Saturday, November 8, 2014

CCR 11-08-14: Beer, Burgers and Whoppers

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

   Want fries with that beer?

   Here we go again!  Be prepared.  You have been warned.  Hide the kids!  

   Irving’s parochial clash between the Wets and Drys in the city will replay (once again)  at the city council meeting on November 13, 2014(This residential clash has lasted longer than the Hatfield-McCoy feud over a scrawny pig.)  Why?

   Well, the newly renovated and shiny Big State Drug Fountain and Grill is seeking a zoning change for the sale of alcohol on premises.  Uh Oh!  Simply stated, they want to serve beer with their burgers, but will not, as some might think or want to believe, turn the establishment into a biker beer bar.  Sounds rather simple, right?

   For those who have been around Irving a goodly number of years, alcohol zoning is the only passionate issue, in the city, where folks will actually take time to visit the council chambers for a meeting to express an opinion.  And the opinions expressed on this topic always seem to be the same…NO booze/YES booze.  Who’s a poor sot to believe?

   Once again, the debate will feature Drys, cloaking their religious tenets tightly to their chest, attempting to persuade and pander the council with the fear this zoning of alcohol is an atrocity for a ‘soda fountain’ of such heritage.  To allow this zoning would certainly be detrimental to the health, safety, traffic patterns, and sobriety of all Irving citizens.  Kids will be run over in the streets.  Wives will be the victims of spousal abuse.  And rampant booze guzzling on Main Street in ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ will mark the beginning of the Apocalypse.  The demon’s elixir will backwash all the way to the banks of the Trinity River.  (Fire and brimstone would surely follow, don’t you think?) 

   On the other side of the beer mug will be the wobbling Wets, who for the most part are responsible or closet imbibers, wanting to see Irving join the twenty-first century and allow a private business to be competitive with other businesses serving beer with burgers.  Additionally, they would note, there has not been any scientific arguments or statistical data presented, by the opposition, to reflect any cafe, restaurant or club in the city has caused an increase in the crime rate by serving beer with burgers.

   (While the fervent behavior of the Wet/Dry debate is of historical note in the city, the range of zeal for attendees at the Oberammergau Passion Play in Bavaria, Germany doesn’t outstrip Irving’s alcohol passion play participants.) 

   Case in Point:  When was the last time anyone spied a gang war breaking out over curly fries in a Chili’s parking lot where people were served beer and burgers?  Has anyone ever witnessed an individual leaving a Saltgrass restaurant after having a B&B, to finish off a prime steak dinner, only to drive over a bus load of kids?  Certainly, no spousal abuse reports, by a guy swatting his mate/partner with a buttered croissant at Cheddar’s, have ever been filed with Irving PD. 

   Seriously, the only place one might expect to witness drunken deviant behavior would be at "Jerry’s AT&T World Amusement and Bloated Ego Park" in Arlington.  And normally, this activity would appear in the stands where security personnel are on hand to remove said obnoxious individuals rather quickly.  (Could this account for Jerry not being on the sidelines when a game is over and the Cowboys have lost…again?)

   Staff of the CCR believes the zoning case will pass (and should pass) without any major hurdles or raining down of lightening bolts on the unwashed masses of the city.  However, an important wrinkle to add to the debate will be QueenB VDs possible dictate to her Pet Rocks. 

   During the renovation process, the queen previously pledged total city support to the property owner and appeared in photo ops to mark the transformation of the old drug store property.  Certainly, she could not back down now or have her Pet Rocks waiver…even though the property owner for the Big State Fountain and Grill still sits on the Planning and Zoning Commission. 

   Some have questioned: How does this property owner comply with the queen’s newly revised and terribly unnecessary ethics code…especially in the matter of city funds (signage in particular) already contributed to the renovation effort?  If the zoning applicant, for this case, is also a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and stands to profit from this zoning change (even though he abstained from voting on the matter), isn’t this exactly what the queen was adamantly attempting to erase with her fluffy ethics code screed?  Just wondering.

   For the Record:  Understandably, this project has had a few ‘approval wrinkles’ since inception.  The CCR once reported (08-03-14) the property owner and city staff had developed a plan whereby $202,000 in city funds would be available to the property owner for the renovation of the property.  This provoked an outcry of outrageous proportions from citizenry regarding a private business milking city funds to renovate a for-profit venture.  

   So, at the request of the property owner, the CCR published another report (08-13-14) whereby the property owner assured staff of the CCR of two recent considerations and developments regarding the renovation project.  The property owner firmly stated the following had changed or been taken off the table: The property owner would not seek any additional city funds over the $75,000 already paid by the city for paving the parking area (this assurance also included not seeking any of the grant funds for any exterior renovations), and that no additional city funds would be requested for the renovation project.  This also meant the $202,000 had been ‘taken off the table’ by the property owner. 

   Imagine the surprise of the CCR staff when a couple weeks after the ‘clarification’ CCR report was issued (published at the express request of the property owner as a matter of fairness by the CCR to its readers), the property owner gave approval to city staff for the business operator of his property to receive $25,000 for exterior signage renovation cost.  This payment was for signage that is actually owned by the property owner.  (Doesn’t the city’s exterior grant funds exclude signage renovation reimbursements?) 

   The apparent circumvention, for approval of these additional funds to the business operator, was stated in the council agenda as wanting to avoid a potential ‘conflict of interest’ on the property owner’s part.  Remember, the property owner still sits on the Planning and Zoning Commission and owns the building and signage.

   Question:  When does the queen’s revised, fluffy ethics code actually apply?  Does it only apply to those who are not supporters of her realm? 

   Sadly, the actual business operator (and his wife are born, bred, and lifelong Irvingites…not carpetbaggers to the city) is caught in the middle of an issue not of his doing.  He would just like to flip burgers in ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ without all the drama of the property owner sitting on the Planning and Zoning Commission and QueenB VD appeasing those she pleases.  

   Hopefully, the business operator will receive the zoning change being requested and leave the politicos to answer any of the potential ‘conflict of interest’ or renovation payment questions made on behalf of the property owner.  The total amount paid by the city and approved by the city council for this renovation project currently stands at $100,000.  This figure doesn't include any payments, under $50,000, which technically could be made without council approval…if any such payments were made.

     To ensure passage of the zoning case, will QueenB VD covertly sign a secret edict to her Pet Rocks warning them to disregard any arguments the Drys propose in this zoning case?  In her mind, this might not be a zoning case…this could be a matter of her appeasing a property owner and supporter.

   If things should get out of hand when the debate on the zoning case commences, don’t be surprised if the queen angrily flips her mane in disgust and shouts to the crowd: "Sit down and shut up.  It’s just a beer with a burger…not the second coming."

   Should, for any reason, the zoning case not be approved by the council, then look for QueenB VD to tap her newest and best Tea-slurping buddy, Rodney "Bogus-gate Complaint" Anderson, to pass a new wrinkle of legislation at the Texas State House which would read: "In Texas, a burger is not a real burger unless it is downed with a beer."  And of course, everyone knows city law cannot supersede state law.

   So, dear readers, tune in to Item # 40 on the city council agenda Thursday evening, pop some corn and slug down the drink of your choice while watching Irving’s alcohol passion play unfold. 

   The zoning case will provide more drama than a Billy Shakespeare production…with more passion, grease and fries imaginable.  We promise.

…………………………..Mark Holbrook