06 August 2017

[TPC] - My thoughts on Hospitality & Brown-bagging in the COV

[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

Hospitality and brown-bagging ordinance on the agenda for Monday's Covington council meeting 

(Covington * 7/6/17) - So tomorrow night at 6:30 and the City of Covington Council will be meeting and the big item of discussion will be the aforementioned hospitality and brown-bagging ordinances. There seems to be a general consensus view that this is a good thing for the home city and needs to be passed as long as some major changes are made to the original draft.

The original draft was not worth the paper it was printed on. It was lousy. Some have wondered if that was done by design as to hopefully ensure that it wouldn't pass. That seems plausible in this writer's view. Regardless, those actively involved with creating that original draft seemed to  really miss the mark. What I don't understand it that they were given copies of ordinances from several other cities but then seemed to not even look at those.

There seems to be agreement among many that the original permit fees were way too high. From the outset, it was discussed that this needed to be a "nominal" fee and that this was only being done to supposedly bring us into compliance with state law. I'm still not sure that we needed to do anything, but...whatever. A bell has been rung which can't be un-rung, so here we are.

For starters, many businesses for many, many years have been doing hospitality and brown-bagging. There's a precedent for it. But with this foolishness and politicizing we've seen the last couple of months, several business have had to endure an undue and totally unnecessary business hardship, especially WildArt LLC.

I was happy to hear that so many have rallied to support their cause and their Facebook post which shared the petition showing support for these ordinances reached over 10,000 views within a day of being posted. Also, The Covington News ran a very nice piece about this wonderful local business and its owner, Ann Wildmon, in their Sunday edition today.

But getting back to the ordinances themselves, $50 would be great for the permit fee; $100 should be the maximum. Again, "nominal" should be the key word. As I understand it, there's apparently a few folks out there who feel like the fee should higher since the on-premise permit for restaurants that serve alcohol are so high. Well, I think those permits are too high, but why punish these other business owners that won't be even selling alcohol. Let's push to reduce permit fees across the board. And let's not forget that these on-premise establishments are making fairly handsome mark-ups and corresponding margins with their alcohol sales. And why does it have to be an "Us vs. Them" situation. I know for a fact that a lot of folks attending some of these events where hospitality drinks and brown-bagging might occur are also hitting the on-premise spots - the restaurants. Or, if you will, a rising tide lifts all ships. This is just a smart business decision.

Also in the original ordinance was the completely arbitrary and asinine part about only allowing two 2-oz pours in a three hour period. That makes no sense whatsoever. For starters, we oxidize approx. one drink's worth of alcohol per hour. And remember, we're not talking about distilled spirits. The average pour of wine is anywhere from 4 to 6 oz. I believe, at a minimum, that three 4-oz pours needs to be the number if you have to have something in there. I still say that this is totally unenforceable, so we're really just wasting time here, but I have no doubt that some will insist that we have to have something about it. Regardless, and once again, the original draft was unrealistic and seemed to have no real logic or reasoning behind it.

Another thing that has been mentioned by many and that was covered by the The Covington News in their "Our Thoughts" section from today's paper is the verifiable fact that some people who oppose these ordinances have been calling local businesses who are supporting it and threatening their business, and in at least one case, said they were going to pray to God that they go out of business. That's just beyond ludicrous, people, but while Prohibition ended in 1933, the "Temperance Movement" is alive and well in Covington, GA in 2017.

To me, it's more than just alcohol. There are people in our society, in my true belief, that want to control people through government coercion. It's a desiring for and a love for strong government subjugation over other people. For these folks, the problem is that there ISN'T enough government. That there AREN'T enough laws already on the books. That there is TOO MUCH Freedom and Liberty. That the solution to everything is to just have total and absolute control over everything and everybody.

Well, folks, that's not how it works. This is supposed to be American. I look around and see a lot of cognitive dissonance. I see a system that sometimes is inherently unfair and unjust to parts of our society. I look around and I see the same problems that these other folks see and I have a diametrically opposite view: precisely because there already is too much control and subjugation and not enough Freedom & Liberty is why we have a lot of the issues we face on a daily basis in our city, county, state and country. And I also believe this: the fact that there is oftentimes somebody, somewhere with a vested interest in seeing things continue the way they are. It's the two things we've been seeing since the beginning of time: power and money. Almost always, every time. And I truly believe that. Regardless, things aren't working. In some ways it seems like things are slipping away, that the center is fraying. Perhaps it's time to return to our roots. Get away from the revenue model of government. Cast aside the old model for the old, old model. Get back to the basics.

As I mentioned in my weekly column at The News, I hold to the belief that your rights end where mine begin. And preconceived notions, personal opinions, and possible monetary or vested interests should never be used to compromise the rights of others. It's inherently un-American. And that's the ole .02, friends.

But again, tomorrow night - Monday the 7th - at City Hall. 6:30PM. Let your voices heard, Covington. I'll see you then.

Thanks, as always, for reading. Until next time.

- MB McCart