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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

If you don't know how to do it, I'll show you how to walk the dog. . .

Walking the dog

(Doggerel for a perfect May Day)

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Mystery restaurants aren't very mysterious

While I'm not going to speculate about the name of the mystery chain restaurant that wants approval to build in Burleigh Square (near Lowes, Office Max, Aldi, and some mediocre steak-and-shakes kind of place the name of which escapes me), I can tell you what it will add to Tosa.

Another spike in the coffin of looking like every other commercial strip-dominated city in the country.

For the last couple weeks, I've been working in Door County. Around Ephraim, there's nary a franchise to be seen. Ok: there's a BP gas station. But aside from that, it's a McDonald's/Applebee's-free zone.

And that's one of the reasons people love to go there. Everything is new and different -- or old and different. (Al Johnson's still has a goat-worthy roof.) Smaller, owned by individuals who live there (at least part of the year). Looking at the nonstandard storefronts delights the eye. And your brain has to work just a little bit to process things because there's not already a groove worn deep where the ubiquitous all-the-same-all-the-time-everywhere thoughts connect.

There is nothing "delicate" about negotiations with a national chain whose stores employ 15 people and do mostly carryout food service. It's just business as usual.

The Plan Commision and the mayor are right to resist approving mystery projects. I imagine eventually they'll go ahead and approve it anyway, figuring the area is already doomed. . .I mean, already has the franchise "style" stamped on it.

But if we want Tosa to stay unique, desirable, and a little upscale (not to mention remain a place we'd all like to continue living), it might be better to put the brakes on all franchise restaurants now.

You still won't have to go far for that sub or burrito.

Just say no to ugly communications towers

It's unfashionable to question anything that has the word "security" attached to it.

So I won't ask whether the city needs a security tower to house cameras turned on Hart Park, the water tower, and city hall, even if I might wonder why. Which I do. But I digress.

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Free enterprise: whose freedom are we talking about?

The proliferation of fast food restaurants and how they can alter and diminish a community is a hot topic. It hit a nerve in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel readers as it did for readers of this blog. Reader Eileen sent me a heads-up about a Subway franchise that wants in to Sister Bay in Door County, although most residents and visitors emphatically don't want it there.

Others see it differently. JK wrote:

Wow, such a visceral reaction here. It seems to be a bit of an overaction. If people are so adverse to it, can't they just do there what they can do anywhere - which is to not patronize the establishment?
I feel sure the business wouldn't survive without customers.

It is after all the free enterprise system.  

The free enterprise system is "Business governed by the laws of supply and demand, not restrained by government interference, regulation or subsidy. Also called free market."

There's plenty supply, but is there a demand for Subway in Sister Bay? Mainly by the business owner, apparently. If he builds it, will they come? Who knows? If it's successful, the endless call for competition in unmoderated free enterprise means more franchises. If it's not, the town is left with the shell of a cast-off business, like so many Arthur Treachers and Country Kitchens that have littered the byways.

There's something a little unequal in the freedoms promised by the free enterprise system. A business gets to do what it wants and thinks will work. And individuals get to buy or refrain from buying. That's precious little power, unless people buy or refrain in droves.

Government interference on a national or even a state level justly makes people uncomfortable. But what happens when people in a community can't decide how they want to shape that community? That seems to be another issue entirely.

Of course, I'd have a different notion if the Gibralter school district in Door County were banning books or buying history books that reconstruct American history Texas-school-board-style.

Free Enterprise is also a movie. I haven't seen it but it's going on the Netflix list.  William Shatner's in it, along with a film editor for films like Teen Bimbo Beach Assault and a screenplay writer working on a story "about a serial killer who murders the characters from the Brady bunch. The movie. . .spends most of its time with their floundering love lives, suggesting that their pop-culture programming may not be the best model for life."

The free market zealots say "just change the channel if you don't like the pop culture programming." But sometimes, every channel has stuff that's not good for you.

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