[Hpn] Something for FNB folks (Humor?)
Sat, 03 Jun 2000 07:11:18 -0400
Something for FNB folks.
Squeeze out the lemonade vendors
by Thomas M. Keane Jr.
Weekly Columnist for Boston Herald
Posted with permission from Tom Keane
Friday, June 2, 2000
Memorial Day weekend was bright and beautiful, so I had my kid arrested.
had set up a lemonade stand.
The girls, Lauren, 10, and Bryn, 8, had taken a beat-up red wagon over to
nearby playground and were charging customers 25 cents a cup. I asked to
their license from the health department. Needless to say, they couldn't
"How about your common victualler's license? Let's see your business
registration certificate? Did you take the state-required food-handling
course?'' They gave me blank stares. The City Council just passed a
requirement that all food vendors had to wear plastic gloves. Were they
wearing plastic gloves? No.
As I contemplated the lemonade stand, the gravity of the situation grew
The playground clearly was not zoned for a commercial enterprise. Nor
they obtained a one-day license from the licensing board that could
temporarily exempt them from the rules.
The Inspectional Services Department had never signed off on the stand.
Indeed, the kids had never even applied for a construction permit.
the fire department had never inspected the wagon for fire safety. I'm
sure it didn't have a working fire extinguisher.
The lemonade mix they had bought from Stop & Shop was clearly labeled,
for resale.'' They had mixed it with water in our kitchen. That's illegal
well. They asked their friend Mila to help them. They never paid her
wage, they failed to post the federally mandated fair-labor-law notices
of course, they were illegally hiring a minor on a holiday, to boot.
I watched them sell a glass of lemonade. But they never bothered to
any sales tax. Their hand-lettered sign was larger than the rules for
``home-based businesses'' allow. To top it off, they were operating in an
historic district. I doubt the garish red wagon would have passed
architectural muster. I could go on, but you see my point. This was the
of behavior that we cannot tolerate. The kids had to be dealt with
I wish I could report to you that egregious violations such as these are
isolated occurrences, but I cannot. They happen all the time,
Boston's least well-off neighborhoods. For example, women bake cookies
pies to sell on street corners or at farmers' markets, trying to make a
dollars for their families. What they are doing is a crime. For one
it's illegal to sell food prepared in your own kitchen. If you want to be
caterer, you have to prepare the food in a separate, commercial kitchen
has been inspected by the health department.
Or how about hair braiding? Hair braiding is a traditional African art
currently popular in Boston's black community. It's a skill handed down
generation to generation. But most hair braiders are operating illegally.
law says that all hair stylists must get a license from the state and
have gone to a hair styling school (average tuition, $8,000) for a
1,000 hours. As it turns out, most hair-styling schools teach things like
cutting and coloring, not hair braiding.
So what? The law is the law. Then there are the guys who hang around
stores, giving shoppers rides back home. They are blatantly violating the
city's taxi laws. If you want to give someone a ride, you need a taxi
medallion, currently available for about $166,000. Now, it is true that
are never to be found in residential areas and that without the illegal
residents, particularly elderly residents, would have a tough time doing
But so what? The law is the law. Some people argue the laws should be
changed. The Pioneer Institute's recently launched Center for Urban
Entrepreneurship claims that government's welter of laws and regulations
discourage urban entrepreneurship. It says the rules are foolish,
complex and often times amount to little more than barriers to new
competitors. Indeed, the center argues, if society really cares about
eliminating poverty, it should do all it can to encourage those on the
rungs of the economic ladder to be entrepreneurs, that this is the key
build economic independence and create vibrant, self-sustaining
Bah. If they want a job, let them work at McDonald's. And as for my
Once they get out of jail, I plan to give them a good talking to. These
were put in place for a good reason. Next time they try to show some
initiative, I'll tell the judge to throw away the key.
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