what you are talking about 🤣

DickD

Flares.

DickD

Grace, you are very lucky to have no bigger problems than balloons.

gabrielshorn2013

Dick, read the report from Virginia. If that doesn't change your mind, I don't know what will.

DickD

And you think that balloons are a major problem and guns are not, Gabe?

gabrielshorn2013

Did you read the report from VA dick, or are you commenting again without the facts? Everything the LTE writer states is true. Just about every state is making helium balloon releases unlawful, including our neighbor Virginia. All those states laws started with local efforts. The law cost nothing, and very little time to implement. It is beneficial to marine animals, such as endangered species of sea turtles who eat the deflated balloons thinking they are jellyfish. The endangered turtles then slowly die due to a blocked GI tract. Is that acceptable? As for the "Lead Commenter's " opinion, if we waited for all the big major issues to be resolved first, nothing else would ever get done. All of those issues require local, state, and federal funding, and are therefore constrained by a lack of such funding. But you know that, right?

As for guns dick, I never said we dont have a problem, now did I? I have repeatedly stated my position, and the laws under 18 USC 922 and 924. Have you read those Federal laws? You have stated in this forum that you don't want registration, so we're in agreement, right?

KellyAlzan

Gabbs, so people are supposed to drop what they’re doing and go searching for something in VA?

Or, you find something elsewhere and you deem it to be gospel?

Why no link? Why??

gabrielshorn2013

Well dear leader, I provided that link several times already in the past week or so. Since you are too important and busy in your new, self-assigned role, to look for it, I will give you the benefit of the doubt. BTW, dick is retired, and you seem to have an awful lot of time on your hands to keep complaining here instead of where it would do any good. I assumed you might take 30 seconds to use those phenomenal computer skills that you claim to have. Here you go:

http://www.longwood.edu/cleanva/images/Balloon%20Litter%20on%20VAs%20Remote%20Beaches%208-2018%20Report%20for%20web.pdf

KellyAlzan

You can say that again, Dick. While those of us with teen drivers are worrying about them making it through Rt 15 in one piece, Kai is dwelling on balloons.

gabrielshorn2013

[lol][lol][lol][beam][beam][beam]

threecents

Kelly and Gabe, Get a room. [cool]

DickD

I don't think so, three. Kelly is a woman and Gabe will never hit a woman. Most of the time he is likeable, unless you hit his gun button.

gabrielshorn2013

Thanks for the compliment Dick. You are correct, I am a gentleman at all times. I even maintain my decorum when discussing firearms. [beam][wink]

HappySeller2014

Balloons fly away. Guns shoot buckshot. Buckshot makes dead balloon carcasses. It all comes full circle now.

threecents

Exactly.

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