A few days ago, I questioned the DC Council's abruptly allowing all-night drinking during inauguration week without adequately considering the public safety implications for neighborhoods. Well, this week, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Bill Bennett (R-Utah) weighed in, sending a letter to Mayor Fenty and Council Chair Vincent Gray urging them to reverse course. The action signals that Congress might not permit the law to take effect. I agree with them, but stay out of our business!
To the respected senators, in DC, as in the states you represent, we're allowed to enact dumb or simply unwise laws without your involvement. According to several internet sources (Disclaimer: I have not taken the time to verify these laws), in Senator Feinstein's hometown of San Francisco, just for example:
- Elephants may not stroll down Market Street unless they are on a leash.
- It is illegal to wipe one’s car with used underwear.
- Persons classified as “ugly” may not walk down any street.
- One may not pile horse manure more than six feet high on a street corner.
It doesn't get any better in Utah. In Senator Bennett's hometown of Salt Lake City, no one may walk down the street carrying a paper bag containing a violin. Sounds like an ABC single sales restriction targeting drunk musicians. Utah has a whole mess of ridiculous laws. Its restrictive alcoholic beverage regulations are not exactly mainstream. In fact, during the 2002 Winter Olympics, Utah relaxed its alcoholic beverage law enforcement, and when no catastrophe occurred, it adopted a new set of regulations that moved toward normalcy in 2003.
Utah is a place that until recently limited drinks to no more than an ounce of alcohol. Bars got around the rule by offering “sidecars,” an extra half ounce served separately that the customer could pour into the drink himself. Restaurants got mad, since they had to serve weak drinks. So now, you can get a drink with an ounce and a half of alcohol in Utah, and sidecars are prohibited, unless, of course, you would like a side shot of a different type of alcohol with your drink. In order words, you can order a vodka tonic and a shot of tequila, but don’t try ordering a vodka tonic with a shot of vodka for your friend. Huh? Most Utah ABC licensees are located in Senator Bennett's hometown. Did he raise a stink when they relaxed restrictions during the Olympics, is he urging reform of his own state’s oddball ABC laws, or does he only butt into DC's business?
Perhaps DC Council action is in order: "The Bringing Rationality to Utah’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws Emergency Resolution of 2008."