In July, 10-year-old Lydia Coenen and her 9-year-old sister Vivian set up a lemonade stand near their Appleton, Wisconsin home, to sell lemonade to people heading to a car show. A police officer informed them their stand was prohibited by a new Appleton city ordinance that bars unlicensed vendors from selling food and drinks within a two-block radius of a special event.
It sounds so crazy that it could only happen in a Monty Python routine, Yet, at least four other similar episodes happened across the U.S. in July alone, in Georgia, Maryland, Texas and Iowa. In Maryland, the children’s parents were threatened with a $500 fine.Is that what we want here in Indianapolis? It’s clearly what City County Councilman Angel Rivera wants with his Proposal 188. Rivera’s proposal introduces a new raft of restrictions against private property rights and what used to be regarded in this nation as good old-fashioned entrepreneurism, in favor of creating new fines, fees and protections for well-heeled sporting corporations.
The proposal prohibits private ticket sales within a one mile radius of any event involving 500 or more people at Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse, Victory Field, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Murat Theatre, the Indianapolis Convention Center, the Indiana State Fairgrounds, and White River State Park, unless one of the parties involved in the sale has a license. So if you are stuck with an extra ticket to a game or show, now you will need a license to sell it outside the venue.
But the biggest wave of draconian new regulations involve “special events.” Events as innocuous as a neighborhood block party now will fall under the scrutiny of the city requiring new permits and fees. More troubling are the establishment of so-called “clean zones” that require new licenses to sell merchandise, food, souvenirs, et cetera, whether you are on city property or your own private property, during certain events. No signs, no pop up tents, no makeshift lemonade stands. The most invasive of all of these new regulations involve private property owners who allow folks to park in their yards. If you are blessed with a yard close to the State Fairgrounds that you allow cars to park in, it will cost you $75 for a license from the city, if Rivera’s proposal is adopted. And you won’t even be allowed to put up a tent to hold your own private party if you are unfortunate enough to live close to one of these ill-defined Special Event Zones. Imagine arguing with a cop over whether or not the eight cars parked in your yard are really from your Super Bowl party.
Is this really the sort of bureaucratic strong-arm tactics we want in Indianapolis, for no more reason than to put a few dollars into the public trough? The income for the city will be miniscule, but the cost to private citizens will be intentionally high enough to discourage defiance. And more important, the cost to civil liberties and private property rights will be incalculable, as Indianapolis passes ever more irksome and intrusive laws against its own citizens. The choking fist of government seems to be on a mission every day to unravel the very fabric of what used to be personal liberties and traditions that Americans took for granted. This proposal is one more in a new web of laws to address problems that do not exist, proposals that do not improve public safety or tranquility in any way. And almost as important, our police officers shouldn’t have to be shaking down 9-year-olds for their vending permits.
Angel Rivera’s Proposal 188 doesn’t need to be reworded, tinkered with or improved. It needs to go down in flames completely.
Christopher L. Hodapp is a filmmaker and the best-selling author of “Freemasons For Dummies.” He is the Libertarian candidate for the City County Council 5th District. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.