Our Clayton-based reporter, Amanda James, discovered recently that three Internet sweepstakes parlors remain open there despite a court ruling that essentially banned them. (They’re operating in other Johnston County towns, too, including Smithfield.)
What surprised us most in Clayton was that no one in a position to challenge the parlors seemed interested in doing so.
Not the state’s Alcohol Law Enforcement agency, or the Attorney General’s Office, or the Johnston County District Attorney’s Office, or the Clayton Police Department or the Clayton Town Council.
At least the ALE was honest; it said it had better things to do than chase down sweepstakes parlors. The Attorney General’s Office put the burden on local law enforcement, which in Clayton is awaiting guidance from the ALE, which, apparently, has no interest in issuing such guidance.
In the spring, Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said she would prosecute any sweepstakes parlors that remained open in defiance of the court ruling. Six months later, sweepstakes parlors remain open in Johnston in defiance of the court ruling.
In town hall, Town Manager Steve Biggs called for more dialogue among local enforcement, ALE and the Attorney General’s Office. Councilman Michael Grannis sounded somewhat like former President Bill Clinton, who famously wondered what the definition of “is” is. Specifically, Mr. Grannis wondered aloud whether Clayton’s sweepstakes parlors as currently constituted were in violation of a court ruling that said they were unconstitutional.
All of this ambivalence is just as well, because a state that is in the gambling business shouldn’t be telling private enterprises that they can’t engage in gambling. That is hypocritical.
We understand why state lawmakers and bureaucrats are no fans of sweepstakes parlors. People who play parlor games are less likely to play the state’s many lottery games, and the state needs poor people to play the lottery; otherwise, it will have to tax the rich, and no self-preserving politician wants to do that. Towns and cities like sweepstakes parlors because they pay relatively exorbitant taxes.
So let’s tax sweepstakes parlors exorbitantly and let them be. The alternative is to have elected leaders and bureaucrats explain, unconvincingly, why they’re choosing not to enforce North Carolina law.
Silliness in the capital city
It’s comforting to know that big cities can be silly too.
Last Sunday, word spread quickly by social media that Raleigh police had stopped charitable groups from feeding the homeless because they did not have permits to do so.
Critics of the decision say Raleigh wants its homeless population to go away because it wants to be home only to hip, affluent people. Toward that end, its police are discouraging charitable groups from encouraging the homeless to congregate in Raleigh’s public squares. Honestly, what city can be cool if homeless people are soiling its attractive public spaces?
The paragraph above is reason enough to call Raleigh to the carpet on its pretentiousness. But what we found particularly incredulous was the response of Raleigh’s mayor and a council member. The two said they had nothing to do with the police cracking down on groups that serve the homeless. We wonder then why the Raleigh City Council passed the law that says groups must have a permit to distribute food in city parks.
If we’re hearing the mayor and councilwoman correctly, they played no part – and want no part – in enforcing a law the city council enacted. That sounds a lot like the Democrats who are now running away from Obamacare, which of course they enacted.
The mayor and councilwoman said they would move quickly to resolve the conflict between Raleigh city law and the need to feed the homeless. That should be easy enough; take the law off the books; don’t punish charities for doing good deeds.
Like Raleigh leaders, we want poverty and homelessness to disappear. But banishing the homeless to the shadows won’t solve the problem, though it might make the affluent less uncomfortable.
We thought the same when Johnston’s County Commissioners voted to require panhandlers to obtain permits before begging for money.
Truth in advertising
We would never make fun of the Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce; it is the most progressive organization in central Johnston County. But we had to chuckle when we read the promo for the chamber’s latest morning social. The networking event was held this past Thursday at Adam & Eve, the sex toy store off of South Equity Drive. The chamber calls its morning social the Eye Opener. We’re sure it was.
Advice for drivers
We want our children to be safe, and we want adults to practice what they preach. So at the start of another school year, we pass along this piece of advice from a sign at a church: “Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet him.”