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Friday, June 12, 2009

Hunter Backs Beer in Parks and Chamber Usurpation of City Power

First the city thumbs its nose at the garden club vote; now Madison Daily Leader Jon Hunter risks disagreement with a key subscriber demographic by coming out in support of a new permit process for alcohol in city parks:

Most people recognize that public intoxication is bad, and that we generally shouldn't allow alcohol to be openly consumed in all public places. But its reasonable to say that under the right circumstances, alcohol should be allowed.

The new policy will likely allow alcohol in park shelters with a permit that could be more easily obtained [Jon Hunter, "City's Alcohol Policy in Parks is Prudent Change," Madison Daily Leader, 2009.06.11].

I'm not sure how well "prudent" describes any action that makes it easier to consume alcohol.

Worse, our man Hunter expresses support for Commissioner Delzer's suggestion that the city should cede its authority over the city-owned railroad depot to the unelected Chamber of Commerce:

The Depot is owned by the city, but the old railroad depot building is used as offices for the Chamber and the Lake Area Improvement Corporation, and isn't similar to a public park. An occasional wine and cheese reception there would certainly be reasonable [Hunter, 2009.06.11].

Cheese and wine at the Chamber is certainly reasonable. But it is also perfectly reasonable that the Chamber, which receives public funds and enjoys the constant and exclusive use of space in a publicly-owned building, should have to follow rules set by the city. If it is reasonable that the city expect you and me to plan ahead and request permission to serve beer at a family picnic in Baughmann-Belatti Park, it is equally reasonable that the city expect the Chamber to plan ahead for its little functions and request permission to serve alcohol in the public space we taxpayers so graciously permit them to monopolize.

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