Appleton police shutting down a lemonade stand last weekend has certainly received plenty of exposure the past few days. Many have been quick to blame the officers involved, some cranky neighbors who probably complained or the folks at City Hall for coming up with such an "unfair" ordinance.
Believe it or not, I'm going to support those who put this law into place. It's easy to say shutting down a lemonade stand is unfair--but would you say the same if it was a bake sale? What about the woman who sets a few of her Pampered Chef items out for sale along the same sidewalk? How about the guy who does woodcarving--can he sell his items out there?
As I mentioned on the air yesterday in a conversation about this with Bob, the obvious target of this ordinance is not kids--but rather the beaded jewelry lady, the stinky hippie guy with his hemp products stand and the guy who sells the unlicensed Badgers and Packers t-shirts at every event that might bring in more than 100-people. City officials likely grew tired of every street looking like a Turkish Bazaar--plus, vendors on the event grounds themselves were paying to be there--while the interlopers nearby were setting up for free.
Apparently, the city of Milwaukee doesn't have such an ordinance--or they don't care to enforce it. The street my wife and I walked down to get to Summerfest last week was blocked off to traffic--and the vendors were taking full advantage. You had at least a dozen people selling bottled water (likely purchased at Sam's Club for 18-cents each) for a buck a bottle. There was a guy with a white tuxedo jacket and white running pants selling his "famous" designer sunglasses. There was a hot dog vendor, a tamale stand, a group of "bucket drummers" and several "singer-songwriters" playing out of tune guitars and sounding like the "reject" candidates for American Idol. It just made it feel kind of "slummy", you know?
Is it unfortunate that little girls get caught up in efforts to crackdown on shady vendors? Yes. But you know that if we make an exception for one--all will want the same treatement. Isn't that what "equal protection under the law" means? I think that if we are going to have a law on the books, let's enforce it evenhandedly--no matter how "cute" those involved may be.