Kids' lemonade stand shuttered by police chief

The police chief of Midway, Georgia, has shut down a kids' lemonade stand because the girls (10 and 14) who were operating it didn't have $180 worth of permits. The proprietors were saving up for a visit to a water-park.
By a city ordinance, the girls must have a business license, peddler's permit, and food permit to set up shop, even on residential property. The permits cost $50 a day and a total of $180 per year. City officials said it's their job to keep everyone safe and healthy, and there can be no exceptions to the rules.

"We were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade, of what the lemonade was made with, so we acted accordingly by city ordinance," Chief Morningstar said.

Midway Police Shut Down Girls' Lemonade Stand for not having a Business License (via Consumerist)


    1. Also @chgoliz:

      Whats with the universalization? This is a strictly local problem with a strictly local solution, address the issue to the local legislative or deliberative body. In fact you can take action right now though: letters, email, or a phone call to the mayor’s office.

      It’s one thing to lambaste the Congress, a multi-national corporation or the FBI as deserving of nationwide attention, but this is a local problem hardly deserving of widespread attention.

      That is unless you feel that you as a non-resident deserve a say in how that locality operates. But to my understanding democracy isn’t something that is chopped up and packeted over the internet; its something that grows among, and gains sustinance from the people who live around the location where it is practiced.

      1. @ Goblin: Same argument used to perpetuate American apartheid back in the day. In Georgia. You a native?

    2. Now?!? Same thing happened to me in Live Oak, Florida some 40 years ago. A sheriff or police officer busting some kid’s lemonade stand is nothing new.

  1. Authorities have also insisted that any person who may or may not have to, at any time, perform First Aid upon someone must also carry malpractice insurance and have the proper paperwork necessary as required by health insurance regulations.

  2. Well, it’s a thankless gig, enforcing the law. Either you do what this chief did and know that you’re going to be lambasted as a liberty-killing, kid-hating, tax-wasting, unAmerican grinch, or you enforce the law selectively and hope nobody gets actionably sick or dead from consumption of uncontrolled foodstuffs from unlicensed, untrained, but hopefully well-meaning kids.

    I don’t want his job. I’d have made the opposite choice and with my luck probably opened my department up to liability for a citywide salmonella outbreak or something.

  3. It’s their own fault; if they’d incorporated, they’d have had rights. Instead, they’ve got 3 strikes against them:

    – human, not corporate;
    – children, not voters;
    – too poor to afford anything without working.

  4. I’m pretty sure that if you buy lemonade from a couple of kids on the street, you don’t expect any kind of protection through regulatory oversight.

  5. If I were the parent of those kids, they’d be operating a donut stand the next morning.

  6. Uncontrolled foodstuffs from unlicensed but well-meaning people may be unsafe? Damn, I’ll stop cooking right now and let sweetie pie get his own food. He can buy everything from a nice licensed, county inspected restaurant.

    Wait, can I cook for myself? And if I got pregnant, could I cook for the two of us? (Latter seems doubtful.)

    It’d be easier if the the government just distributed food pills. Then we’d all be safe.

  7. Did anybody actually read the article? My 4 year old who can only spell about 10 words writes better than that.

    I think these three tweens could make all the money they need in a day just copy editing for the paper that “reported” this.

    1. I actually used to work there. The paper is run on a shoestring… editing consisted of a light proofreading for typos and chopping the copy to fit whatever was left of the newshole. We were putting out 3 papers a week with a staff you could count on one hand, without using every finger. Seriously. And if Midway has a police dept. now, it can’t be much bigger.

      Anyway, I don’t want to make too many excuses for the current staff- but while it could have been better written, I didn’t see anything worse than a rookie reporter reaching a little too far for a style that’s better left to columnists.

      Lots of copy gets written fast, on a deadline, at newspapers all over the country. A lot of times the only thing standing between those stories and illegibility is a decent copy desk – and small-town southern newspapers just don’t have those.

    1. Slowly? Heard of no-knock warrants? Sneak & Peek warrants, Popo breaking in with no warrant and it’s ruled ok in a case. Tasers, the end of the 4th Amendment, First and Fifth Amendment under pressure. Cops abusing people, killing innocent people and trumping up false charges that stick and work. There is no slow about it. We’re there.

  8. The next time some conservajerk goes on about how business-friendly the red states are, I’ll cite this.

  9. Lucky them for not getting a fine or jail time. What are parent teaching kids today! /§

  10. Fucking ridiculous. Common sense is no longer common. Any officer enforcing this is a douche bag.

  11. I’m disappointed in you Boingers, are you all on vacation?

    @Chief Morningstar: Christ, what an asshole.

  12. How do we start an max $0.50 donation account so we can get these girls to the waterpark? (And stick it the man whilst we’re at it!?). Someone e-mail me some tips!?

  13. The little-girls-running-an-illicit-lemonade-stand terror plot… FOILED! America is safe once again.

  14. Police generally have some discretion…

    This is a case where they should have used it to not be assholes.

  15. “We were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade, of what the lemonade was made with…”

    Lemme see… could it be crack cocaine? rat poison? dog shit? Or mayyybeeee, LEMONADE MIX AND WATER???

    “… so we acted accordingly by city ordinance”

    Beauracracy run amok.

    If this is the only possible response by the city leaders/law enforcement regarding a couple of children selling lemonade on the sidewalk in the good ol’ USA (permits?? REALLY???), then the “terrists” have truly won.

  16. having been a former resident of Midway, GA. I am surprised the cops actually got out of their car. cant keep a “Park and ride” carpool lot safe from thieves but you can harass little girls. seems about right.

  17. If the police were willing to do the job that each and every one of them volunteered to do, I’d respect them. As it stands, knocking over some kid’s lemonade stand is not behavior I view as acceptable from enforcement officers. Why don’t they go knock over a meth lab, a car thievery ring, smugglers or a hundred other types of societal parasite? WHY NOT DO THE JOB THEY SAID THEY WOULD DO?!

    God, I hate cops, these days. I really tried for a long time to like them, but they’re just so damn useless. They’re a burden on the taxpayers.

  18. The police chief is completely full of, well, not lemonade. Police officers selectively enforce the law every single day. They choose to ignore some laws in favor of others. They give some people tickets and other people warnings for the same offense. They pay snitches, who they try to keep from going to jail for the very same offenses that they’re trying to catch other people in the act of doing (with the help of the snitch, of course). A police officer’s job is to exercise discretion, and the dolt of a police chief didn’t exercise his brains in determining that this is a no-win situation when all he needed to do was let this lemon go.

  19. Sounds like it took too long, where is the SWAT team when you need them?

    As everyone’s said police have a tough time, but a bit of leeway guys.

    Until common sense becomes a law we’re going have problems like these. Everyone seems to be scared of getting sued or in trouble for not enforcing over reaching regulations.

    Maybe we can do something at the UN at sort out a new human right: The universal right not to get in legal shit because someone lacks common sense.

    Yeah I know that everyone has different views on what is common sense so we could start with: hot things burn you, sharp things cut you, icy places are slippery, and little kids selling lemonade should be left in peace to sell it.

  20. This sort of thing has happened in Austin as well, and is part of what led to the passage of SB 81, the home baker’s bill, yet that still doesn’t protect school/church/etc. bake sales. Now they’re just not illegal under Texas law, but subject to county regulations.

    The problem is as soon as someone reports it, the police are forced to uphold the law. I’m sure it sucks for them too. What’s needed are comprehensive cottage food laws in each state that provide clear exemptions for this sort of thing so everyone can stop wasting time, dollars, and tears busting little kids, schools, churches, etc. from engaging in small fundraising commerce.

    1. It wasn’t shut down because someone reported it. According to TFA:

      “The girls had only been opened for one day before Midway’s police chief and another officer cruised by and saw the stand.”

      So it was purely on their own. Fine detective work there, Chief.

  21. If three or four people got sick from drinking bad lemonade, would there be a public outcry and a suit against the parents and the city? In my view of today’s environment, there is a pretty decent chance that the answer, sadly, would be “yes”.

    Risk and freedom are two sides of the same coin. It is difficult to increase one without increasing the other. Thus, we, as a society, need to decide which balance to strike between the two. Right now, we are so crazily risk averse (and so motivated to pass off responsibility to someone else at first opportunity) that we get the daft, nannying ordinances we deserve.

    It’s not government that’s broken – it’s society. Government is just a reflection.

  22. Chief Morningstar, eh? Another name for Lucifer (apologies to anyone else named Morningstar, BTW; fitting in this case).

  23. What a fantastic way to improve the image of community-police relations.

    Apparently the police in this city have nothing better to do, and the idea of authority has really gone to their collective head. What a prick.

  24. We certainly need to protect the idiots out there by taking away a simple choice about whether or not to trust youth to prepare lemonade. We need these bored authoritarian brutes to make sure nobody does something they might regret, like buy questionable lemonade on the side of the road. We must be free from the slight possibility that we might do something dumb and hurt ourselves. We need… yeah I can’t do this anymore. Seriously though…

    From my perspective I would not have purchased the beverages but would have simply made a donation to reward these girls for their resourcefulness and willingness to do something to fulfill their dream of going to the water park. Too many kids these days would just beg and whine until mom or dad caved, or even just not tried or cared in the first place. And it really sucks that the lesson they have learned is that no matter what your dreams or how hard you try there will always be some dick-head with the power or inclination or both to put a boot on your neck just to show that they can.

  25. If the police are so lacking in more serious crimes to investigate, then perhaps some budget cuts are in order?

  26. Isn’t it amazing that if you’re a major corporation you can get away with just about anything even selling food tainted with anti-freeze and never have a thing done to you. But if you’re a couple kids selling some homemade lemonade then your local asshole police chief will shut you down in a heartbeat to “protect the public.”

    Folks, this is where we’re at as a nation. This happens all across the USA. Here in Arizona this is a common occurrence. There are even laws forbidding people serving coffee to freezing homeless people in winter for their “safety!” Meanwhile, major corporations pollute the environment, sell tainted food, and engage in every unsavory practice (including tax evasion) with no fear of reprisal because they have purchased every official from Congress down to this local police chief (yes, you can bet he’s elected). All the while the various “Chambers of Commerce” continue to spin the mythology of freedom of trade and the “American Dream” to a gullible public who cries out for less and less corporate oversight while allowing more and more laws designed to oppress the individual or small business.

    This is America in 2011. If you’re rich and incorporated you can get away with murder. If you’re a couple of kids selling lemonade in your yard you face prosecution and persecution from a corporate owned police force. I’m sure the folks at Minute Maid and Sunny D are happy this competition has been run out of town! Good job, Chief Morningstar, you’ve earned your contribution today!

  27. Wasn’t there a norovirus outbreak in 2007 traced back to a lemonade stand run by a bunch of cheerleaders? My Google-fu is only turning up a defunct link to a factsheet put out by a law firm. The CDC did identify a more aggressive strain showing up in 2007

    I can see the logic behind making sure that publicly-sold goods are prepared safely and don’t spread diseases. I can also see a cash-strapped municipality grasping for any and all revenue sources.

  28. It appears that the easy fix would be to roll the definition of a lemonade stand into the same framework that defines a garage sale.

    Part of the requirements for this exemption could include requirements that the lemonade is sold prepackaged in bottles or cans. (Sodium Benzoate –> Benzine due to heat/sun exposure can be shifted to the liability of the soft drink manufactures, but that is a topic for another day.)

    If the lemonade stand is in business more than x days/year, then require the commercial permits.

    (Tip to the kids, a car wash can raise more money than a lemonade stand.)

  29. > it’s their job to keep everyone safe and healthy

    So they’re cancelling Halloween this year, right?

    Can’t have all that food of unknown origin being handed out without permits.

  30. I was a bit surprised to encounter a lemonade stand last summer, not having seen one in a very long time. I got a cup of the stuff, and watched the kid pour the brightest, fakest yellow ‘drink’ out of the cheapest looking grocery-store gallon jug imaginable. I jokingly questioned the kid about it, ‘you’re supposed to make the lemonade,’ type jab… Kid says ‘we’re the distributors!’ very proud. Anyway the stuff tasted awful, like pure HFCS, but it made a kid happy. I’d hate to see that go away.

  31. These girls…
    they won’t quit….
    They won’t stop…

    And when they grow up?

    1-8-7 on a motherfuckin’ cop!

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