Monday, July 16, 2012

Gaining Little Ground

If people think that Mami Chulas, and establishments like it, can be closed down, then it's because city leaders have done little to inform the public on exactly why they can't do that.  The mayor made two t.v. appearances last week explaining what the city is able to do against places that employ pasty-wearing teenagers.

The city can hand out tickets, and that's it.

Apparently the city is at the mercy of the state.  The city can't create an ordinance that'll please critics of the beer runs, only to be superseded by state law.  In talking to the city attorney, he was unable to cite the specific law that protects local beer run drive-thrus from the activity that has upset many here in town.  All the city can do is grant businesses beer licenses (without knowing what they are going to do with them) and ticket them for infractions -- in this case, penalize them for their showy displays.

Mami Chulas exists on South Meadow because the area is zoned as such that they can operate there legally.  The city can't rezone the land, according to the city attorney.  Even if the city did so, these establishments would be grandfathered in, so to speak.  And they can't condemn the establishment because then they would run into legal problems.  I was amused, however, by Mr. Casso's defense of Mami Chulas and its ilk.  He recognized that a lot of people don't like the drive-thrus, but he acknowledged that they're popular as well as evidenced by the long lines of cars waiting to go in.

Late last year, the city manager told council that the best legal minds in the state had been consulted in this matter, and that the city was basically out of luck.  He also discussed some of the things I mentioned above.

The city may be hamstrung in being able to deal with the local drive-thrus, but it could be more clear with the public as to why that is so.  If people make the time to go complain before city council, and start petitions to try to close the Mami Chulas of the world, they would be better served if somebody was more straightforward with them.  Frankly, they're wasting their time if they have to depend on the representation we have.

Mami Chulas isn't going anywhere.  The public should stop throwing its hands up in the air.  And it should stop asking, but what about our children?!  That refrain carries no weight when dealing with an opportunistic council that can't make up its mind on which way to go.  How can they give the public direction when they can't even stand up for what they believe in?    

Embrace Mami Chulas and their body paint.  There is no other choice.

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