Can you legislate morality or not?
While Alpena Mayor Carol Shafto and members of council aren't going to be directly answering that question next week, they are interested in knowing the community's sentiment regarding the Sunday morning sale of liquor within city limits.
The Michigan Legislature recently passed legislation allowing for the Sunday sale of liquor beginning at 7 a.m. By adding several hours to the sale opportunities Sundays, legislators believed it would result in significant extra revenue for both businesses and the state, via the tax collected on it.
Local communities, however, have the option to "opt out" of the new hours should they wish. Shafto said the issue would be discussed at council's first meeting of the year Tuesday. Council is meeting that day since city hall is closed Monday for its New Year's Day observance.
I appreciate the fact Shafto sought the community's input regarding the issue. As she said, too often council members hear reaction after a decision is made, but not before it. On such a sensitive issue such as this, she didn't want that to occur this time.
"There are pros and cons for businesses," Shafto said. "If they feel they will really benefit from it, then should we be interfering with their ability to make a living?
"On the other hand, I believe it (the original Sunday morning ban) was put into effect initially out of respect and reverence for the faith community, and they may have an opinion on that. We haven't formed an opinion, but we do have to make the decision."
While time is getting late to have your voice be heard, as long as it reaches city hall by Tuesday morning, Shafto and council members will see your thoughts.
Personally, I am opposed to the concept and find it hard to believe that getting that "extra jump" on Sunday morning alcohol purchases will make that much difference to any business. However, this issue isn't going to be one that impacts me at all, nor do I believe it will most people.
And, in the long run, this is not the issue that I would want to define that proverbial "line in the sand" between morality and immorality, right versus wrong.
Regardless Shafto was absolutely correct in seeking public opinion regarding it and I really appreciate that opportunity.
Since she asked, I would like city council to "opt out" of the Sunday morning sales and continue with past policy.
What about you?