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Lemonade Warriors

With so many issues left unresolved, you'd think Montgomery County could do a better job at picking its battles.

Sometimes you just have to wonder about the politics of this place.

Our local economy is sputtering again, the housing market is flirting with a double-dip, our transportation system is getting more congested and crumbling around us, and local and state budgets are showing years of red ink ahead. Yet, amid all of these truly important issues, what has prompted the most vigorous response from Montgomery County officials lately?

Prohibiting fire and rescue personnel from "passing the boot" to raise money for muscular dystrophy and cracking down on illicit lemonade stands at the U.S. Open. 

Wow, I sure feel a lot better, how about you?

I have always wondered about this "passing the boot" issue. As I understand it, such solicitations are not technically permitted, unless the participants stay on the median and do not enter the intersections, which apparently has not always been the case. So in comes our brave County Councilmember Phil Andrews to end this grave threat to our public safety once and for all by banning the practice completely. Never mind that this campaign has been going on for many years, without a single serious injury or incident, and yet "safety concerns" are the stated reason for the crackdown.

The bigger question is this: Why do we care? The end result of this once-a-year campaign is that lots of money gets raised for an important charitable cause, lots of kids get help, and no one gets hurt. So why, looking back all at the serious issues we’re facing, does this one become a priority for an immediate legislative fix? With all due respect to Mr. Andrews, I think the council has a few more important issues on their plate.

Not to be outdone, the executive branch swung into action this week, shutting down and slapping a $500 fine on a group of children (and their parents) for operating a lemonade stand without a permit at the U.S. Open. Technically, from a narrowly legalistic point of view, the permit inspector probably had a point, but county officials quickly backpedaled in the face of a loud public outcry against what was clearly seen as a case of overzealous enforcement. The fine was dropped and the stand was allowed to re-open a short distance away, but our image as a hyper-regulatory hotbed was once again reinforced. 

In both cases, one might wonder: Where was the common sense here, or a sense of proportion? When we parents get a little too hyper-reactive and blow a gasket over some minor infraction by our kids, sometimes they gently remind us, "Dad, take a chill pill."

Maybe it’s time our county officials took that same bit of sage advice, or better yet, kick back with a nice cool glass of lemonade and just let it go. It’s really just not that important.

Jay Levy June 19, 2011 at 01:29 PM
What the authorities should have been regulating is the unconscionable practice of homeowners near Congressional who are charging up to $100 per day to park cars on their property
Jim Coyle June 19, 2011 at 02:45 PM
Unfortuntely, given our litigious environment, if the County does not fully implement the laws on the books, they will be sued. But, common sense should prevail when fun, inconsequential activities are being carried out. At a minimum, a warning could be given asking the violators not to carry out the activity another time but let them continue for the time being.
Bob June 19, 2011 at 04:10 PM
I think the inspector needs to have his head removed from a particular orifice. This citing and fine only goes to show how the one party system in Maryland has gone overboard. It certainly says something about the loss of intellect that is rampid in this County and State. Tort reform is a beginning.
Marjorie Fuller June 19, 2011 at 04:14 PM
The parents of these children should have purchased a license to teach them that you shouldn't go through life avoiding the rules.
FRANK A SAVERSKY June 19, 2011 at 05:03 PM
i'm sorry.... are you married to mr.andrews?????, or perhaps you dont care for lemonade either..
FRANK A SAVERSKY June 19, 2011 at 05:17 PM
i would be very interested to learn what mr andrews has against jerrys kids, boots, lemonade,and or firemen <who definately risk their lives in much more dangerous situations than dodging a slow moving ford once in awhile>.. picking your battles is definately a good thing now days and personally i believe good ole phil swung twice & missed... since slander is a favorite now days, i certainly would not want to call mr andrews a $#@*&^g &*^k in print or in person but i would be happy to let him know i would be willing to put the old card table at the bottom of the driveway next saturday around 2pm and a cardboard sign stating LEMONADE 25C A CUP by the way.. the Lions Club is selling brooms in front of Safeway and i dont remember seeing a posted permit..... yes phil, i am a registered voter... anyone want to join me and sell some homemade cookies?? FRANK A SAVERSKY
Isabel June 19, 2011 at 07:10 PM
The Montgomery County Council is surely making a name for itself lately......back taxes not being paid, the fiasco with the county school budget, illegal immigrants, lemonade stands, passing the boot, etc... What about the panhandlers that are at New Hampshire Avenue and Randolph Road, they come out into the lanes of traffic with their signs and stand in front of your window until you acknowledge them - why are they not being removed? Why is it that those that put their lives at risk and are trying to do something good, like our firefighters are the ones to be banned. I think registered voters really need to do their homework before voting - these council members are not doing the right thing and we need to clean slate.
Syd June 20, 2011 at 02:51 AM
What was left out of the lemonade story was that the PARENTS were given a warning that they weren't allowed to have the stand there and they needed to move it. They ignored the warning and when the authorities came back is when they got the fine (and the parents got the fine, not the kids). So, regardless of whether or not you think this is waste of county resources, is that the kind of message parents want to send their kids, that if they're told they are in violation of the law, they should just ignore it?
Malcolm Wilson June 20, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Pupusa Trucks, Panhandlers, Flower Sales at the beltway exits...this inspector could be raising enough funds to balance the budget if he worked harder. There are four to five panhandlers every day between Ga and Univ Blvd and University and Viers Mill. That's $1K right there. This group of Council members seems to be very misguided.
Jeff Hawkins June 20, 2011 at 02:53 PM
Yet another typical Montgomery County move. It's always easier and less trouble to after the legal, helpful and innocent of the County. Pick almost any busy intersection in the County and you will have to dodge the "panhandler's on a daily basis. This County has a long history of trying to flex their Governmental muscle from time to time. In addition they have a fine history of "stepping into it"...............they succeeded once again.
Richard Rice June 20, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Isn't it time that perhaps we need to vote in a group of County Council members who are honestly interested in the good of the community they are living in rather than constantly trying to get themselves reelcted simply for the sake of their egos getting stoked?
Jeff Hawkins June 20, 2011 at 05:04 PM
It's a noble thought and one I hope the citizen's of Montgomery County would take to heart, but there are some major political machines running in the County. These machines have been in place for decades and sadly the populace will always make the "comfortable" choice. We need change, we need activism, we need a new direction.
Betty Kuck June 22, 2011 at 03:09 AM
The permit cost $300, I understand. Were the children going to make $300? The money was to help children stricken with cancer. The children were learning to be good civic members by helping those who are in great need. Yes, they need to understand that they are to follow the laws. But a lemonade stand is a rite of passage and the county needs to get with the spirit of the situation. There should not be a need for a license to run a charitable lemonade stand by children. Where do the regulations stop?
ilkunta July 03, 2011 at 07:39 PM
@Syd: I wasnt aware that the parents were given a warning first. Are you sure that is what happened? If a warning was issued surely the county inspector's office would have relased that info to counter all the backlash they were reveing over ticketing the kids' parents.
Theresa Defino July 04, 2011 at 01:44 AM
A warning was given and ignored. Why is this incident being hung on the county council?

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