Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Proposed Tuscaloosa business ban would be a gross outreach for city

The Tuscaloosa City Council is currently considering a moratorium banning certain businesses from operating within the Tuscaloosa City limits. Among these business types are tattoo parlors, tobacco shops, check-cashing stores and pawn shops.

Inspired by the Northport City moratorium, banning the same types of businesses, the move is being justified as an opportunity to do “research” and discover the social side effects of these businesses.

This is a gross overreach on behalf of the Tuscaloosa government. This move to stifle certain businesses that the Tuscaloosa City Council deems troublesome really only stifles freedom: freedom of the marketplace, freedom to pursue the American dream of creating a business, and freedom of choice for the residents of Tuscaloosa. When the government starts trying to control what businesses are available to us, we lose a great amount of our personal freedom, something, as Americans, we hold as a high priority.

Tuscaloosa City Councilman Kip Tyner introduced the conversation in response to The Tattoo Experience’s plans to reopen in Alberta, Ala. To Tyner, The Tattoo Experience on the main road in Alberta is damaging to the city’s image, one that Tyner hopes to improve in the post-tornado rebuilding process.

But Todd Boiling, co-owner of The Tattoo Experience reminded City Council what the proposed moratorium would do for not only his business, but his livelihood. “I will go from being a survivor of the storm to a victim again,” he said, epitomizing the danger of the game Tuscaloosa is playing.

Some City council members are wary of the ban. Councilman Howard called the moratorium a “slippery slope,” asking the council, “You want to limit these things, but where does it end if you do that?” An excellent point; what will stop Tuscaloosa City from posing more bans on future businesses?

A voice of reason is found in councilwoman Cynthia Almond. Believing nothing will be accomplished by placing a moratorium, she is also seems most realistic about the “research” proposers are using to justify the bans.

“I don’t think studying them will tell us anymore than we already know,” Almond said.

And she’s right.

What do they really think research will accomplish? The hired consultant will be looking at crime rates, economic development and business recruitment among other factors. Obviously those in favor of the ban will be hiring the consultant, hoping the information discovered supports their thesis: tattoo parlors, pawnshops, etc. are bad for the community.

Any potential success depends first on how the consultant will gather this information. It must be a fair and unbiased project. But secondly, depending on the outcome, how will city council react? And will the findings actually sway opinions? If there is no significant sign of social upset surrounding the researched businesses, the city council can still choose to ban them. If the research supports their pre-conceived notions, they will only be more inclined to ban them.

But more than likely, they aren’t going to find enough proof to make a legitimate case for banning businesses. But what they will do, regardless of their choice, is injure the growing process because of the time they are wasting (like, right now) and they will injure their relationship with their constituents.

We elect leaders to make decisions to protect our rights, not take them away from us. Their intentions may be of good, but this is an abuse of power. The government is not the police in the debate on social stigmas, and we don’t need political leaders telling us the right and wrong answer to our personal choices.

I don’t know what Tuscaloosa City is truly trying to accomplish, but it doesn’t sound like the principles our nation was built on. And it definitely doesn’t sound like freedom, or democracy, to me.

SoRelle Wyckoff is the Opinions Editor of The Crimson White. Her column runs on Monday.

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