Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On Liquor License Rebates, Protectionism

There he goes again. Greg Helding is initiating another plan to discourage business start ups. Previous efforts have targeted convenience stores, landlords, and short term loan businesses. This one targets restaurants and taverns seeking a Class B liquor license. The JT has the story here.

According to the JT article, some time ago the state passed a law limiting the number of liquor licenses that could be issued in a given community. The law also allowed cities to exceed the limit by selling reserve licenses for $10,000. In 1998 under former Mayor Jim Smith the city started to issue rebates of $9,500 to help businesses that were restricted by state law. Greg Helding wants to end the rebates.

"To me, it doesn't make sense to (offer the rebate), because the whole point was to limit the number of licenses available and make the existing licenses a little bit more valuable" Greg Helding said. Helding added that the license quota exists to limit liquor licenses and reduce its negative impact on a community. Also it would be an additional revenue source for the city.

Heldings measure appears to meet with the approval of the liquor union, ie tavern owners, who enthusiastically support efforts to limit competition for themselves. Multiple tavern owner Joey LeGath doubtfully would support measures limiting his number of taverns, but he doesn't mind sticking would-be competitors with a $10,000 disadvantage. And if he or others in the tavern union are concerned about the "negative impact" that their businesses have on the community, there is nothing preventing them from closing their bars.

Just the other day I complemented Greg Helding for being a stand-up guy who often takes the time to articulate his positions on the various Racine blogs. So I hope he answers the following questions. Why should the government be in the business of making "existing licenses a little bit more valuable?" Is the additional value derived exclusively via a state induced reduction in competition? If so, why should government reward current license holders while punishing prospective license holders? Does the $10,000 in any way have a mitigating effect on the "negative effect" of Class B license establishments? And finally, do you really think that restaurants negatively impact our community?

And for readers, this issue is up for discussion on December 7th, 5 pm, City Hall, Room 205 if you want to add your two cents.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Politicians Welcome on Free Racine

Yesterday I had a chance encounter with a Racine alderman who took the opportunity to criticize my blog and my failure to call him prior to writing my blog entries. When pressed repeatedly to clarify his concerns, he could not, but he did repeat that I should have called him.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day trying to process this bizarre conversation. I still don't know what to make of it, but the encounter does provide me the opportunity to clarify the purpose of this blog.

Aside from amusing myself, the purpose of this blog is to stimulate public discussion on public issues. I try to be very clear on my positions and I realize that my positions are quite regularly in opposition to those presently in power. Furthermore, I spend little or no time writing about that which I find agreeable, as I find that boring. Ideally, my blog entries would be considered the start of a conversation. The best conversations do not shy away from differences but rather explore them seriously and respectfully. The end result would hopefully leave participants and readers alike with an elevated understanding of the issue at hand.

Needless to say, I am especially interested in the positions held by officials who are elected to represent our interests in public matters. In the past I have encouraged elected officials to get involved and clarify their thinking on matters of importance. Unfortunately, with the exception of Alderman Greg Helding, few have done so.

Hopefully the alderamn in question now understands why I haven't called him. I am not especially interested in private conversations concerning public issues, nor am I able to anticipate the needs of local politicians that I don't even know. Of course any polician is free to call me if they wish to do so on the record. But it would be far preferable in my view if our elected officials would take the time to engage the public on public issues. And it is my hope that they will do so on Free Racine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Random Thoughts

Now that Fort Hood terrorist Nidal Hasan is both alive and permanently paralyzed, what becomes of the 64 frustrated virgins?

I spent the better part of the weekend paying tolls in Illinios and wishing I had signed up for I-PASS which would have made driving both faster and cheaper. Now I am not advocating a tax increase here in Wisconsin, but if we ever went that route, I like the name WIPASS.

Language in the 2000 page spread-the-wealth-around-bill, er, health insurance overhall, may well result in the end of health savings accounts. HSA's enable me to properly insure myself and my family via a pre-tax high deductible health care plan. But if I like my insurance, I have been reassured by President Obama, I can keep it. I don't believe him.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Triple Dip Recession Avoided

President Obama has for the first time acknowledged the possibility of a double dip recession. But at least it won't be a triple dip recession that we would have had without him.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kay's Blue House of Unwanted Children

Sometimes I like to go to Kay's Blue Racine to stir things up. She has a rant going that I didn't bother to read but I was struck by one of her comments thereafter when she wrote "Its the idea that abortion is still in the mix that kills me." I responded with "Kills you?" just to see what kind of firestorm would ensue. There were a few standard liberal responses followed by this gem from Kay: "Denis, if you don't have a house full of unwanted children you really do need to shut up."

Hmmm. Since Kay has children and since Kay is eligible to weigh in on abortion, we can conclude that Kay has a house full of unwanted children.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Green Idea #1

Racine has a couple of meter maids/parking enforcement personnel that drive around all day in a van. Now perhaps there is some reason to have a van but it is not apparent to me. What is apparent is that they really do not need a performance vehicle of any sort so perhaps it could save money, and perhaps the world, if they switched over to a smaller car or one of those modified golf carts that are starting to crop up around the country. But only if it saves taxpayer money, of course.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Navratil Volunteers for Environmental Advisory Board

Recently appointed Racine alderman Kelli Stein has suggested the creation of a new Environmental Advisory Board. The Racine Post has the story, read it here.

From the Post: "Stein's idea, modeled on several other cities around the country, is to create a strictly advisory board that would develop ideas to protect and promote the environment in Racine. Interestingly, Stein didn't recommend the board because she's a staunch environmentalist trying to save the world one solar panel at a time. She's doing it because it's an opportunity to lure new businesses to the city."

And, "Stein already had two people express interest in serve on the board, and she hopes others will apply. She even encouraged people who are skeptical of the board to get involved and bring" NOTE, the incomplete sentence is quoted directly from the Racine Post and as such is not my fault.

So they want a skeptic, do they? I am in. I think I have established myself as a leading local enviroskeptic, isn't that right Walden students? I am also a businessman so I know a thing or two about what does and doesn't attract businesses. The only potential problem is that I don't live in Racine. However, since the board has yet to be created, it can be created to include interested parties from outside Racine. Certainly people from outside Racine have ideas about the environment/business development, so it would serve Racine's interests to broaden the potential pool of candidates willing to help. I will call the mayor's office this morning to volunteer to serve the board as the non-resident skeptic.

My concern is that they may not really want a skeptic on the board. But then, as a skeptic, of course I would think that. Perhaps I am overqualified.