The Morristown City Council agenda for tomorrow includes a reduction in the distance requirement between businesses selling beer and schools, churches, and parks.
This latest change comes after the Popkin Food City (on part of the old Berkline property) was built and then "suddenly" Food City discovered that the building was too close to the City's Popkin Park to get a beer permit under the city's current distance guidelines.
No problem. Whenever a law inconveniences the City or certain well-heeled companies or councilmembers, the solution is always the same: change the law.
[Remember the George McGuffin Law that LeBel, Senter, Bivens, Garrett, and Jinks passed overturning a referendum to help the LeBel Five put George McGuffin back on the MUS Board. Click here or here or on the label "McGuffin Law" at the side of this blog]
Now some of the changes being made tomorrow are general changes that need to be made. But the change in the distance requirement is specifically for Food City.
Whether the distance requirement should be changed or not should not come up suddenly--particularly in response to a situation where a corporation that is very knowledgeable about beer permitting in localities throughout Tennessee and designs and builds a store in Morristown that is too close to a city park to qualify for a beer permit.
Food City already has numerous stores in Morristown that sell beer. Food City knows and knew the beer permit distance requirements when they bought the Popkin property (with City Councilman Paul LeBel involved in the sale) and when they located and began construction on the store.
So let's not act like, golly-gee, we're shocked and need to do something (change the law) to help these poor souls.
There will be lots of posturing tomorrow--and lots of claims about needing to take this action to "create jobs" or to help a business/corporate/friend. Plus there will be claims that the old distance requirements are "suddenly" out-of-date. See Gary Chesney's October 17 Facebook post here.
Job creation is extremely important, but there are some who say that "job creation by Food City" in Morristown is largely smoke and mirrors as Food City is opening two new stores (Masengill Springs on W.A.J. and Popkin on E. Morris Boulevard) with great fanfare---and with the help of millions of local tax increment dollars (TIF) used on each site--and then with far less fanfare Food City will quietly close down one or more of its other Morristown stores.
Watch what Councilmember LeBel, who was involved in the sale of the property to Food City and who profited by that sale, says and does.
Watch them all as they skirt around the fact that the major change being made tomorrow is a change to the beer permit distance requirement to accommodate Food City at Popkin Center--a corporate business that knows the local beer permit law, built its building too close to a park to get a beer permit under the existing law, and then turned to LeBel and company to have the law changed.
And when the law is changed tomorrow and customized for Food City, it is changed for all businesses. And if. in the future, another favored business builds its building too close to a school, church, or park to get a beer permit, we will go through this same customized change to the law, the same political charade.