Friday, June 28, 2013

Concert tonight, but the PourGate saga continues as we prepare to vend Progressive Pints under protest.

Tonight will be the fourth installment of the city's summer concert series at Bicentennial Park in downtown New Albany.

The band is Quiet Hollers, and the format is precisely as before: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. For the third consecutive Friday, NABC and its sub-caterers will be serving adult libations under explicit protest, pending an appeal of the Floyd County Health Department's decision to enhance its revenue by harassing drinks dispensers who already possess all necessary temporary permits from the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission.

The most recent development came yesterday, with a prompt e-mail reply to me from the state's Public Access Counselor. So far, the health department is complying with the requisite deadlines for disclosure, according to the process for providing the information I've requested (a five-year history of temporary food service permit citations).

Earlier in the week ...

On Monday morning, I provided readers with a complete update from the front: Updating the Floyd County Health Department's "Beer Pour War" of 2013.

Not unsurprisingly, it turns out that searching the Floyd County Health Department's web site for the word "beer" yields zero results: Isn't this an indictment of our entire American society?

Ground Control "reached out" to Doctor Tom: "In an effort to facilitate seemingly scant communication," my e-mail to Dr. Harris.

He didn't reply, but a subordinate did, informing me that NABC's request would serve as a brilliant example of county government's habitual in-breeding: Health Department refers public access request to same attorney who advises commissioners -- making a full circle.

Having received valuable advice from an unlikely source, it was time to notify the state's ombudsman -- just to preclude stonewalling: My note to the Indiana Public Access Counselor, informing the office of my request of the Floyd County Health Department.

That's where we stand as another week concludes, and I'll venture only one further observation: Public opinion overwhelmingly is registering disdain for the health department's usurpation in this instance.

Strangers have been stopping me on the street to chat about the situation, and in spite of the impetus for this non-food based harassment landing squarely on one side of the county's political aisle, what I'm hearing is firmly bi-partisan annoyance with the department's excesses ... at all levels.

Significantly, public opinion mirrors my own, in the sense of support for the health department's mandated surveillance of food and food preparation, but exasperation as to its frequent over-reaching and meddling in areas outside its statutory authority.

That's what this is about. The state ATC regulates drinks; health departments regulate food. It's as simple as that. No other health department in the state is laying claim to what Dr. Harris sees as is his department's sudden obligation to control temporary draft beer pours. It seems that the opinion of his fellow bureaucrats is against the FCHD, too. Shouldn't that tell you something?

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