Gentle Readers,

Thought you might enjoy a glimpse of local Utah politics, specifically the debate, now ballot referendum, on whether or not the local convenience store should be licensed to sell alcohol.  What, you say? Re-litigate prohibition? The great “Noble Experiment,” and one of the greatest social policy failures in American history?  Here is a Letter to the Editor I wrote to the local paper.  Note I am responding to an earlier letter referring to those drinking alcohol as Riffraff:

Riff and Raff Respond to Hyde Park Prop 8 Letter

Raff and I have followed the argument over alcohol sales in Hyde Park with great interest.  Not because we yearn to shop for Bud Light at the local Maverick, but because of what the argument illustrates about how democracy works, or does not work, in a small town.

In 2012, the Hyde Park City Council, after listening to public comment, passed an ordinance that laid the framework within which businesses, notably the local Maverick, could be granted license to sell alcohol.  A small group of citizens, presumably outraged, led the effort to gain the necessary signatures to call for a referendum, the balloting for which was delayed until the general election next month.

Raff and I don’t intend to argue the merits of Prop 8 here.  The offensive Letter to the Editor appearing last week, referring to people who drink alcohol as “Riffraff,” (no doubt a case study for rhetoricians to puzzle over for years to come) lays out the argument against the Proposition pretty clearly.  Here it is in a nutshell.  Cons: Alcohol is evil for many reasons.  Pros: There ain’t none.

Opponents of Prop 8 have argued this isn’t about alcohol! RRRRight.  The Civil War wasn’t about slavery either…  SO here is why Riff and Raff are all fired up!  We elect local representatives to act on our behalf for lots of things that make a small town work.  Business licenses, building permits, public works, & etc.  Often, these elected officials invite public comment on important matters, then they make decisions on   our behalf.  If we are unhappy with their performance, we can fire them at the next election.

I recognize some issues rise to the level of referendum, like school bonds, but granting a liquor license isn’t one of them.  It is a ridiculous attempt of an intolerant few to impose what they perceive as the will of the majority on every citizen of Hyde Park.

Prop 8 may well go down in flames, and no doubt the opponents will celebrate their victory in practicing democracy (though not with a cold one), perhaps just a “high five.”  But from where Raff and I sit, your attempt to re-litigate prohibition was not an exercise in the practice of democracy, but rather its circumvention.


Riff and Raff (Jeff and Marcie Bateman)

Hyde Park

p.s. Greene King Ales…nom nom nom…