The Ohio statehouse has cleared the way for liquor—not at your local bar or restaurant, but at the Ohio Capitol in Columbus. The Capitol cafe will have a flat-screen TV and host special public events, including happy hour. We are not making this up, although it might seem like that, reading from the state that frowns on happy-hour specials and is now defending itself from a lawsuit by the Utah Hospitality Association. The association is none too happy about a recent law that restricts the number of bar and club liquor licenses and prohibits discounted drinks at happy hour. This is all illegal restraint of trade, the association says. But legislators say they can regulate liquor all they want—and they will. This is not your Ohio statehouse.
When in doubt about conflicts of interest, replace one friend with another. Developer Terry Diehl has long been the subject of conflicts and questions about his strategic place on boards that deal directly with developments benefiting his businesses. Most recently, Diehl resigned from the board of the Utah Transit Authority after saying that, yes, he likes to develop land around transit stops. No word on whether he used inside info to buy rights near a Draper stop, but the clock was ticking on his UTA tenure. House Speaker Becky Lockhart appointed Draper city councilman Troy Walker to replace Diehl. Walker has worked with Diehl on other developments, and it makes you wonder how anything has really changed. Diehl also got a special pass to conduct business with UTA with no “cooling off” period.
The Sutherland Institute has its panties in a bunch over the possibility that kids who are able to afford their own might be getting a free lunch. A state program offers free lunch in the summer to anyone under 18 in areas where more than 50 percent of children qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch. It’s a way of preserving dignity—not asking parents for income statements or sending unqualified kids packing. But Sutherland sees this as a government program fostering dependence at the expense of your taxpaying neighbors. The program is inherently flawed, Sutherland says, because it’s the government holding out a carrot in exchange for dependence. And, boy, did they really get pissed when a mom posted on a coupon-saving site that free lunches were a great way to trim your budget.