Asses and lipservice
In fact, were those who scarf down wieners on a semi-regular basis in the know of the process involved in the making this curious link, they probably wouldn’t be too thrilled at the prospect of buying them, much less from a pushcart in the park.
And the franks Ed Miller sold from his carousel-side dog cart were no exception. But Congress Park strollers liked ’em, and they made it evident in their massive outpouring of comments since the short-lived vendor was expunged by City Hall. To these walkers, he offered a cheap way to load up and move on while meandering through the park on a sunny day. The only problem was that he had no real legal right to sell his fare in the park, as a law suit would soon alert the city.
Sure enough, if one fellow seems to have a good thing going, another capitalist is going to come along and look for a piece of action. That capitalist was Kathy Kahl, who was chagrined when the city refused to stamp her permit to operate a similar cart in the park. The rational given by then-Public Works fixture Tom McTygue was that Kahl’s operation could be the beginning of a long line of vendors looking to edge in on the action. He also noted that her cart offered a bit more than the standard dish of asses and lips, along with a menu of Italian ice.
So here starts the fervor. First, newly installed DPW Commissioner Skip Scirocco tells Miller he’s banished from the park because the citys ordinance simply doesn’t allow vendors to sell there, with or without a permit. Simply put, he’s right. While Miller could set up in a variety of public locations outside the so-called “central business district,” he’s simply not allowed to defile the tranquil beauty of Congress Park.
Automatically, the anti-McTygue contingent threw up its arms and blamed the whole debacle on the deposed commissioner, claiming a variety of conspiracy theories that allowed Miller, a self-admitted personal friend of McTygue, to set up shop in the park. The problem is, McTygue was one of three commissioners to sign off on Miller’s permit two years in a row. Among the others were McTygue’s ally in Accounts, John Franck; and McTygue’s enemy-by-association in Public Safety, Ron Kim.
So basically, all three commissioners either tacitly or physically signed off on Miller’s permit without bothering to check if it was actually legal. Former Mayor Valerie Keehn claimed she raised the subject with the council, but determined it was “a political fight not worth fighting,” according to the Saratogian. So instead, she simply convinced Kahl to sue to city. Now that’s good government at work.
Let’s pan to the present. Kahl is moving hotdogs outside the beer store on Excelsior Avenue, Miller is prepared for a season without customers and hungry pedestrians in Congress Park are wondering what in the asses and lips happened to their carousel-side franks. The strange part about everything is that the city recently revisited the vendors law, meaning that all involved parties should have had a cursory knowledge of the ordinance and could have revised it to incorporate a modest number of stands operating in the park.
Instead, the public has Citzen Scirocco claiming no permits will be issued for the park until a “fair solution” can be meted out in the halls of government. With May just a week away, it’s not likely to happen this summer. Any amendment to the ordinance would require at least one public hearing, which would need to be scheduled a month after city officials discussed the matter and developed a law. Given the glacial pace of city government, an amendment isn’t something that's likely over the next month, much less this summer.
All of this all could have been resolved years ago, had someone used an ounce of gray matter. But because the commissioners and their full-time deputies lack even a remote sense of the city’s skewed ordinances, the vendor issue is back on the table. the asses in City Hall can playing lip service to the press, and everyone else gets a heaping helping of ‘go fuck yourselves’ to take to the bank. Looking on the bright side, at least the reporters will have a new ‘issue’ to focus on instead of the ones that will truly wreck havoc on this city.