MONEY TALKS - Thank goodness government can now protect us from everything

The alcohol in the park issue is dead, and I can't say how pleased I am, not just for the decision itself, but about the precedents this whole incident has set. City council has determined (by not determining anything the issue was never brought to a vote) that Berry's will not get to serve alcohol in Bresson Park.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

The alcohol in the park issue is dead, and I can't say how pleased I am, not just for the decision itself, but about the precedents this whole incident has set.

City council has determined (by not determining anything the issue was never brought to a vote) that Berry's will not get to serve alcohol in Bresson Park.

I, for one, will remember this come election day. I would like to thank council for getting the ball rolling, and put them on notice: Follow through, or else.

After this decision, the city better not show anyone preferential treatment, give anyone a competitive advantage or cut any business a "sweet deal."

That means the revolving loan fund is kaput. That means Bethany Dentler and the whole Norwalk Economic Development Corporation had better close up shop, because what will she do all day long if government won't be handing out tax abatements and grants to attract businesses?

Come to think of it, if the city wants to be consistent, it had better stop upkeeping the sewer and water systems. After all, that's giving all those businesses with city sewer and water a competitive advantage over those businesses without. And while we're at it, ditto for roads and sidewalks.

Furthermore, I am glad to see that council is ready to crack down on everything that can be misused, like drinking. I can't wait to be saved from myself, and I can't wait to see what's next. My suggestion: guns.

Congress can't get it together on gun control. But we didn't let the fact that they dropped the ball on prohibition stop us, so I don't see why we should let them spoil our fun taking away everyone's guns. Now, I know, it's a "sporting arm" and it's guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, but sorry, precedent has spoken. No guns.

For that matter more people die every year from car accidents than from shootings, so: No cars.

Even more people die from the various ill-effects of obesity, so McDonald's, Wendy's and Taco Bell: Adios.

Now I know some of you spoil-sports out there are going to be concerned about losing all that business. But businesses love safety, security and a clear and reliable system of laws. Just wait for the flood of new business mostly in the form of a black market. And to those nay-sayers out there, let me pre-emptively label you anti-business.

I agreed with everyone who was concerned about showing Berry's special treatment just because it is a business. Therefore, I am pleased to see that the restaurant is in fact being singled out as a second-class citizen. Sure Berry's, its owners, and its employees have all paid their taxes just like everyone else, but why should they get to use the public parks for whatever they want?

Individuals should be tacitly allowed to drink in the parks (which happens all the time) because they have no incentive to keep their behavior under control they can simply walk away whenever they want. But Berry's lives next to Bresson Park. Their name is on a lease. They have an inherent responsibility to keep things under control. Good thing we nipped that in the bud.

Perhaps the precedent I am most looking forward to the city enforcing is the one about freedom and rights in a democratic society. The old model was, at least ideally, that in a free society, the government needed compelling, unquestionable reasons of public safety to say 'no' to anything. The burden of proof was on them.

Now, thank goodness, that will all change. Now, assume the answer is 'no,' until the government feels like telling you otherwise. And if you're very nice, the government may allow you to fill out the green forms in triplicate on the even days of the month as long as you are over the age of 25 otherwise it's the goldenrod forms in quadruplicate.

Then, maybe, the city will let you step outside your house ... in four to six weeks, unless they're experiencing a backlog, and then it's in eight to 12.

Many people feel we dodged a bullet on the the alcohol in the park issue. It's far more than that. It's precedent.

Comments

Van Allen (Anon...

Can one say with confidence that the Norwalk Ohio Comprehesive Plan (www.norwalkoh.com/plan) is largely a work of political rhetoric and was never intended to produce any actual substantive results?

what did you sa...

Does anyone understand this rambling bit of non-sensical tripe. You're so off base it's hard to follow your fourth grade journalism (my apologies to forth graders). It's about the better good, not about a private business using public property. Wrap some English around some brain cells and regurgitate this again.

what did you sa...

let me take someone's thunder away and point out I misspelled fourth..lx7xn

Van Allen (Anon...

"Better good?" WDYS, was it your intention to write "greater good?" If so, only the future can say with any certainty if that in fact is a reality.

Notimpressed (A...

Typical comments from the writer, who's been in town for all of one or two years. Apparently, he has the answers for everything.
To Mr. White: Did you review the proposed legislation, or speak with the Administration or any Council members before writing this rant? I'll bet the answer is no.
City Council did the right thing in this case. Potential liability was the key here.
Also, it seems the majority of people have a problem with city property being used for private business, especially when it comes to serving alcohol.

Answer this: How would alcohol sales in Bresson Park benefit the downtown area? Would it result in the substantial addition of jobs? Would it attract significantly more people to the downtown area, therefore generating more dollars for neighboring businesses?
Would it open the door for new businesses downtown?
I believe the answer to those questions is no. With that in mind, what was the upside in passing this legislation?

By the way Mr. White: As far as the Revolving Loan Fund, and the Norwalk Economic Development Corporation, how much do you know about either? I'm guessing very little, if anything.
It's columns like this that show precisely why the Norwalk Reflector has become almost unreadable at times.

Nicholas White ...

Notimpressed: FYI, I've been in town for 20 months. Does that make my opinion less valid? No, I did not review the proposed legislation or speak to anyone, Matt Hutton did. And while you may agree with city council's action, the issue of liability was not key here -- at least it wasn't for the council. Liability hasn't really come up at council meetings or in my colleagues' discussions with administrators and legislators. For them, the issue is precedent. And personally, I think the precedent argument is a bad argument. As to your questions: the answer to all is: probably not. So what? In a free society, the government is supposed to have a compelling reason to stop people from doing things -- they shouldn't have to seek permission to do things. I know, it's a public park -- to which I say, it's a public park. It belongs to Berry's just as much as it does to anyone else. Now there may be compelling reasons to stop alcohol in the park. I'm simply arguing that precedent isn't one. And I'm not sure I buy the liability thing either. Are you a lawyer? If you are, I'd like to interview you on the subject. As far as the NEDC and RLF goes, what would you like to know? Finally, I'm sorry you find the Reflector unreadable. If you would like, I would love to sit down with you and discuss what we could do to improve it. Our number here is 419-668-3771 and my extension is 243. Name your time and place, I'll be there.

Nicholas White ...

WDYS: Same offer, if you would be willing to give me just a little bit of your time, I would appreciate the instruction. We fourth-graders are eager to learn -- not like teenagers. I'm a little confused. Is your issue with my column that you feel it is written badly and difficult to understand? Or is it that you think I am not addressing the real problem? If it's a question of the greater good, personally, I think the greater good is best served by freedom. But, I'd like to know what you mean by your statement. From my POV, I don't see how allowing people to drink in a park under the supervision of a responsible party (Berry's) is any different than letting them to do so indoors. So am I then to assume that you also think we should outlaw drinking inside? For the greater good, of course. Feel free to give me a call to discuss it, I'm sure I'm missing something obvious -- just above my reading level.

Notimpressed (A...

You don't know as much as you seem to think you do.
Did you at least talk with Mr. Hutton before writing your column? Regardless, a call to City Hall or at least one Council member would've been helpful.
Comparing Berry's request, to the mission of the Revolving Loan Fund and the Norwalk Economic Development Corperation is the same as compared apples to oranges.
The obvious thing you're missing is the fact that the majority of people didn't want taxpayer-owned property used for private business. Your comment to WDYS (paraphrased) that allowing people to drink outside is the same as letting them drink inside shows you don't get it.
Inside is Berry's property. Outside at Bresson Park isn't.
Yes, it's leased by Berry's, but it still belongs to Norwalk City taxpayers.

I don't believe the Council was concerned about setting precedent. Council members simply used common sense with this issue. And FYI, liability was a big concern.
Finally, what was the upside of voting yes?
As far as contacting you, no thanks. I've read your work on various topics, and I've actually talked with on two other occasions, and that was enough to understand your mindset.

Nicholas White ...

I've talked with Mr. Hutton many times before writing my column. And why should I have called? To ask the same questions he asked? And how do you know liability was a factor? He's been at every council meeting and he said it hasn't really come up. What did come up was precedent. Do you have inside information? Are you a council member? As to my argument, if you want to say that my argument is faulty, then you've got to say why. Just because you say it's apples and oranges doesn't make it so. I say it's apples and apples because the RLF and NEDC, among other things, give out public money (theirs or someone else's) to private business. Government or its agents can give out public money for private business, but they can't give out public property? Why? What's the difference? Teach me, please. And as far as my comment to WDYS, I was responding to his point, and I still think I understood his point properly. To quote his original comment: "It's about the better good, not about a private business using public property." So what you're talking about is your problem with the issue, not his. I'm just trying to understand each person who has a problem with me and my column. If I have any "mindset" at all, it is that I take great pride in my work, and I approach each issue, as near as humanly possible, without bias. But you have me at a disadvantage. You say we've talked, and apparently I gave you a pretty bad impression. So now I'm dying to know who you are. (Curiosity is an occupational hazard.) Plus, if I spoke to you as a source, how do you know I wasn't playing devil's advocate to more fully understand your point of view? It often helps. In any case, I'll make you a deal. Give me a call. Reveal yourself and engage in spirited debate. I promise I will be willing to change my mind if presented a superior argument, if you will be equally willing to change your mind.

Van Allen (Anon...

Will the responsible consumption of alcohol in Bresson Park usher in a new downtown renaissance? Highly unlikely. However, maintaining a status quo attitude toward downtown development is wholly nonsensical as Norwalk and most every U.S. community cannot stand pat in the 21st century with the on slot of globalization. This phenomena is glaring evident when the present Main St. business district is compared to that of a mere 30 yrs. ago. In the early 70s, on a Friday night the streets and the sidewalks were busy. Today, one could roll a bowling ball down a sidewalk and not hit anyone. The fact that Mr. White is a relative newcomer to the community and that he is willing to voice his concerns should be viewed as a plus. He brings a fresh voice to the landscape rather than mouthing the same old tired diatribes of the naysayers. What is the future of downtown Norwalk? More parks, government offices and vacant storefronts or commercial vibrancy? This is but a sliver of the question and about the precedence of which he wrote.

Van Allen (Anon...

Help me to remember. Bresson Park currently sits on land that was formerly occupied by what business?

Norwalkresident...

Interesting comments. The author, Nicholas White ruffled some feathers, and got his ruffled too.
I followed this story, and I'm not afraid to say I'm not comfortable with Berry's using the property for outdoor dining, much less serving alcohol. I have nothing against Berry's or a beer or glass of wine with dinner. It just seems inappropriate to do it on city owned property.
It would be a non-issue, if Berry's owned the property.
It was worth a shot by Berry's, and it'll probably come up again.
Has it ever been revealed how much Berry's pays for the use of this property?
As far as the downtown area, it's never going to go back to the way it used to be. Too much competition from big box stores, internet shopping, lack of parking, etc. spelled doom for the traditional downtown.

Van Allen (Anon...

IMO, the changing of the downtown traffic patterns with the construction of the Route 20 By-pass forty yrs. ago helped precipitate into the degeneration of uptown. As to the future of uptown, history is made up of the perpetual ebb and flow of events. To those with a positive attitude the word "never" is merely a distraction. Over the yrs. numerous towns and large cities have re-vitalized their original commercial centers. Is Norwalk any less capable? Give Mr. Berry his outdoor liquor permit for a limited period as in a test run and then let's re-evaluate the results.

Notimpressed (A...

Mr. White: Again, thank you for the invitation, but no thanks. It'd simply be a waste of my time and yours.
No, I'm not a council member, but I did take the time to call three of them, to express my beliefs. Trust me, liability came up during each of the conversations.
I'm also not one of your sources.
Personally, I think I've made it quite clear I didn't care for your column. It came across as a condesending and sarcastic jumbled piece of writing.
I don't want to make this personal with you, so I'll try to end my comments on a somewhat positive note. As long as it's not abused, forums like this can lead to some interesting debates. This seems to be under your watch, so take that as a compliment.

Jonathan Christ...

Yep, really my name up there. Nicholas, I liked the way you wrote the story. At first I was think you were going to be another one of the nay sayers, but I am glad I kept reading. I have been to many cities which have outdoor dining with alcohol. One I can think of quickly is San Diego. I sat at Croce's Restaurant on the sidewalk eating Chicken Kiev and drinking a micro brew in the beautiful California evening listening to some great music and it was a very enjoayable experience. I don't think the city of San Diego was worried about precedent, I don't think they were worried about liability, and I don't think they were worried about giving the great Jim Croce's widow an unfair advantage. I do believe they were thinking if it was done responsibily then it would be a good thing for the patrons of the Gaslamp Quarter. I don't have a problem with Berry's responsibly serving alcohol in the park, I don't have a problem with using Pohl Park for allowing farmers to sell their produce, I don't have a problem with festivals on Main Street that have carnivals rides, but then again, that is just me and I am not a member of the Norwalk Select so my opiions don't carry much weight.

Nicholas White ...

Jonathan: It's funny you should mention San Diego -- I grew up there! Well, I moved there when I was 10, and left after high school. While the weather there is such that it makes you want to be outside all the time, I have to say that because I'm so ready for it by the time summer gets here, I actually enjoy the good weather here even more. So the other day I took the wife to Berry's and had lunch in the park. We were the only ones, but the service and the food was great (it hasn't always been). Give it a try. (Of course, it would have been better with a beer). ;-)

Mr. Rumor (Anon...

I hear that Mr. White's source, Matt Hutton, is leaving the Reflector. Is it true that reading Mr. White's columns drove Hutton running and screaming out the door??

wdys (Anonymous)

Nick, the difference is one is illegal and one is not. The revolving loan fund is set up for a specific purpose, to help private businesses. Public parks are also for a specific purpose, apparently as you see it, to allow private businesses to profit. Parks are for the public to use. If the city wants to sell the property, buy all means do it. As long as my taxes pay for the upkeep of the park, it should remain public.

isn't it a leas...

Isn't Berry's leasing the property? So I guess they would be paying for the upkeep as it is. And if you would add the alcohol the you make the lease payments higher.

wdys (Anonymous)

Oh yea Nick don't make an assumption that I dont like to drink, I do. By saying I don't like to drink you must think it minimizes my opinion. (my assumption) Your argument about sewers being an unfair advantage is ridiculous. I understand what you were trying to say, however it missed the point of irony so far that it was at first glance senseless. I obviously am not the smartest person around, as witnessed by me responding to anything written here, but to be fair it was probably my lack of perception that confused me on your story. I appreciate what you're trying to do but dont be so sensitive. It is your paper that allows people like myself to take anonymous, cowardly snipes at anyone we want in this forum. America is great, even with our government intrusion, as you see it. I apologize for my previous harsh and childish remarks. I actual enjoy your writing, it did inspire me to make several responses. I will slink back into anonymity and wait to snipe some other defenseless person whose name appears in the paper.

re:nick's artic...

I'm not sure how I feel on a newspaper employee being able to even put up a post.I'm not trying to be mean,but should it be like working in the local restaurants? A local owner does not want a waitress telling or sounding condensending to a customer either?Even if the customer is wrong?Besides it is a little longwinded don't you think?I enjoy reading the posts that feel real, more emotional to the everyday person!

Nicholas White ...

Re: re:nick's article. You know what? I'm just trying to have a conversation with people. I like talking to people. I like arguing with people. I like to learn something new in the process. I've convinced people and I've had other people convince me about all sorts of things, and I really enjoy that. I think life would be pretty dull without the ability have a real, meaningful conversation with other people. It's why I like being a reporter. And believe it or not, I try to only write as many words as I absolutely must to say what I need to.

re: nicks artic...

hello there Nick, please excuse me if i don't capitilize things i should be, or any mispellings now.im typing with a handicap now.the way you started off your last post sounds harsh already.most intelligent people would prefer not to be argueing with others.i'm not asking to be convinced of anything,you have your opinions, like others have theirs.you couldn't write clearer,less winded words ?i can get my point through with only 2 words here'''play nice""""