Drew's views

Drew's views

October 12th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

HEADLINE: Chattanooga Whiskey can't be made in Chattanooga due to prohibition-era laws

THE RECAP: The Chattanooga Whiskey Co., run by a pair of local entrepreneurs, has been forced to locate its business operations and produce its product in Indiana because antiquated laws prohibit liquor production in Hamilton County. The company estimates that a local distillery could yield a dozen jobs and more than $150,000 in tax and tourism dollars annually.

Allowing whiskey production in Hamilton County requires a two-step process. First, state lawmakers would have to vote in favor of empowering Hamilton County with the option to permit liquor production. In such cases, members of the Tennessee General Assembly typically vote however the lawmakers from that county ask them to vote. Second, the Hamilton County Commission would need to pass legislation to allow the distilleries.

Currently, Hamilton County's state lawmakers and county commissioners are split on the issue.

DREW'S VIEW: It's ludicrous that prohibition-era laws are still preventing a business that produces a product that can be sold legally in Hamilton County from making that product in Hamilton County. Just as ludicrous is the bogus logic employed by elected officials who want to keep the distillery out of Hamilton County.

State Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, and County Commissioner Greg Beck are leading the fight against creating jobs, supporting small business, generating tax revenues and creating opportunities for tourism by allowing the production of whiskey in Hamilton County. Their nonsensical arguments boil down to the laughable notion that if a small business is allowed to produce expensive, high quality whiskey in Hamilton County, bodies will fill the streets and drunks will line the sidewalks.

What enemies of the Chattanooga Whiskey Co.'s right to produce a legal product locally fail to grasp is that the business will produce whiskey regardless of whether they continue to make it in Indiana or are granted the opportunity to move their distillery to Hamilton County.

There will be the same amount of whiskey either way. There will be the same number of people drinking alcohol either way. Having the distillery in Hamilton County won't create more alcoholics or cause more drunk driving accidents.

What having the distillery in Hamilton County will create, however, are more local jobs, an improved local economy, an increase in local and state tax revenues, and a neat new local tourist attraction to draw visitors to Hamilton County.

Let's hope that Floyd, Beck and other opponents of common sense end their opposition to liquor production in Hamilton County and allow state and county lawmakers to grant the folks behind the Chattanooga Whiskey Co. the opportunity to earn a living in Hamilton County.

It's only reasonable that a company with "Chattanooga" in its name is actually allowed to operate in Chattanooga.

•••

HEADLINE: Walker County Health Department investigating tattoo artist

THE RECAP: A Fort Oglethorpe man who man paid $20 for a large tattoo of a marijuana leaf surrounded by the Confederate battle flag above his knee says the tattoo left him with a severe bacterial infection and pain all the way to his groin. A number of infections and botched tattoos are now being linked to the amateur tattoo artist, who previously worked as a wedding photographer. The Walker County Health Department is investigating the matter.

DREW'S VIEW: We can all learn an important lesson from this event. Giving an Andy Jackson to your wedding photographer to come over to the trailer and give you a large tattoo of a marijuana leaf surrounded by the Confederate flag may seem like a really great idea.

In reality, when getting a large tattoo of a marijuana leaf surrounded by the Confederate flag, it is important to use only reputable, respected tattoo artists and have the procedure performed in a sterile environment. And no, the ottoman where the cat sleeps is not a sterile environment, even if your brush off the pork rind crumbs first.

•••

HEADLINE: Finding allergy relief could be more difficult for Tennesseans under proposed regulations

THE RECAP: Three Tennessee cities, including Chattanooga, made the top 11 of the nation's 100 fall allergy capitals. Tennesseans looking for allergy relief, however, are limited in the amount of medications containing pseudoephedrine they can purchase and, when they buy it, must show identification and have their personal information submitted to an online database. This procedure is an effort to reduce meth. Pseudoephedrine is an ingredient used in meth production.

Some state law enforcement agencies are pressuring state lawmakers to pass legislation requiring a prescription to purchase allergy and congestion medications containing pseudoephedrine. Examples of medications that contain pseudoephedrine include Actifed, Sudafed, Theraflu and Claritin-D.

DREW'S VIEW: The process required just to buy simple cold and allergy medication in Tennessee and many other states assumes that any purchaser of pseudoephedrine will use it to make meth, rather than to stop sneezing. The hoops creating by state lawmakers at the behest of law enforcement agencies is an attack on the innocent.

I would rather it be easier for a few criminals to make meth and allow Tennesseans to purchase cold medicine with privacy and dignity than to inconvenience so many innocent people and subject them to a database that allows government to see what they buy and where they buy under the guise of fighting meth.

•••

HEADLINE: Wayne White helped make 'weird' cool

THE RECAP: "Beauty Is Embarrassing," a documentary about the Hixson born artist Wayne White will be screened this weekend at Wynnsong 10.

The film is directed by Neil Berkeley and features appearances by musician Mark Mothersbaugh, fashion designer Todd Oldham, "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening, illustrator Gary Panter, animator Ric Heitzman and actor Paul Reubens.

White's creation as a painter, sculptor, cartoonist and filmmaker has made him perhaps the most celebrated visual artist ever to come out of the Chattanooga area. He is best known for his work on "Pee-wee's Playhouse" and music videos including "Tonight, Tonight" by The Smashing Pumpkins and Peter Gabriel's "Big Time."

White, a self-proclaimed "freak" and "oddball," will speak Saturday and Sunday following the 6:50 p.m. screenings.

DREW'S VIEW: Many Chattanoogans - myself included - have watched Twitter feeds and websites in frustration as "Beauty Is Embarrassing" made its way to dozens of cities over the past few months, without ever being shown in White's hometown. Any local fan of the arts should take advantage of this unique opportunity to celebrate the work of one of the most important artists ever to come out of Southeast Tennessee.

Watching this documentary about Wayne White is also a chance to prove to local movie theaters that our community will support more independent and documentary films. If the Chattanooga arts scene has one glaring shortcoming, it's the limited opportunities to see films that aren't major releases. This could be a small step towards correcting that problem.

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared in the Times Free Press over the past week. Follow Drew on Twitter: @Drews_Views.