Friday, March 10, 2006

Annie Update

It happened that work took me to Greenfield, so I stopped for a minute to visit Ann Tomie, owner of Annie's Restaurant. I knew that the smoking bans affecting her business had been in effect for nine days, and I wanted to see how business was in this new climate.

The smoking bans are killing her business. This was forseeable by Ann. She knows her customers better than anyone. This is why Ann spoke up at Greenfield City Council meetings in opposition to the bans. She knew it would hurt her.

I stood with Ann Tomey outside her restaurant in October. I stand with her today.

What I didn't know was that Ann had appeared again before the City Council, yesterday, to report to them just how badly it was hurting her. From the Greenfield Reporter article:
Tomey approached the council saying she knows it is tired of seeing her and she is tired of coming to meetings, but she wanted the council to know one thing: The new ban on smoking in public is destroying her business.

“This might be the last thing I ask you to do, but talk to the workers,” Tomey said.

She then read a letter from a waitress at her downtown restaurant. The letter said the waitress cannot survive on the income she makes without tips due the lack of business she blamed on the new ordinance. Tomey said many people have been affected by the smoking ban and she had asked them to come to the meeting, but they didn’t show up.

The council listened, but members didn’t budge when they were again asked to change the law.

There was no sign of the tears that would later cause Tomey to leave the meeting when she told the council that this year she has made only $28,000 from her business, or about $500 to $600 of business daily. Since the smoking ordinance took effect March 1, she has had days where she only makes $125 from her business before expenses.
The Greenfield City Council is comprised of six Republicans and one Democrat. These officials did not consult Ann or any other restaurant owner prior to introducing the legislation. They remain unconcerned that her business is suffering. They have never been interested in defending her property rights. They have only been interested in passing feel-good legislation.

I can tell you this, from looking in Ann's face this morning- she doesn't feel good at all.

When I left the restaurant at 11:30 this morning, two diners occupied one table.

The Libertarian Party is the defender of small business owners like Ann Tomey. The Republicans and Democrats work together to crush small business, through their indifference and their unwillingness to consider secondary outcomes. Annie is the proof.

It's a tremendous shame that the people who believe in property rights have not been willing to appear in numbers at Town Council meetings. Without the numbers of citizens to confront government officials, and to run for office against them, they can safely surmise that there really isn't an opinion against them, and they need not change their ways.

People often ask me, "Mike, what can I do?" It's simple.

Be seen. Be heard. Sign your name to letters. Put signs in your front yard. Be enormously visible.

Take stock in John Hancock, signer of the Declaration of Independence. He knew that signing was an act of treason against the British, so he signed with a flourish.

The issues that confront us today and assault our freedoms are significant, but the risk we bear today is miniscule compared to what Hancock signed on for.


Michael said...

What are her chances if she puts up a sign that says "Smokers Welcome!", ignores the "law" and lets her customers do as they will? When the law is bad you not only have a right, but an obligation to disobey it. Perhaps if more people engaged in civil disobedience laws like this could be taken before the courts and a jury. Get a jury to excercise its 1000 year old right to challenge a law and more unjust laws will be thrown out.

Mike Kole said...

One of the problems Annie faces is lukewarm support, as was pointed to in the newspaper article. On the one hand, she gets a lot in the way of good wishes from sympathizers. But when it comes time for her support to show up at Council meetings or put their names to paper, the crowd suddenly thins out.

Libertarians often face this problem, too. Recall Dean Barkley's run for Carmel Mayor. He had a lot of verbal support, but when the time came, people were suddenly unwilling to post Barkley yard signs at their home or office.

I think Annie would be emboldened if she got the support visibly, in numbers.

I'll lead by example. I will host a dinner at Annie's in support of her right to run her business her way. This is one way we can help show her support. Stay tuned for details.