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Letter To The Editor

Poorly Crafted Ordinance Needs Undoing

Dear Editor, 

Nine businesses in Water Valley deal with beer. They represent a spectrum of wholesale, retail, manufacture, on-premise consumption, and off-premise consumption. Each is subject to numerous federal, state, and county regulations. 

One would think that if our city was going to impose an additional set of regulations on these businesses, the city fathers (or their attorney) would consult with the owners and managers of the businesses. If there were problems related to beer that weren’t covered by the existing web of regulation, the city could ask the businesses for help in resolving these issues. 

They might ask questions like “How can we, in the least burdensome manner, make rules that affect your business but that we believe are necessary for the well-being of our citizens?” And “How can we do it in a way that makes your business more efficient or  more competitive?” 

That was not the case. None of the businesses were consulted before the issuance of the new ordinance. Instead the authors of the new beer ordinance apparently went to the internet and cherry picked restrictive regulatory clauses from the dark recesses of temperance morality. 

The result is a poorly crafted ordinance that not only flies in the face of the express will of the people—who (I know, I keep saying this) voted 3 to 1 in the city in favor of beer legalization in 2007—but that also imposes excessive burdens on the owners, operators, and employees of the businesses. The ordinance also makes any potential investor in a beer-related business in Water Valley look for other more business friendly venues in which to invest. 

And those supposed “problems” that the new ordinance is supposed to resolve have not been publicly articulated by the people who wrote the ordinance. Why shouldn’t beer be sold cold? Why do beer establishments need more restrooms than places that sell 40-ounce sugar drinks? Why must a beer-selling establishment be situated 50 feet further from a church than a whisky-selling business? Why are pool tables prohibited in beer businesses, but nowhere else in the community? Why must beer businesses discriminate in the hiring of people who have been convicted of a crime and have paid their debt to society? Why can’t beer sellers advertise their legal products in the same way that cigarette and whiskey seller advertise their products? 

This ordinance needs undoing. 

Best regards, 

Cliff Lawson

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