No Choice For You!

If you ever wanted a clear example of what school choice advocates mean when they complain about the mindset of teacher’s unions in opposing vouchers and parent’s choice in their child’s schooling, look no further. Straight from the horses (Louisiana Association of Educators Executive Director Michael Walker Jones) mouth:

“If I’m a parent in poverty I have no clue because I’m trying to struggle and live day to day,” Jones said. “The idea of parents making decisions simply based on choice is the abandonment of public schools,” Jones said. He later added, “That’s not education reform, that’s just privatization.”

In other words: Parents, your children will go to the schools I tell them to regardless of your preferences (which you’re probably incapable of having anyway).

As of Tuesday night, January 24, 2012 Jones still has his job. Is this what the teachers he represents believe as well? That’s a scary thought. If not, why haven’t they called for his removal? Hopefully he’ll do the honorable thing and resign. What possible explanation can he have for his outrageously offensive remarks above, as reported by the Times-Picayune? If you would like to voice your displeasure with Dr. Jones please write him here  mwalker-jones@lae.org or call his office at 225-343-9243  x104. Let us know in the comments what you hear.

Fortunately, people like Jones are losing the battle over education in New Orleans and Louisiana. For an example of better news, check out this reason.tv video shot in New Orleans just last week at the kickoff for National School Choice Week.

Another reason.tv video explaining the national developments in school choice.

 

Racism in NOLA City Council Race?

Eugene Green announced today (Monday, January 23, 2012) that he is dropping out of the March 24 election for Arnie Fielkow’s vacated City Council seat. The reasons? Racism. What else could he possibly mean by this comment, other than racism?

“I’m willing to defer my aspirations in the interest of enhancing the opportunity for a qualified African-American candidate to do well in this election”

This is appalling. While I am not necessarily calling Mr. Green a racist, his comments are unacceptably so. A week ago today we observed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and now, instead of wishing to enhance the opportunity for the most qualified candidate to do well in the election, as Dr. King dreamed of, Green would rather the best “African-American candidate” do well.

How can we hope to approach the issues that challenge our city and region when the candidates themselves still frame their worldview around race? Obviously, we can’t. Mr. Green, I implore you to broaden your worldview beyond race and instead, desire our city’s leaders to be the most qualified, competent, and visionary regardless of their race.

Where Are All the Microbreweries?

So, you want to start your own New Orleans microbrewery huh? Seems like a cool idea. Shockingly (to me), we don’t have many good, local beers being made in New Orleans or Louisiana in spite of a sizable vibrant, young entrepreneurial population that enjoys knocking back a couple (or few). Surely it’s not lack of innovation or desire. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a roadblock? Well, lets see.

Good tasting recipe, check. Building to brew in, check. Equipment to brew with, check. Awesome design for labels, check. Sounds like you’re on your way. Oh wait, you may want to check here first. That’s where you can read Revised Statute 26 of the state of Louisiana. And there’s more. That’s the requirements of the city of New Orleans. Allow me to save you the drudgery of sifting through the assorted fees, laws, fees, restrictions, fees, limitations, fees, etc. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you, a step by step guide on how to legally (I’ll leave the business plan to you) start a microbrewery in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. and A.

First, you must be at least 18 yrs old, been a LA resident for previous 2 years, be a US and LA citizen, never been convicted of a felony (or your spouse), not owe delinquent sales taxes, submit to fingerprinting (for a fee) and a FBI background check (for a fee), and mail your state and city permit applications within 24 hours of each other.

Next, you must decide if you will be manufacturing beers over 6% alcohol content or producing more than 12,500 barrels (48,438 pints) a year. If so, stop right here. You cannot be a microbrewery or sell on site directly to customers, you must be classified solely as a manufacturer and sell directly through wholesale distributors. Below, I outline the necessary steps for manufacturers and microbreweries.

Manufacturer

  1. Pay the state $1000/year for manufacturing an alcoholic beverage over 6% alcohol content or in excess of 12,500 barrels.
  2. You may only sell your beer to a licensed wholesaler.
  3. Each year you must pay a “gallonage tax” of $10/barrel with no barrel holding more than 31 gallons (248 pints). However, for beers <6% alc. content you may receive a 2% discount on taxes due if you pay them “accurately and timely.”
  4. You must acquire a bond in the amount of $10,000 for each type of permit you hold to guarantee payment of taxes and penalties.
  5. You’re probably going to need an attorney to help you comply with all reporting requirements and to help you understand your contractual obligations in selling to wholesalers.
  6. Since you’ll be operating in New Orleans you must get a local permit and you’ll pay a non-refundable $500 application processing fee, $135 for being a beer business, and a $50 (minimum) occupational license fee.
  7. If your business happens to be in the Vieux Carre Zoning District you must pay a $50 processing fee and a $125 permit issuance fee.

So, it’s pretty straightforward what’s required for being a manufacturer. After investing in creating a product that makes people happy you lose a significant amount of control over where it can be sold. Certainly not ideal.

Microbrewery

  1. Acquire Retailers, Class A permit for $120 that allows you to sell on site but not at wholesale.
  2. Acquire Microbrewer permit for $1000 that allows you to brew and sell no more than 12,500 barrels a year of not more than 6% alcohol content beer.
  3. Since you can sell at retail you must pay a “fee” of $100 for every $100,000 in gross sales.
  4. Each year you must pay a “gallonage tax” of $10/barrel manufactured with no barrel holding more than 31 gallons (248 pints). However, you may receive a 2% discount on taxes due if you pay them “accurately and timely.”
  5. You’re probably going to need an attorney to help you comply with all reporting requirements and to help you stay within the law as a retailer.
  6. You must acquire a bond in the amount of $10,000 for each type (2) of permit you hold to guarantee payment of taxes and penalties.
  7. Since you’ll be operating in New Orleans you must get a local permit to manufacture and you’ll pay a non-refundable $500 application processing fee, $135 for being a beer business, and a $50 (minimum) occupational license fee.
  8. If your business happens to be in the Vieux Carre Zoning District you must pay a $50 processing fee and a $125 permit issuance fee.

In other words, for the desire to have a local business that allows you to interact more personally with your customers and allow them to better sample your product before buying it in stores or at a bar you must limit the upside of your business and variety of your products.

No wonder we don’t see more microbreweries in Louisiana, much less New Orleans. Yes, I’m sure there are other factors as well, such as the inability (I think, but I’m no farmer) to grow hops locally, but do we really need all these restrictions and fees? At a minimum the 12,500 barrel production limit should be increased significantly. Why is 6% alcohol content the dividing line? And why can wine producers sell directly to their customers when beer manufacturers can’t? Also, I think ultimately we need to seriously reconsider the 3 tier distribution system. After researching this article, I’m amazed how cheap drinks are in this city once you take into account the 3 parties who get paid by it’s sale.

Why do we need a middle-man? Especially when a situation can arise where you, as a manufacturer, choose to change wholesalers but by law must wait 24 MONTHS until your new wholesaler can sell to the bars/retailers your previous wholesaler sold to! Why shouldn’t you be able to sell your beer directly to a bar or liquor store who wants to carry your product? Crazy, right? Seems to me that alcohol distributors had a heavy hand in getting this 3 tier system placed into law just to force suppliers to use them. One thing is for certain though, these laws need serious reform. Here’s looking at you, 2012 legislative session.

Nolatarian Goes to Washington 12/12/11 – 12/20/11

“Nolatarian Goes to Washington” is a weekly column on the activities of Louisiana Senators David Vitter and Mary Landrieu and Congressmen Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond.

Senate

The last week of floor votes for 2011. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter had one more chance to vote against the National Defense Authorization Act with the Conference Report that accompanied the House version of the bill in it’s passing on to the president, but of course they didn’t. So, the government marches on to ignoring the 5th Amendment. They both also voted for the ever so critical Reid-McConnell Amendment 1465 to the Middle Class Relief and Job Creation Act that extends the payroll tax cut for all of 2 months. At least the act includes a provision that will force a decision by the president on the Keystone XL pipeline within 2 months.

In other Senatorial news this week, Vitter proudly announced that the US Mint was discontinuing production of the $1 presidential coin. Big whoop. If he really wants to get serious about eliminating “mindless government waste” he would propose a bill that scraps production of the penny which actually costs more to make than it’s worth, unlike the $1 coin. So, Senator Vitter, please take on the zinc lobby and introduce a bill that gets rid of pennies and then come talk to us. Thanks.

House of Representatives

Final week of the year for voting in the House as well. Steve Scalise voted for and Cedric Richmond against the payroll tax cut bill. However, Scalise gave a speech complaining about the stop gap measure in favor of a more long term solution of a whole year.

Scalise contributed some good news on 12/16/11 however, with the introduction of HR 3675 in tandem with S 2008 sponsored by Sen DeMint. The bills make up the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act which would deregulate aspects of the television industry. Some highlights from the press release:

“The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, and the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act ensures that by removing the heavy-hand of government, the market is free to operate in a way that continues to benefit consumers and encourage innovation.”

“The bill removes government interference from what should be free market business relationships between and among content creators, network programmers, television broadcast stations, and multichannel video programming distributors. The bill maintains intellectual property rights for copyright holders and privacy protections for customers of cable and satellite companies.”

And thus ends at the very least an interesting year in Congress in 2011. 2012 is an election year for Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond and I will be eagerly looking at and for their competition. Everything our representatives did this year wasn’t horrible, but certainly left a lot to be desired. So onward we go.