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Lemonade Warriors

With so many issues left unresolved, you'd think Montgomery County could do a better job at picking its battles.

Sometimes you just have to wonder about the politics of this place.

Our local economy is sputtering again, the housing market is flirting with a double-dip, our transportation system is getting more congested and crumbling around us, and local and state budgets are showing years of red ink ahead. Yet, amid all of these truly important issues, what has prompted the most vigorous response from Montgomery County officials lately?

Prohibiting fire and rescue personnel from "passing the boot" to raise money for muscular dystrophy and cracking down on illicit lemonade stands at the U.S. Open. 

Wow, I sure feel a lot better, how about you?

I have always wondered about this "passing the boot" issue. As I understand it, such solicitations are not technically permitted, unless the participants stay on the median and do not enter the intersections, which apparently has not always been the case. So in comes our brave County Councilmember Phil Andrews to end this grave threat to our public safety once and for all by banning the practice completely. Never mind that this campaign has been going on for many years, without a single serious injury or incident, and yet "safety concerns" are the stated reason for the crackdown.

The bigger question is this: Why do we care? The end result of this once-a-year campaign is that lots of money gets raised for an important charitable cause, lots of kids get help, and no one gets hurt. So why, looking back all at the serious issues we’re facing, does this one become a priority for an immediate legislative fix? With all due respect to Mr. Andrews, I think the council has a few more important issues on their plate.

Not to be outdone, the executive branch swung into action this week, shutting down and slapping a $500 fine on a group of children (and their parents) for operating a lemonade stand without a permit at the U.S. Open. Technically, from a narrowly legalistic point of view, the permit inspector probably had a point, but county officials quickly backpedaled in the face of a loud public outcry against what was clearly seen as a case of overzealous enforcement. The fine was dropped and the stand was allowed to re-open a short distance away, but our image as a hyper-regulatory hotbed was once again reinforced. 

In both cases, one might wonder: Where was the common sense here, or a sense of proportion? When we parents get a little too hyper-reactive and blow a gasket over some minor infraction by our kids, sometimes they gently remind us, "Dad, take a chill pill."

Maybe it’s time our county officials took that same bit of sage advice, or better yet, kick back with a nice cool glass of lemonade and just let it go. It’s really just not that important.

Richard Rice June 20, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Isn't it time that perhaps we need to vote in a group of County Council members who are honestly interested in the good of the community they are living in rather than constantly trying to get themselves reelcted simply for the sake of their egos getting stoked?
Jeff Hawkins June 20, 2011 at 05:04 PM
It's a noble thought and one I hope the citizen's of Montgomery County would take to heart, but there are some major political machines running in the County. These machines have been in place for decades and sadly the populace will always make the "comfortable" choice. We need change, we need activism, we need a new direction.
Betty Kuck June 22, 2011 at 03:09 AM
The permit cost $300, I understand. Were the children going to make $300? The money was to help children stricken with cancer. The children were learning to be good civic members by helping those who are in great need. Yes, they need to understand that they are to follow the laws. But a lemonade stand is a rite of passage and the county needs to get with the spirit of the situation. There should not be a need for a license to run a charitable lemonade stand by children. Where do the regulations stop?
ilkunta July 03, 2011 at 07:39 PM
@Syd: I wasnt aware that the parents were given a warning first. Are you sure that is what happened? If a warning was issued surely the county inspector's office would have relased that info to counter all the backlash they were reveing over ticketing the kids' parents.
Theresa Defino July 04, 2011 at 01:44 AM
A warning was given and ignored. Why is this incident being hung on the county council?

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