Quite a one-two punch. First, Kevin Leininger's column:
The state collected $395,686 in food and beverage taxes from Allen County bars and restaurants in June, down a whopping 27.8 percent from the same time last year.
A reasonable person might conclude the decrease had something to do with the city's near-absolute public smoking ban, which took effect June 1. A reasonable person might also expect members of City Council to show some concern over the economic hardships their actions may have caused.
Instead, in a buck-passing display of epic proportions, some council members last month actually tried to blame the county for the loss of business that may have already forced some city bars to close.
Then there is Bob Caylor's story, same day:
In recent years, three-way liquor licenses - which allow the sale of beer, wine and hard liquor — have commanded $100,000 to $120,000 on the open market, Charleston Auctions Inc. President Chad Olson told prospective bidders Monday.
But that was before the city's smoking ban brought new uncertainty to the tavern, nightclub and restaurant businesses. It was also before the state's widespread crackdown on Cherry Masters deprived many bar owners of that long-tolerated but illegal stream of income.
When Olson closed the bidding on the liquor license for Northwood Bar and Grill, 6035 Stellhorn Road, the top bid was only $65,000. That was below Northwood owner Peter Tsuleff's reserve, and he ultimately decided against selling, at least for now.
Perhaps City Council members are right, and revenue from non-smokers will more than make up for the revenue lost from smokers. But the nearby presence of county bars at which people can still smoke seems to be creating a unique situation here. How much evidence must accumulate before council members change their tune from "It will all get better" to a more honest "We're sorry for the hardship, but the public health comes first"?