Alcohol Sales Tops List Of Dumb Ideas
Hernando TodayThe issue: Buying alcoholic beverages and having county employees sell them at special community events.
Published: March 29, 2009
Published: March 29, 2009
Our opinion: Have county commissioners completely lost their minds?
In the annals of dumbest government ideas, one OK'd by four of five county commissioners on Tuesday has to come close to topping the lamebrain list.
The following is actually true: Commissioners voted 4-1, with Chairman David Russell dissenting, to purchase beer and wine and have county employees sell it at the upcoming Reggae Fest at Linda Pedersen Park in Hernando Beach.
If all goes well and the county can make some money, commissioners agreed they'd continue to promote the sale of alcohol at other special community events.
That's right. The county is going to buy alcoholic beverages and have county workers sell them to the general public at county parks.
We can see it now. A sign welcoming the public to the county liquor stand. Come one, come all. Imbibe and have a great time, but don't get too drunk. (Wink, wink.)
The idea is to generate revenue for the county's declining coffers during these tough economic times.
Here are a few other ideas county commissioners might want to consider during festivals to bring in a few more bucks:
Sell 50-50 raffle tickets on who passes out or gets thrown out of the festival first.
Commissioners could play quarters with other drinking contestants. All proceeds collected would go to the county.
Take bets on who could chug the most beer or be the first to throw up in public.
Each hour, offer a free beer to the person who has the most hand stamps.
Sell cigarettes. As a government, the county could probably buy smokes tax-free and sell them at festivals for a tidy profit.
Run games of chance like Bingo and poker. Commissioner Jim Adkins would make a perfect black jack dealer or roulette wheel spinner. Commissioner Rose Rocco could call out the numbers.
Better yet, host a dunk tank with each commissioner taking turns at $5 a pop. Comedian Commissioner Jeff Stabins could probably pull $10 a ball. Bet that would raise a lot of cash for the county.
Anyway, you get the point.
Crazy is the first word that comes to mind. Irresponsible is the second.
We understand that property taxes and other revenues are drying up, layoffs are imminent and county officials are facing some tough financial decisions. (Like how to keep the $37.4 million in tax dollars they've already squirreled away.)
But government promotion of alcohol sales to the public, which includes alcoholics and folks who have a bad habit of driving drunk, has got to be one of the worst ideas we've heard of in a long time.
Maybe commissioners are still suffering the hangover of spending tax dollars like drunken sailors?
Whatever the cause, this nutty idea simply cannot stand.
Add to it the extra cost in liability insurance, obtaining a permit, hiring off-duty sheriff's deputies to provide security and paying county park employees to work the liquor stands and any potential revenue opportunities would hardly make it worth the effort. That doesn't even take into consideration the ethical and moral dilemmas of government-sponsored public drunkenness.
What's that worth - $1,000, $2,500, perhaps even $5,000 in additional revenues to the county?
How could that be worth the morning after someone at one of the festivals gets into vehicle accident and somebody gets killed?
Selling alcohol to make a profit is not a function of government nor should it ever be. A more likely scenario is the county will end up losing money on this foolish idea. Ever known government to make money on anything?
If commissioners want to try to cash in on selling alcoholic beverages to the public at community events, they should adopt an ordinance that allows civic and other nonprofit groups to buy permits from the county to host such events. The county would make a few bucks on the permit while shielding itself from liability. Those civic organizations could use the money generated from such events to promote their good works in the community.
If something went terribly wrong, the county wouldn't have any blood on its hands. We could all go to sleep at night knowing that our government is looking out for our best interests instead of trying to make money off society's vices.