By Gary J. Groman, a.k.a. The Ole Seagull
There’s a general saying that has been around for a long time, “You don’t hunt mice and elephants with the same gun.” Unfortunately, it appears the city of Branson’s proposed new liquor control Ordinances (LCOs) is taking an elephant gun approach to solving a mouse sized problem. It’s not a matter of whether or not Branson can or should enact new LCOs, it can and should; it’s a matter of scope and efficiency.
The major, publically stated, problems involving the sale and serving of alcohol in Branson involve the encroachment of the serving of alcohol into Branson’s traditional family friendly theatres and entertainment venues, underage drinking, consumption of alcoholic beverages in areas open to the public that are away from the premises licensed to serve or sell them, and limiting the number of package sales licenses issued by the city. Can anyone share with the Ole Seagull how the creation and funding of the new post of “Liquor Czar,” whoops, sorry, the Ole Seagull means “Director of Liquor Control, (Director) and their accompanying paperwork empire will have a real impact on solving those problems?
Although there are those who object to any increase in government regulations over their businesses, the major area of controversy and objection with the new LCOs being proposed by the city appears to involve the Director. Although there is some concern with costs that may be associated with the position, most of the concern seems to focus on how that person is designated and the broad sweeping scope of their powers.
The definition of “Director” in the LCOs states, “Unless otherwise described means the Director of Liquor Control as designated by the mayor or board of aldermen as well as any person designated by the director to act on his or her behalf.” Can anyone name one other instance where the mayor has the authority to designate a city employee? This isn’t an appointment to a park or zoning board. It is the designation of a person to whom the LCOs gives a lot of authority with the potential to establish their own little kingdom within the government of the city of Branson and impact directly on the operation of a lot of Branson’s businesses.
How much effort would it have taken to change the wording to read, “Unless otherwise described means the Director of Liquor Control as well as any person designated by the director to act on his or her behalf” and eliminate potential problems in this area? In an Ole Seagull’s opinion, not much and that illustrates the problem. If the board won’t correct an obvious defect like this what chance is there that it will respond to some of the other concerns involving the Director?
Can anyone tell an Ole Seagull how the LCO’s six and a half pages of Article III, entitled “Applications,” do that much more, if anything, to solve the major publically stated problems involving the sale and serving of alcohol in Branson than do the state’s current licensing requirements? And giving the Director the authority to require businesses to file a report of “Any loan made to the licensee of money, or credit relating directly or indirectly to the licensed business” helps solve those problems how?
What makes it ludicrous is that the very first sentence of Article IV states, “The director is authorized to issue a license, as described in this article, to persons qualified by the state division of alcohol and tobacco control,…” Wait, does that mean the city can’t issue a license unless the state issues one first? Yes. Does the state have requirements that have to be met to get a license? Yes. Has it been alleged any of the major publically stated problems involving the sale and serving of alcohol in Branson have been caused by efficiencies in the state licensing process? No.
The duplication of paperwork submitted to the state and additional licensing requirements required by the LCOs will help solve the major publically stated problems involving the sale and serving of alcohol in Branson how? Again, it’s not a matter of whether or not Branson can or should enact new LCOs, it can and should; it’s a matter of scope and efficiency. For what it matters, in an Ole Seagull’s opinion, the proposed LCOs go so far beyond the scope of what is necessary that they obscure the basic problems the process was started to solve.