Saturday, June 29, 2013
BicenPk concert of Jun 28: Let's just Occupy the Health Department.
(Update: Read what the Floyd County Democratic Party has to say about this controversy)
Last week it was a bag of chips. This week, there was an awkward question of theoretical beer pouring procedure, proffered by the youthful, reluctant health department inspector as he desperately tried to make it appear as though his visit had some semblance of merit.
If one of us were pouring a beer and the cup started to slip, how would he or she catch it?
An interesting question, as I observed to him, considering that the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission requires those of us serving alcoholic beverages (as opposed to handling food in the strictest of statutory senses) to complete a training course, whereas the food handling certification ordinarily required of the health department for temporary food preparation specifically exempts beer and wine servers from having to know its provisions.
By the way, was he or anyone at the health department even aware of the existence of an ATC training course?
No, and probably not.
So, I continued, is the question about cup slippage an alcohol question, or a food question?
If the former, why is the health department asking and not the ATC?
If the latter, how could we know the answer, given the exemption from handler training?
And if we're exempted from food handler training, why is the health department extorting $20 from us each time we pour liquid that both statute and precedent do not regard as food?
Oh, well. Even funnier is the photo above, illustrating what happens when bureaucratic connivers send newbie minions to do their dirty work.
In short, tables touch. Here's why.
Our oppressed rookie inspector could not quite fathom the resolution of a thorny question: Two permits are posted on the truck, one from the ATC (for alcoholic beverages; on the left in the photo above) and one from the Health Department (for food; on the right), and given this clash between two entirely separate state regulatory regimes -- ones that didn't overlap until the health department's own unprecedented campaign of revenue enhancement and regulatory over-reach began on June 14 -- which permit actually takes precedence?
Put another way: Given an alcoholic beverage catering arrangement of the sort existing under the ATC permit, does the inspector treat master caterer and sub-caterer as one unit for the purpose of harassment, or as two?
As I explained to the inspector, he's somewhat shamefully being asked to resolve a fundamental issue lying at the crux of the current dispute, even as his bureaucratic superiors refuse to support him by defining these very same terms. Hardly seems fair to expect a guy on the shop floor to make such a determination. In point of fact, they're hanging him out to dry.
Consequently, he then rendered an admirably Solomonic decision in the absence of coherence from his own cowardly agency: Tables pushed together henceforth means we are working as a unit, while tables not touching signifies separateness. We touched tables, and were redeemed in the eyes of the nanny Health Department, even though the ATC grasped it all along.
Monday will be two weeks since the appeal was filed, and I've heard nothing from the Floyd County Health Department unless I've been the one doing the asking. It's been more than a week since the public access request was submitted, and now the department must be given a "reasonable" amount of time to comply.
The department's wacky Orwellian fabrications ("nothing has changed, nothing to see here") are fooling absolutely no one in the community. It's a massive waste of time for vendors, but even worse, imagine the lost hours potentially better used by the health department itself, to address genuine public health issues.
Someone, anyone ... even Bueller: Why is this happening?