We had a special meeting last Friday night at 5:00 pm at City Hall, since the last meeting two bills had to be tabled because a majority of the City Council was not present to agree on them .
The meeting began with the discussion of property taxes. Again the mayor reiterated that the state sets the tax rate, and added that if we do not approve the tax rate (based on a city’s tax revenue) , the assessor could not determine city property taxes…
So… just like in the last meeting, and as promised, I voted “no”…again. My reasoning is if we can not adequately maintain our fair little city through mismanagement, why tax the property owners?
Now, before delving into the second issue which would be to vote on an ordinance that would allow the city to issue a “caterer’s permit”, so that beer and wine could be sold at events.
The provision came with protective measures, such as a roped off area in which drinkers would be contained , and police protection. The event would also be located at a different park than the location of the Fall Festival events.
What is funny about this measure is that when it was first proposed, everyone of the city council members supported it.
Alderman Sears, who originally made the motion to take a vote on it, withdrew his support last meeting stating that he had constituents that did not want it to pass.
As the second portion of the meeting started, Mayor Masterson made it clear that the individual board members would state their position and then the public would have a chance to give us their input.
Alderman Sears was first , stating that he wouldn’t mind visiting the issue at a later date and stating that he would support issuing a permit for “one whine tasting” at a future date.
I was called upon next and began by stating that I do consume adult beverages from time to time, and would feel like a hypocrite if I voted against the measure. I also stated that security measures were in place and that a whine tasting would generate revenue in the City and would also support the Thousand Oaks Winery in Patton, thereby helping county revenue as well.
It was my belief that a “wine tasting” event would bring more people to our town during Fall Festival, and that those people would then patronize our local businesses.
I added that if the experiment did not work as planned we could always rescend the ordinance at a later date.
Joel Southwhick was next to speak and admitted that he too drinks alcoholic beverages on occasion but then stated that he felt he must do what is best for the city and would oppose it.
Last but not least was Tim McCain who stated he was absent the last meeting, and that was why we were having to revisit the issue, he too opposed the issue.
The mayor then called on Fred Ritter, Pastor of the First Baptist Church. Mr. Ritter was adamant about his opposition to allowing alcohol to be sold at the Fall Festival, stating that we have two taverns in town for those who like to drink.
Members of several area churches also spoke in opposition, along with members of the Marble Hill Optimist Club.
One gentleman, stated that his son had been injured by a drunk driver and now had blurred vision as a result, he said the night that it happened the Marble Hill Police had gotten the Liscence Plate number, but could not locate the driver.
I asked if he ever traveled Hwy. 34 or Hwy. 25 and he answered by stating, “yes”.
I responded by stating that any accident like the one suffered by his son could happen anywhere, the debate got pretty heated between us, ending with me telling him I didn’t appreciate him degrading our police officers, and he telling me he didn’t come to the meeting to argue with me. (It should be noted that after the meeting I apologized to this gentleman for the heated discussion)
One woman, of whom I do not know her affiliation, stated that her daughter had been involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver on Hwy 67. She then asked me if I had children and I stated “yes”.
She responded by stating, “Well I hope you never have to go through what I had to go through”, in a tone that suggested that maybe deep down inside of her, she did wish harm on my children.
Several other citizens voiced opposition including the Optimist Club, which is ironic, given the fact that they allow people to drink beer in between events at their horse shows.
Chester Hays, Democratic candidate for County Assessor raised his hand to speak, was called upon, promtply turned red faced and began screaming that he was a resident, a tax payer and that he was against the selling of alcohol at parks paid for by the taxpayers. (It is my belief that Chester wasn’t really that concerned with drinking, but was merely using the opportunity to troll for votes)
Last but not least was a lady, who stated that, “She hoped that the two council members who drink alcohol weren’t the cause of an accident someday”.
This was too much for me to handle, I sharply responded by stating, “Look lady” at which time the mayor shut me down and a vote was called.
Alderman Sears: “No”
Alderman Lacy: “Yes”
Alderman McCain “No”
Alderman Southwick “No”
This meeting was the very definition of hypocrisy. An optimist club that allows drinking at their horse shows, yet does not want a “wine tasting” event, or a beer wagon during Fall Festival, and a group of church members who sit under a pastor that supports a woman’s right to have an abortion, come unglued about a “wine tasting”.
Let’s not forget that the crowd was so cruel that the President of the Bollinger County Chamber of Commerce left mid-way through the meeting, and the people were laughing about it afterwards.
Now I know why there are no new businesses coming into town.
Sorry folks, but when I ran for office I stated that I was a Jeffersonian. I truly believe that our country’s laws were rooted in Christianity, but I also know that America is a Constitutional Republic, not a theocracy and I do not “flip flop” on issues.
Alderman Ward I