Editorial: Banning single beers is silly

Monday, January 5, 2009 at 1:02am

At some point, the Metro Council is going to have to realize it cannot legislate good behavior. Yet, that kind of nanny state instinct has been a theme in recent years on the Council, particularly when it comes to the behavior of residents within Nashville’s urban core.

Poorly thought out attempts have been made to legislate against actions that are already crimes, specifically acts typically committed by Nashville’s either homeless or chemically addicted. First there was an “aggressive panhandling” ordinance, something where existing criminal laws for assault and disorderly conduct should already apply.

Now, Council member Erica Gilmore wants to ban single beer sales in the city’s downtown area, a law that exists in various forms in some of America’s largest cities like Washington, D.C. and Detroit.

The idea here is easy to understand. Gilmore says single beer sales lead to litter downtown. In other places, banning single beer sales has been attributed to fighting public drunkenness and public consumption. The most basic problem with this proposal is that it is a legislative redundancy. All of those things, short of buying alcohol itself, are already acts the Metro Police Department can and should be addressing. We support and encourage police action against all manner of street crimes, including those related to alcohol. These Council members need to address the related problems in their districts through providing better constituency service — a harder task arguably than legislating — and draw the police’s attention to crimes, even something as simple as littering. That is between the Council members and the police department.

In a broader sense, the problem with legislation is that Council seems willing to turn a blind eye to similar behavior when it happens above the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder.

For example, Council members over the years have not been standing on their heads to pass new laws to address the issue of open container, public consumption and litter proliferation at downtown events tied to music or professional sporting events.

Gilmore herself has already found exceptions to her own proposed law — where microbreweries and craft beers are concerned. Of course, these higher-dollar single sales are not usually the target purchases of blue-collar workers after a shift, neighborhood drunks or the homeless.

We make no case here for anyone to be able to drink in public or litter. It is simply that the state of Tennessee already has laws against the very behavior Metro Council seeks to ban. Putting further regulation and burden on small business owners selling single cans of beer is overkill and, quite frankly, smacks of grandstanding for constituents. It also contributes to the mindset that Council can actually fix such problems with the sweep of a pen and a vote. They cannot, and this kind of legislation distracts legislators from more pressing problems in the city such as the tenuous budget, economic development, the future of the city’s hospital and in some places a crumbling public infrastructure.

On a more basic note, a person of legal drinking age should be able to walk into a store in this state and buy a beer in whatever form they choose — a single can or a whole case — just like they would any other item. Treating everyone downtown like they are litterbugs is no solution.

Filed under: City Voices
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By: eastnashville37207 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Gilmore is at least trying to do something even though it is useless as there are already laws but never enforced.If laws such as open containers, drug dealing aren't enforced and ignored for years this is the outcome.Why isn't Gilmore putting more pressure on Serpas to have his men and women address this problem.Why is it that Council Pam Murray has allowed this in her district for years and hasn't said a word. Where is Murray on this issue and the open drug markets right in her back yard?Think Diane Neighbors needs to address Murray on this issue as Murray has been aiding and abeding those with substance abuse for years. Most are being housed in her district illegally and yet Council, MNPD and MDHA all ignores this issue. Murray is always pulling the "R" card instead of abiding by the laws along with the rest of the cities finest.Single Beers aren't the problem it is illegal activity within the government and why the laws are never enforced.When the MNPD calls drunks and drug dealer calls "A Low Priority" you know there is a major problem within.

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I would like to see single beers expanded to supermarkets so we can try different beers without buying a six pack or getting ripped off in a conveinance store.

By: Dwilso31 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Next to last paragraph says it all.GRANDSTANDINGJust like my council person. Wants to be a great orator but isn't. Watching these council meetings on television has basically a good form of comic entertainment. I know it's terrible but we elected them.

By: frankbrown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The road to a police state occurs one little law at a time. In this country however this will not happen because insurrection will occur first. Too much diversity will assure that.

By: house_of_pain on 12/31/69 at 6:00

While we are on the subject, let's get rid of a law that is even more silly, and allow beer sales on Sunday morning.

By: Captain Nemo on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Another intoxicated monday. I will have a drink to that...with my coffee. lol

By: Fundit on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Is wasting time part of what this council vows to do when they are sworn in? It seems that's about all that is ever accomplished.

By: frogmild on 12/31/69 at 6:00

What did that very offensive cartoon have to do with the editorial? I know it can't be satire since the "Magic Negro" episode proved the paper doesn't believe in satire or was that only satire directed at Obama and the democrates?

By: coltcasa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

This editorial was obviously written by the beer lobbyists. Because if NCP had looked into the facts they would know what Erica Gilmore knows-this is not an enforcement issue-some people have been arrested hundreds of times for open container, public intoxication and littering-they don't care about the laws. And neither do the single serve stores-the one down the street from my house opens at 7 am and closes at 3 am. They've been fined thousands for violating the beer laws. And when they lose their permit for a few days-they just post a sign "no beer today". Simply put-the lawbreakers don't care about the current law-single serve serves no purpose. So conratulations to Erica Gilmore and Mike Jameson-keep up the good work.

By: house_of_pain on 12/31/69 at 6:00

coltcasa: punishing everyone for the crimes of a few just doesn't cut it.

By: Captain Nemo on 12/31/69 at 6:00

When I buy beer it is usely a six pack or more, for home. The single beer is usely for people on the run, before lunch break is over. Or before they get home.

By: Kosh III on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Will the downtown bars now be forced to sell by the six-pack? Didn't think so.