Monday, June 18, 2007

Couple of things

- I could very well be wrong and Charles Baugh might very well be right, but saying that Watkinsville has only brought in $310 since January with regard to its new pour-by-the-drink ordinance doesn't make much sense to me. Then again, I can only think of three restaurants which do serve alcohol in Watkinsville, so Baugh's example may be somewhat accurate, but awfully misleading.

- I agree. A turnout of just 10 percent is pathetic. So ... get out and vote tomorrow.

- J.T.'s column on the blogosphere got folks talking, and I attempted to clarify some thoughts of mine and put up somewhat of a defense of him.

- I have mixed emotions after watching Tiger Woods finish second in consecutive majors. On one hand, I think it's pretty funny that folks have to invent ways to make him seem normal. For example, they kept talking about how he was 0-for-28 in coming from behind during the final round of a major, conveniently ignoring the fact that was he's a perfect 12-0 when either tied for or holding the lead after 54 holes. On the other hand, however, he has looked remarkably human during the final rounds of both The Masters and the U.S. Open. On Sunday, he made some careless approaches to the green and missed more birdie putts than I could count over the final 32 holes. Everyone in front of him did everything they possibly could do to give him a chance, and he couldn't cash in.

- Let me say I'm all on board with this, particularly the workforce development school and the creation of a more interconnected regional economy. I'm just going to pitch my biofuel refinery idea again. Makes sense doesn't it? Agricultural communities surround us, and we have the existing infrastructure to support a refinery to service Northeast Georgia.

- Billy Ramsbottom flip-flops on the Athens-Clarke County Comprehensive Land Use Plan. He was against it long before he was for it!

- As an aside, there's some coming and going among my high school buddies. Russ is headed back home to the A-T-H in three days, while Xon is moving back to Kentucky to teach. Neither one have updated their blog in a while, so there's that.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baugh was on WGAU with that stat last week, and a listener called him on it: Even if $310 on booze taxes is accurate, he doesn't account for the meal that was sold with the booze. In other words, I might not've gone into the restaurant and ordered a meal at all, but for the fact that I could get a beer with it.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous StoptheBS said...

Even if $310 on booze taxes is accurate, he doesn't account for the meal that was sold with the booze.

Boy that is a stretch. The only three restaurant actually selling booze in Watkinsville were all in business well before the booze ordinance was passed. How much more food business do you actually think they are doing because they can sell booze now? Then the city benefits only to the extent of the sales tax on those extra meals.

Of course, I don't go so much now that you can't brown bag, so there's that loss of income. You've always been able to have a beer with your meal, now you just get to pay more for the privilege.

Baugh makes a good point that the booze law is being pushed as an income enhancing action. Yeah, well try to get realistic income figures from the Chamber of Commerce types. According to Blake Aued @ the ABH, ACC with about a hundred bars, restaurants and dives of various descriptions, only makes about $40,000.00 a year on booze tax. It would be a miracle for Oconee County to take in 1/4 that, and if it did, that wouldn't even pay the cost of the auditor that the county is going to have to hire.

BTW, anyone want to know the last time ACC audited the "restaurants" to determine which ones can legally sell booze on Sunday. The 2nd of NEVER.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

I think the argument for Oconee County, however, is that it has considerably more land to develop than Watkinsville proper. So the potential is that by approving this ordinance, you can bring in businesses like Loco's or Applebee's or DePalma's ... businesses that are hesistant or resistent to going for 'brown-bagging' it.

That's what the argument is and why I think Watkinsville is a poor example. There's not really a whole lot more Watkinsville can do to expand its commerical base. The rest of the county, however, is waiting to grow and this can assist with that.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous StoptheBS said...

So the potential is that by approving this ordinance, you can bring in businesses like Loco's or Applebee's or DePalma's ...

Well, I just have to give that comment the big ol' shrug of the shoulders, and a hearty "so what".

Does the whole world have to look like Highway 78 through Snellville, or Athens very own Atlanta Highway.

An Oconee resident living on the most remote road in the county has a whopping 15 (maybe 20) minute drive to Loco's or Depalma's. Trust me, I lived on Black Ike Road for a while. Look that one up. You learn survival skills such as stocking up on beer on Saturday, because when you run out on Sunday, you've had too much and it's too far to drive for more. Especially since the bootlegger in Watkinsville shut down, and they busted the bootlegger in Greene County for selling coke--- horizontal integration I believe they referred to it as.

I mean exactly where did this theory of the "divine right" of businesses to operate wherever they want to develop?

Maybe we want to protect our artisan restaurants from the onslaught of the cookie cutter chains.

What is funny about this whole debate is that right now Oconee County is more "open" or "llberal" about having a drink with a meal than Clarke. First there is no license for the business owner if he wants to allow people to drink with their meal. Secondly, you can have a cocktail, a beer or wine with your meal or some of all, with no government interference. It is the perfect free market situation.

In Clarke, the non-imbibers pay a cost of the licensing, inventory and floor space for the drinkers.

BTW I always find using DePalma's interesting, as they gave up their pouring license because the cost to keep it was too much. And you can't have a drink in the nudy bars ---what's with that.

I find the attention to the Oconee proposal to outlawing brown bagging amusing. Not even the free state of ACC outlaws brown bagging if the establishment does not have a beer and wine license (Mamma's Boy, the former Caliente Cab, there may be others). Why the insistence on outlawing brown bagging, which apparently has received wide commercial and social acceptance in Oconee County? My thought is that the "leaders" know that beer and wine licenses would not be commercially viable without forcing the imbibers into the licensed establishments.

As to development, it is not as if Oconee County consists of vast tracts of virgin forests, awaiting the civilizing effect of the publican's axe.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about this argument? It's the 21st Century, this is America, we're talking about adults here, and it's just common freakin' sense that I ought to be able to sit down at Roberto's and order a glass of wine with my dinner?

I'm sorry if it bothers you that someone might actually make a profit by developing a business, but this ain't no hippy commune, and where I sit profit's a good thing. Besides, if Bike Athens insists on bike lanes for the 10 Loop and Highway 316, then we need the taxes generated by successful businsses to pay for 'em.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous StopALLtheBS said...

How about this argument? It's the 21st Century, this is America, we're talking about adults here, and it's just common freakin' sense that I ought to be able to sit down at Roberto's and order a glass of wine with my dinner?

Now there's a cogent argument. I'm an adult, I should get to do what I want when I want for no other reason than I want to do it there and then. Of course a 2 year old makes the same argument.

At least you can go to Roberto's and order the wine glass, and if you've ever actually been there, you know what I mean.

But as we are talking matters of common sense, how about we agree that you can order a glass of wine at Roberto's the day after I can order a glass of wine at Mama's Boy.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

But you're putting up a false choice. Athens-Clarke County permits sale of by-the-drink alcohol, and Mama's Boy chooses to go for the brown bag.

(Actually, they may not. There might be a zoning issue at work.)

Oconee County, and Roberto's, by contrast, don't have that luxury. That establishment is forced to rely on brown bagging it.

So much for that free market you were touting so highly.

8:36 PM  
Blogger hillary said...

Yeah. It's a zoning issue at Mama's Boy. As it is at Cali N Tito's. Personally, I say to hell with it. I don't see why you can't serve alcohol next to a church or an elementary school.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Xon said...

some of the churches I've been to...

9:19 AM  
Blogger Nicki said...

(Actually, they may not. There might be a zoning issue at work.)

Yeah, Mama's Boy is too close to the church with Our Daily Bread.

But honestly, I haven't commented on this issue because I DON'T CARE. I don't live there, for starters, but here are a few considerations: 1. It's probably better for Athens if it doesn't pass, 2. Convenience is not a public good. And arguably it's in fact bad to allow easier access to a substance which is addictive and dangerous for some portion of the population. So really, whether liquor is available by the drink is a matter of preference.

So, whatever the voters of 'kinsville decide is fine by me.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous PleasestoptheBS said...

Mama's Boy chooses to go for the brown bag.

No they don't. It's not zoning, it's part of the alcohol ordinance. They are not allowed to serve alcohol.

So much for that free market you were touting so highly.

Having to buy an expensive license from the government to engage in business (in addition to the licenses you already have to buy), and then having your business audited for compliance with the term of that license is hardly consistent with anyone's idea of free enterprise.

BTW the nekkid wimmen places can't serve booze either. I am sure there are those who would like to offer a toast to these young ladies as they assert their First Amendment rights. I don't see the free thinking citizens of Clarke County getting worked up over that.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Xon said...

Convenience is not a public good.

But liberty is.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Nicki said...

Yeah, but what's liberty? Is liberty the right to smoke indoors? Is it the right to dispose waste in a manner that's harmful to others? Is it the right to drive while drunk? Is it the right to do cocaine in public? Liberty is a morally ambiguous proposistion.

And again, I don't really care. It's nice to have a drink at a bar. But then, I haul wine to Mama's Boy regularly, and I'm pretty sure 'kinsvillians can do the same. It's merely a question of what they want to do.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Xon said...

Any of these abstractions get to be morally ambiguous propositions when challenged, though. Your "convenience" wouldn't fare any better, I don't think.

That conceded, reports of liberty's demise as a useful concept have been greatly exagerrated, methinks.

There are a number of different kinds of "liberalism," which each hold a different notion of "liberty." But the more modern forms of liberalism are basically variations on the theme of the classical version, with this or that tweak or disagreement thrown in. So the classical liberal definition of "liberty" is as good a place to start as any. Liberty is the ability to dispose of your life and property as you see fit (And your property includes your body), consistent with the same abilitly being maintained for everyone else.

So by liberty I really mean that his should be a property rights issue and nothing more. The owner of the restaraunt should decide what kind of restaraunt he or she wants to have. If I want to be a place that families like to come to, I can go that route. If I want to be a place that bikers want to come to, I can go that route, etc. It's my restaraunt, at least so long as I'm financially able to keep it going, so I can do with it as I wish.

In your house, you can decide whether people are allowed to smoke or drink or not. In Bob's restaraunt, Bob should get to make the same call.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Stopthe BS said...

In Bob's restaraunt, Bob should get to make the same call.

Which is exactly what Bob gets to do in Oconee County right now, without the obligation of having to pay for the privilege.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

stopthebs, I'm not entirely sure where you're going with your argument.

I don't think anyone in Athens-Clarke County is 'worked up' over anything. I think we had some commentary on the Oconee County alcohol discussion.

I mean, you say you support 'brown-bagging' as a viable option, but you reference free enterprise.

Wouldn't the logical choice, then, be to permit by-the-drink sales and then individual businesses can choose to stick to brown bagging or sell alcohol by the drink?

1:46 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

And your position doesn't make sense? How does Bob get to make a choice at all here? What if Bob really wants to sell by the drink so he can pick up additional revenue?

Right now, in Oconee County, he is not permitted to do that. We can haggle over ordinances which restrict sales near schools or churches later ... the fact of the matter now is there is no choice in Oconee County. To say one exists is misleading.

Why not give Bob the option to either not sell alcohol, sell alcohol by the drink or permit brown-bagging?

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Stopthe BS said...

Why not give Bob the option to either not sell alcohol, sell alcohol by the drink or permit brown-bagging?

Well, it's clear that you are not familiar with the way "brown bagging" works. All the restaurants that allow it charge a "corkage" fee (sometimes called a "set up" in other venues), which is traditional anywhere BYOB is allowed. Even some very expensive restaurants do this if one wants to bring one's own wine. No one objects to this, as it allows the establishment to make a "profit" without really having to make any investment. So it's not like the restaurant is being cut out of a profit opportunity. The only entity being cut out is the government which does not get to tax the "corkage fee" beyond the usual sales tax. Boo Hoo. The irony is that Bob can charge his corkage fee 24/7, and the good citizens can drink their own booze 24/7/365.

Now the brown bagging issue is interesting. The powers that be that have already drafted the propose ordinance before going through the motions of public input, and are explicit about outlawing brown bagging. There have been no complaints about brown bagging, and it has not been a source of any problems. So why is it necessary to outlaw it? Because Oconee County is too small to support any considerable number of pouring establishments. Therefore the COC types that have so much riding on this, have to make sure the mom and pop's and their quaint corkage fees don't offer any competition to the chain places that are going to improve the quality of life in Oconee County.

So the question about why not give Bob that choice needs to be addressed more to the powers that be than to me, because I could live with leaving it to the market to decide.

Anyway all this is interesting, but I guess my main objection is the dishonest way that this is being pushed by the COC in that Oconee County will supposedly receive all this extra revenue, but you can't pin anyone down on how much, and you especially can't pin any one down on the costs of implementation compared to income.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

Actually (and again, I don't care) the choice is not necessarily neutral. Very few restaurants in ACC do not sell alcohol. Because it is legal, and it has become something which one will be at a competitive disadvantage without.

So it's not necessarily that Watkinsville is allowing restaurant owners choice -- simply that they are allowing different choices with different implications.

(and xon, making it easier for people to drink is highly analagous to making it easier for people to do illegal drugs. It's why, among other things, other states and muicipalities have controlled sales very differently. State stores, tokens, portion bottles, portions of sales, etc.)

2:45 PM  
Blogger Xon said...

So the question about why not give Bob that choice needs to be addressed more to the powers that be than to me, because I could live with leaving it to the market to decide.

Well, how to put this delicately...nobody DID "address" this question to you. I responded to a point that Nicki made. She said that she's torn on the issue b/c, hey, convenience ain't a public good. I said liberty was a public good. She said "Libery? What is liberty, that I should be mindful of it?" I then gave a very quick defense of the property rights of the restaraunt owner. You then came through and claimed that the rest. owner has full property rights right now. But this just isn't true, as JMac has pointed out.

Your explanation of brown bagging doesn't change the basic fact, that I can see, that the restaraunt owner is not currently able to purchase and store his own alcoholic beverages at his restaraunt. That is a lack of freedom, regardless of whether he is allowed to charge a corking fee for the services his local goverhment does deign to allow him to provide. When I say his property rights are being restricted, I'm not saying that he cannot still turn a profit--I'm saying it doesn't matter. He should be able to run his business the way he sees fit.

As to directing our "question" to the local authorities, right. That's what we're discussing: is it a good policy for the civil aurhorities in Watkinsville/Oconee Cty to make it illegal to serve alcohol in restaraunts? That's the question we are considering here.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Xon said...

Nicki said:

(and xon, making it easier for people to drink is highly analagous to making it easier for people to do illegal drugs. It's why, among other things, other states and muicipalities have controlled sales very differently. State stores, tokens, portion bottles, portions of sales, etc.)

I'm not sure what the point is here. It seems to me that if we are talking about a "public good", that it is good for the people (i.e. the public) to live in a society in which they are given latitude to make their own mistakes. I'm enough of a libertarian myself that I don't even flinch at the drug analogy: bring 'em on, I say.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

Xon, I think you missed my point. Liberty is neutral unless it's leavened by other moral considerations. So liberty is not, in and of itself, generally a compelling reason to do something. In fact, I would argue that liberty is the opposite of a public good in some cases, particularly when it allows property owners to abuse their neighbors.

And my point regarding regulation of liquor is that we are not perfectly free to consume liquor, regardless of what options we have available to us. We have varying levels of access, but we are not free, for example, to consume absinthe. We are not free to drink and drive, even if no one is hurt. In Pennsylvania you are not free to double fist. The public good is what informs most of these distinctions and in all cases we have a market subject to government oversight and regulation. It is also facilitated by the government, so there is a quid pro quo. Second, there is a causality between access to alcohol and the likelihood of abusing it and causing harm to the public -- all states place some restrictions upon this in order to preserve some amount of public health and safety. So in sum liberty in this case is illusory and arbitrary.

Again, I don't care what Watkinsville decides. But I do believe it is Watkinsville's right to choose either path.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous StopALLtheBS said...

When I say his property rights are being restricted, I'm not saying that he cannot still turn a profit--I'm saying it doesn't matter. He should be able to run his business the way he sees fit.

Well Nikki points out, in an organized society, he is not going to be able to do that in some ways. The question is what ways. While you might get style points at the monthly meeting of the Ayn Rand club for advocating such free booting economics, in truth, neither you nor anyone else really wants such a thing.

Otherwise, I'm all for a bar out front with top shelf booze, and some fancy ladies in back with assorted psychotropic modifiers and enhancers.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Xon said...

Actually, guys, I'm not such a crazed libertarian as all that. (Ayn Rand? Shudder.) I do recognize that the market is subject to restrictions, and I agree with Nicki that liberty by itself is "neutral", sort of. But the vast majortiy of human actions are not immoral, and so moral considerations should end up siding with letting liberty be liberty in the vast majority of cases.

We are not talking about a child porn ring here, but about a restaraunteur deciding whether or not to serve a perfectly legal beverage on his own people to those who request it. I don't see what "moral considerations" come in on this situation.

Although, I greatly admire Nicki's desire to let local communities do what they think is best, and I support that, too. I would never advocate, for instance, some higher level of gov't coming in and stomping on Watkinsville if it chooses the "wrong" direction. But I do think that banning alcohol sales in restaraunts would be the wrong decision, and in any community in which I liveed I would hope no such law would be passed and would argue against it. That's all.

1:34 PM  

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