I generally think we need less government and I am of the opinion that public administrators know little or nothing at all about operating a business — or operating in a business-like fashion, much of the time.
That said, regulation of certain businesses, especially those that entreat the public trust, is a very legitimate purpose of government. In St Augustine, there is no better example than the business of tourism.
I support the involvement necessary to establish standards of quality, testing, and licensing to demonstrate the professional competence of, and regulatory compliance by, our local tourism businesses.
A local tour operator has contacted the administration and members of the St Augustine City Commission, ostensibly asking to change the necessary laws to allow horse-drawn carriages the ability to sell alcoholic beverages to their fares, and for those patrons to be allowed to drink from open containers as their tour the city.
Without commenting on the merits, benefits, or detriments of changing the law in the future, I am flabbergasted that we are not enforcing the laws that are already in place.
Any legitimate business operator has already taken the time to research the rules and regulations that apply to their business — to think otherwise, is absurd. Those who operate their business outside properly enacted, legally enforceable ordinances should be barred from further business activity until such time as they bring their operation into compliance. They should be fined or penalized for any violations.
The confessions of JoAnna P. Engel in her letter to the city are too fantastic to be believable. Engel is not new to this business. Engle has operated outside the law by advertising illegal consumption of alcoholic beverages on her tours; all the while charging tour patrons money to commit the illegal activities.
As a proposed ordinance, one that would accommodate Engel’s business plan, moves to public hearing at the next commission meeting, I hope the commission will not shirk their responsibility to insure those making money off of tourists, are doing so legally.