Jim Brunner does an adroit job in today's Times of zeroing in on the contentious tone of last night's Liquor Control Board hearing on the city's proposed Alcohol Impact Area (AIA) expansion. In short, a procession of foreign-born convenience store owners offered testimony that consistently painted the proposed cheap beer ban as, intentionally or otherwise, racist and classist. They're hard-working immigrants who are making an honest go of it, and cheap beer is all their similarly hard-working customers can afford. I also owe Brunner a forty of Olde English for not reporting that I walked face first into an automated glass door, proving once again that closing down the Rickshaw on a Wednesday night leaves one less than razor sharp the day after.
What Brunner didn't elaborate on is that the jury of three LCB members actually fired something other than softballs at city staffers Jordan Royer and Scott Minnix. Board member Roger Hoen wondered why the city would establish boundaries in Wallingford that exempted stores selling high-octane brew right across the street (equal protection, anyone?), to which Royer replied that the city worked to identify boundaries in concert with neighborhood captains.
And upon hearing once again that the city's AIAs have failed to date, LCB member Vera Ing remarked: "It seems to me that when you have voluntary compliance, there would be a slight decrease instead of an increase in problems." To which Minnix replied: "Compliance was so small that it didn't make a difference." Compliance (i.e., store owners who agreed to not sell the city's list of 34 cheap brands of beer), per the city, stands at 30 percent. As to whether or not that's a statistically insignificant participation rate, I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.