Talking To Rocks and Starlight For Stogies

Posted by Mike Michalski on Thursday, January 23rd, 2020.

You cannot reason someone out of something he or she was not reasoned into.
 - Jonathan Swift

So the Manhattan Beach City Council, pursuant to a 4-1 vote at its December 17 meeting, is set to ban all tobacco sales in the city, effective January 1, 2021, which aligns with a similar tobacco ban in Beverly Hills.

We've argued elsewhere on this blog that a city-wide ban on tobacco sales will not have a material effect on smoking here in Manhattan Beach when tobacco products are readily available in surrounding communities.  In fact, the level of smoking by Manhattan Beach residents is already well below state and national averages, according to expert testimony at the December 17 Council meeting, in a state that ranks 2nd only to Utah in terms of lowest per capita use of tobacco.

Now we're not big fans of tobacco but the true impact of a tobacco ban will be to prevent local retailers, including some of our hardworking mom-and-pop store owners, from selling cigarettes mostly to tourists and out-of-towners (who invariably purchase other items as well).  Again, this will end up hurting our own retailers while driving this business (and the corresponding sales tax revenue and licensing fees that these sales generate for the city) into adjacent communities.

On top of which, there's a good chance that, due to Council's action, one retailer - Feraz Adamo, the owner of Manhattan Beach Smoke Shop - will lose his entire, tobacco-centric business. 

Poof!  An economic interest he's worked hard to build up over many years gone in an instant at the end of this year.

Naturally, he's already threatening litigation where he'll likely assert, among other arguments, that the City's tobacco ban constitutes an unlawful "taking" of his entire business which, under the 5th Amendment to the Constitution, requires "just compensation." 

Whether or not he's successful, the point is that all of these costs or potential costs (lost sales tax revenue, lost licensing fees, additional litigation costs and possible compensation to affected businesses) cumulatively add up to another hit to city revenues, just so 4 of the 5 Councilmembers can engage in ego-boosting grandstanding. 

It's also not lost on us that 3 of those 4 (Nancy Hersman, Steve Napolitano, pictured below, and Richard Montgomery) are at the end of their 4-year terms so you can bet the tobacco ban will be used to pad their resumes ("I stood up to Big Tobacco") as they seek reelection this year.One had to feel sorry for the retailers themselves, like the Kim family (owners of the downtown Manhattan Grocery) who, in attending the meeting, were forced to see our sanctimonious solons stripping away one of their sources of income while also enduring commentary from Councilmember Napolitano who, in defending a ban on tobacco sales, droned on about how dangerous tobacco products are. 

Wow, alert the media!! 

Gee, Steve, what tipped you off?  The warning labels on every tobacco product sold perhaps? 

But for pure hubris, you gotta love Mayor Hersman who said she favors a ban that starts at the same time as the Beverly Hills ban because, as she put it, "I think that makes a statement."  Can you imagine the consternation in the boardroom of Phillip Morris knowing that they're now on Nancy's bad side?

So where did our local retailers go wrong? 

Simple, they appealed to the Council using reason and logic, which is akin to talking to a bed of rocks and about as productive.  That's why this post's lead quote from the noted late satirist Jonathan Swift is so on point.

We here at Real Estate Edge feel that part of the blame for this fiasco lies with the retailers themselves for not playing the game right.  Many are legal immigrants or the children of legal immigrants.  But whether you are a hard-working legal immigrant or an equally hard-working legal natural-born citizen, you are not part of any group favored by the woke left's identity politics.

Now illegal aliens are another matter.  Who recalls our resident woke Councilmembers Hersman and Hildy Stern using their non-partisan council positions to push a waiver of the city's special events permit fee for a purely partisan political rally (organized by Hildy Stern and others) to protest the illegal alien detention camps along the southern border (a real concern to the business of Manhattan Beach, to be sure)? 

We sure recall; in fact, we blogged about it in our post Well, Isn't That Special Treatment?  Not Anymore.  The candlelight event, which was held on the pier over the summer, was called "Lights for Liberty", pictured below.   So there's the key.  With apologies to Jonathan Swift's most famous satire, our "modest proposal" would be for our local tobacco retailers to simply renounce their US citizenship or legal resident status and henceforth proclaim themselves illegal aliens.

With their new status as aggrieved victims, not only would our newly-declared illegal alien tobacco retailers be entitled to plenty of free benefits from the state, they could now count on both Hersman and Stern to back a rally in their support.  And you can bet that rally wouldn't require a special events permit from Parks & Rec.

All that's needed is a catchy name for a candlelit gathering on the pier with the alliterative appeal of "Lights for Liberty." 

Hmmm. "Light Up for Liberty"?  No, too derivative.

"Candles for Cancer Sticks."  No, too dark.

"Brightness for Butts."  No, confusing message.

Here's our best suggestion - "Starlight for Stogies."

No need to thank us.  However, we'd like to think that Jonathan Swift would approve of our version of a modest proposal. 




This entry was posted under Manhattan Beach, and Smell The Coffee.