Lemonade: The Sequel


If you were with us last Friday, you will recall that the topic was the lemonade stand set up by two little girls in Overton, Texas for the purpose of raising money to buy their daddy a Father’s Day present.

Unlike the countless lemonade stands that set up shop in neighborhoods all over America every summer, this particular lemonade stand drew national attention – to the great consternation of the city elders of Overton.

As we reported, the two little girls in Overton were told that they needed a health permit and a peddler’s permit in order to sell their lemonade. The heaping of a regulatory burden intended for commercial businesses upon the backs of two small town little girls struck a chord, and there was a minor national uprising about it.

I spoke again with Overton Mayor C.R. Evans on Friday. There is good news that emerged from that conversation.

According to the mayor, had the girls not placed their lemonade stand in the street, the police officer who started all of this would have just driven by. But since they set themselves up in such a way as the officer judged to be dangerous, the officer got involved. From that involvement, the subject of regulatory compliance arose.

It is technically true that state law requires the issuance of a health permit in order to sell food. It is also true that there is no carve out in the law for the tiny enterprises of children.

But it is also true that common sense must play a role in the enforcement of any law. Making sure that the girls were situated in a way so as not to endanger themselves is perfectly appropriate. Holding a lemonade stand – an enterprise that will vanish as quickly as it appeared – to the same regulatory standard as a commercial business is perfectly ridiculous.

From what I gathered from Mayor Evans Friday, everyone involved now wishes that the subject of permits and regulatory compliance had never come up. Since this story arose, the City of Overton has been besieged by calls from the media and angry calls from ordinary Americans. The City of Overton knows this one could have been handled better, and has since bent over backwards to help those two little girls.

My conversation with Mayor Evans has me convinced that he’s a good man.

The bad news in all of this is that we have reached the point in America that a story such as this one is not only plausible but hardly surprising. In too many instances at every level of government in every corner of the country, the first instinct of regulators is to stifle enterprise.

The good news is, however, that we’re not yet ready to just take it lying down. There’s some fight left in us. There is a point at which we will rise up and protect our freedom.

The national attention that this story in Overton, Texas attracted is, in the end, a sign of health.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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4 Responses

  1. Happy to hear this story has a positive ending and thank you for covering it. But the deadening effect of over regulation remains and will grow worse, not better. Along the government dishonesty in such matters. The Overton officials used the “kids were set up in the street” as a dodge. I’ve seen the same “safety” ploy used in various ways here in Arlington, Texas, to block behavior officials prefer to go away, or if continuing, only after paying a kind of city blackmail. In the Overton lemonade case, if safety was the governing factor, the police office and city officials–assuming they are reasonably bright–would simply have asked the little lemonade sellers to move their stand to the safety of the sidewalk or yard.

  2. pk says:

    Ah yes, glad there is some fight in some of us & yet that would not be evidenced IF this story had not been in the Nat’l media.
    A temporary Band Aid, I’m afraid & certainly NOT a fix but an anecdotal story that will go silent immediately .

    “Tis true that this only illustrates how law enforcement is Selective..( if the Police/Health/ Administration/who-ever decides to “rattle their cage” ,they do!).

    I put sign for Music Lessons on our property but along the street. The Police or Sheriff stopped me” Dangerous”. Yet I have seen time & again all sorts of signs all over including” Work” signs in the identical places around here. What do I deduce? “They must’ve had a bad day or what?? But it IS selective enforcement!!!

    Obama has given us the large gift of starting to get us involved.
    I hope it never leaves.
    We certainly deserved what we got in a non-attentive President of Obama by laiseiz faire or ‘go along to get along’ election of this President.
    I hope we’ve learned our lesson!

  3. Michael Gauthier says:

    This story points out how unreasonable it is to hold everyone to the letter of the law in every case without applying discretion or intelligence. Although this one made it to national general awareness and was therefore adequately resolves, there are many thousands of cases, particularly in schools where “Zero Tolerance” has pushed discretion and intelligence into oblivion. The lack of tolerance, plain common sense, and good judgement are making life unnecessarily hard for many. It is time we support the use of of common sense more often.

  4. Linda E. Montrose says:

    When caught with their pants down, as always, a politician always pulls out the ole, it was someone else’s fault or the ole safety issue. Both of which are nothing but trying to save face. This country has gone too far left to ever revert back to common sense. Which is too bad.

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