Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sacramento's Bad Idea

Let's talk politics a bit, shall we? The City of Sacramento is considering a new fee required for anyone who sells alcohol within their city limits - $1,000 per year, regardless of size or permit type. This is over and above all other State licenses and permits, including the $800 ABC fees that are supposed to be used for things like education and what-not. $1,000 dollars a year! Think about that for a few seconds, does it make sense to you? It doesn't for me. Here's a few reasons why.

First, I don't understand why. The ABC fees business owners pay the state already help fund programs designed to educate kids on the 'dangers of alcohol' - oh, if only they'd learn about the dangers of the crap they eat and drink everyday at school. And, more than doubling the ABC fee is nothing short of excessive for small business owners and I really can't see how a City of Sacramento's size and makeup can justify it.

The Sacramento Bee has this wonderful quote too:
Councilman Steve Cohn said the city has a growing problem with establishments serving minors or becoming an eyesore in their neighborhood. He said a new permit would that make it easier for city investigators to put nuisance establishments out of business.
Uh... hold on a minute. How, exactly, will charging business owners help improve run down liquor stores? Should we charge more taxes to old churches who don't care for their buildings or grounds? What about that old, run-down Mexican restaurant I love so much - the one that doesn't sell beer? That sentiment from a Councilman is nothing short of absurd.

Here's the gist of the story:

The city of Sacramento is considering requiring all 925 businesses that sell alcohol in town -- bars, liquor stores, neighborhood marts and supermarkets -- to obtain a special license. The city would use fees from the permit -- $1,000 for each establishment, regardless of size -- to fund annual inspections and an educational outreach program targeting underage drinking and drunken driving.

Details about how the ordinance would work and what it would do remain sketchy. City staffers are drafting the measure with input from business owners, although some say the city has been slow in asking their opinion. A proposal is expected to go before the City Council's law and legislation committee in the next couple of months. The full council must approve the measure for it to take effect.

"If it's revenue that helps kids stay out of trouble and helps reduce injuries because of drunken driving or doing something stupid, then it's definitely a good thing," said police spokesman Matt Young.

Now, I read this and see one of two things. First, I wonder if there's a prohibitionist mentality here, a city council and police department who look at the troubles of a community and blindly say alcohol is the problem. I think of this and push it out of my mind for a more likely scenario, option two. I can't help but think there is ONE group this law will benefit: mega-stores and grocery chains, those who sell nothing but national brands of questionable quality.
"Over the years, everything goes up -- whether it's workman's comp or utilities, all the insurance. But politicians don't look at big picture," he said. "For the mom and pop stores, fees like this are making it a tough go."
I don't know. I just know I think this is nothing short of a bad idea. Again from the Bee:
Joe Robillard, an administrator in the Sacramento office of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control unit, said Oakland, Los Angeles and other cities have passed similar alcohol ordinances with "mixed results."
I'd sure like to know more about these 'mixed' results. I don't like the idea of City or other governments imposing what is essentially a new tax, but calling it a "fee" instead. That just seems wrong.

Other items of concern here are some of the comments made by locals about the issue

Well, if they don't want to pay an alcohol fee then STOP SELLING THE CRAP IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Either way we look at it, alcohol is a problem and how is this society going to prevent more deaths, more people getting thrown in jail for alcohol related accidents, and more deaths/illnesses due to alcohol consumption.

People need to wake up and understand that alcohol is considered by MANY experts to be the absolute worst drug available. Partly because it is widely sold and socially acceptable.

We all know that Prohibition didn't work the first time, partly because society at the time wasn't weaned off of it.

I think they should limit the number of places that alcohol is sold to only liquor stores where one HAS to be 21 just to walk into the store and only have so many stores allowed. Then you tax it and have the taxes go to various programs to help people get off of it. Also, raise fines/sentencing for DUIs.

We need more activities that don't promote alcohol and advertising needs to stop. (Out of sight, out of mind.)

And then there's this...
Who cares? Raising money for alcohol education for todays youth is priceless in itself. Ask the store owners who have children as opposed to the ones who do not and you will probably get a very different answer on the topic. Selling a potentially dangerous substance comes with financial responsibilities as well.
And this guy...
it's a constant bombardment of alcohol consumption; directing us to imagine the wonderful life we can have if you drink this or that. Truth is that going out is a pain becasue of all the drunks. I am not talking about the transients in the streets, but rather the 3 piece suits(male and female) sitting at the next booh, counter, seats in most venues throughout Sacramento. I went to a function at Fairy Tale Town once and they were serving wine! A childrens amuzement park and they were serving alcohol....geez!
for those that think that alcohol is OK to have in this society, go read about alcoholism, go to AA meetings and listen to other people's stories. What about the rights of the people that DON'T want to be exposed to alcohol, alcoholics, and drunken drivers? What about the children that DON'T have a say so in this matter?

Here is a little test. for those that drink, go on a vacation somewhere where there is no alcohol, no advertising and no one drinking. Kind of a like a retreat into the mountains. then when your done with that month long retreat, then notice how much bombardment of alcohol advertising, alcoholics, drunken drivers, etc. etc. then see if that doesn't change your mind.

I would LOVE to be able to walk into a nice restaurant where there aren't any alcohol beverage signs, no bottles in sight and no one in the place drinking so I can enjoy my meal without listening to drunks.
Again, hard to believe the Capital City of our Nation's biggest economy seems hell-bent on hurting small businesses and creating pseudo taxes, selling it to the public out of nothing but fear. If you live in Sacramento, I'd suggest picking up the phone now and calling your city reps, let them know what you think.