The Deseret News headline: "New DABC chairman, commissioner said it shouldn't matter that they don't drink."
Well, Chairman Sperry and Commissioner Gladwell are perfectly right: It shouldn't matter.
But everyone knows it does.
The point's been made so often that I'm bored to death just bringing it up again. Did you see the New York Times piece a couple weeks ago about Utah's liquor laws?
Yup, more great national publicity for Utah.
The article says that after all Gov. Jon Huntsman did to relax liquor laws, recent changes have restored the bizarre capriciousness of Utah's liquor laws, to the detriment of one of the state's top industries: tourism.
Here's the example in the Times: "Steven Maxwell spent $1 million building a dining club in Salt Lake City, Maxwell's East Coast Eatery, putting in exposed brick walls, black leather booths and a 100-foot-long oval bar made of reclaimed hickory. Then Mr. Maxwell, who has other clubs in the state, could not get a dining club license. So the strongest thing he sells with his food is beer that is 3.2 percent alcohol by weight. Now, I don't know if I can recoup that money Mr. Maxwell said. Why would I continue to invest in Utah if they're not helping you, if they're hurting you?"
Good question, Max.
But Utah's liquor laws aren't based on business sense. They're premised on LDS morality, the basic idea being that drinking is bad and the fewer drinks served, the better.
Sperry is past president of the Utah Medical Association, a University of Utah professor of anesthesiology, adjunct associate professor of economics, associate vice president for Health Sciences and director of the Matheson Center for Health Care Studies.Gladwell is an attorney who works with substance abusers in the juvenile court system. According to the D News, he said he has an interest in the department's programs aimed at preventing underage drinking.
Right on. No one's imbibers or teetotalers wants underage drinkers, no one's in favor of drunk driving, no one is pro-alcoholism.
That's not the issue. Where's the person on the DABC who has some feeling for the hospitality business? The business growth, the jobs created, the economy boost? Who understands that the world drinks. There is nothing wrong with drinking. Moderate drinking is good for you.
Sperry said whether commissioners can be fair and compassionate is more important than whether they drink or not.So to be fair myself, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe these guys don't need to drink to be fair to, and show compassion for, bar and restaurant owners, brewers, winemakers, bartenders, servers and the well-being of a city where most people like to bend their elbow now and again.
Maybe they'll see that being a nanny state is not in the best interests of most Utahns.
But I doubt it.