In the August 17 issue of the Free Press Advocate, we were treated to some ridiculous quotes made against Berkot’s selling beer and wine. Wasting no time today, to the quotes we go.
Former Wilmington mayor Roy Strong spoke against Berkot’s, saying “I don’t understand why everybody wants cheap beer. We don’t want to end up making more beer available for teens. We need to make it harder for them to get alcohol.”
Keeping beer prices artificially high does not prevent teens from acquiring it. It’s not like they’re walking down to Wee-Sips and walking out with two cases of beer now. The same will hold true at Berkot’s. If you know of anything to the contrary Mr. former mayor, maybe you should speak up. If there are back door deals going on the police should be involved. The sad truth of the matter is teens who want to drink will find a way. Underage drinking has been a problem long before Berkot’s existed. Berkot’s selling beer and wine has absolutely no effect on underage drinking. Be a better parent if you don’t want your child drinking illegally.
Superintendent of the Wilmington School District Jay Plese asked and answered his own question, “Do we need more liquor establishments. I don’t think so.” Continuing with his small minded thoughts, “I don’t want to see the town grow by 5,000 people and issuing more liquor licenses turns it into a health issue for the community, too.”
I think Mr. Plese’s comment about not wanting the town to grow is the most honest anybody has been about this matter. Many people are afraid of Wilmington growing. They think Berkot’s will get a liquor license and suddenly the Home Depot will be building across the street from Ace. I wish. Saying issuing more liquor licenses is a health issue is a joke. It’s downright insulting. Do you think so lowly of the people of Wilmington that we will all become drunkards at the sight of more reasonably priced beer and wine? If it’s such a health issue, why don’t you start a campaign to close down the liquor stores. All of them. Make Wilmington a dry city. Is there nothing you can do to make our schools better with your $171,264 2010 salary? Maybe you could spend some of your free time helping kids not get run over by cars instead of telling adults where we should spend our money.
Another former mayor, Tony McGann, also commented on the alleged public health issue.
“Citizen” Bob Weilding expressed concern over giving the mayor the power to issue licenses. He said “My concern is the ordinance would give the mayor the right to give a license whenever and to whomever he wants. There would be no representation by aldermen to the people in their wards.”
I put “citizen” in quotes because the newspaper was not being very straightforward in this article. Sure, he’s a citizen, but as reported May 26, 2010, Bob Weilding “helps oversee the stores doing business under Angelo’s Inc.” So with that disclaimer out of the way, I also don’t think the mayor should have unlimited power to assign licenses. There should be a set of requirements laid out. If a business meets those requirements, they can pay whatever the fees are and have a license. Simple and fair. Most importantly with this quote, I hope Weidling’s connection to Angelo’s was an innocent oversight, and not the paper being intentionally deceitful in choosing to not remind the readers of a fact that is critical to the man’s judgment.
Jeff Shell, manager of Wee-Sips, brought in some irrelevant statistics to try to make his case. He provided information stating that Wilmington has had the lowest population growth percentage of the surrounding towns in the past 10 years. “It is my opinion, based on the 2010 census, that our community has not grown enough to support issuing unlimited beer and wine licenses.”
Well Mr. Shell, it is my opinion that you are only concerned about your bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t be making nonsensical arguments about what you think the town can support. It is not Wilmington’s responsibility to keep supporting your business. Provide great products and great service, and the business will follow. Even if our population growth was 100% you wouldn’t think it is “enough” to support unlimited licenses. You’re afraid about losing your business. Just call it like it is.
Jay Penny of Angelo’s Liquors decided to fight fire with fire. Trying to deflect attention away from the fact that their prices are higher, he went on the offensive. Claiming the same ten specific items bought at Walmart and Berkot’s were $10 cheaper at Walmart, “I don’t know if we have a liquor problem or a grocery problem? What is the real issue? Why are people shopping outside of Wilmington?”
Zing! I bet Walmart has cheaper beer and wine than you too, though. Their alcohol is probably cheaper than Berkot’s would be too. I think you were trying to make an argument against Berkot’s, but it sounded like an argument for Walmart, but I’m sure you’d throw a fit if Walmart wanted to build in town. The people who leave town to buy groceries because they think food prices at Berkot’s are too high are going to continue to do so.
I don’t think I’ve seen anybody claim Berkot’s has prices cheaper than Walmart. Without a major corporation coming into town, local prices are always going to be higher than taking a trip to Joliet to go to the Targets and Walmarts of the world. The problem here is trying to stop local business from competing with other local business.
The paper said the count was six against, two in favor of the added licenses. So the six against were two business owners (Shell and Penny), two former mayors (Strong and McGann), a guy who “helps oversee” Angelo’s (Weidling), and the school superintendent. Such a diverse group of good old boys club minded people!
One last quote for you today. Before this was brought up again, Fourth Ward Alderman Helen Hoppe said “After I voted no the last time this came up, I had a lot of people call me and tell me my job is not for the people who own the stores, my job is for the people in this town, and they all want it.”
That’s exactly right. It’s sad how our elected officials would even have to be reminded of this. Your job as an alderman is not to vote how you feel. It’s not to vote based on your personal moral system. It’s not to vote based on your faith. It’s not to vote based on personal financial gain, grudges, or an. Your job is to represent the people of your ward. Maybe if you listened the first go around, you wouldn’t have had all those people calling you to remind you that it’s not your job to protect three business owners.
Have you seen any other crazy quotes about this mess? Let us know and we’ll break them down in a future post.