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New Bedford Bullies

Operating a hot dog cart is a dream business for many independent entrepreneurs all over this great nation. There are scores of stories of individuals who, for whatever reason, decide to make a living selling hot dogs from a small hot dog cart or trailer. One such entrepreneur is a guy I know through the hot dog boards; his name is Corey Hanks.

Corey recently opened up Fenway Sausage Works in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He complied with all local rules and ordinances, got his Servesafe Certificate, and was approved by the Board of Health. Corey set up this year at a private, commercial property on Acushnet Avenue, because the city's hawkers and peddlers ordinance states he is not allowed to be at a standing location or to park on public property, or within 100 feet from a public picnic area, park or playground.

Apparently a local business owner that is also the president of the area neighborhood association has made  Corey his pet project and brought his name up in his meeting that all the city councilors go to, as well as law enforcement. A few days after this meeting, Corey was approached by a cop letting him know his name came up in a meeting, and he wanted to see his permits. Corey showed him and he was satisfied.

3 days later A lieutenant came to the trailer and was disrespectful to Hanks. He basically let him know that he was sent by the president of the neighborhood association. He fought with Corey and said that he needed a city hawkers and peddlers license; Hanks told him that he didn't from what the department of standards told him specifically. The lieutenant was arguing that he needed a food handlers permit, and Hanks showed him his Servesafe and told him that they don't exist, and that the city doesn't have them anymore. The lieutenant was taunting him at every step, then finally furnished Hanks a memo that was given to the police department by the building department and the city solicitors office. This memo stated that if a vendor tried to set up on private property, the police were to kick Mr. Hanks out and that it was a zoning issue. After talking to the building commissioner, he told Mr. Hanks that if he planned to set up on private property, he needed a building permit, and if he tried to get one, he would reject it. He would reject it because Fenway Sausage Works would be considered a fast food establishment and the city zoning laws state that fast food establishments are required to have 25 dedicated parking spaces. Hanks was told that if he set up in the city again, he would be fined every day he tried.

About a week later, Mr. Hanks observed several mobile food establishments set up in Buttonwood Park- a PUBLIC park.

There are many things wrong with this scenario. First of all, the New Bedford police surely have better things to do than hassle small business people. If I were a taxpayer in this city, this would infuriate me, especially after reading the police blotter. New Bedford's police have a difficult job in a city that has it's fair share of crime; they do their best with what they have, but I don't think it is their business to bully small business persons on behalf of irate residents, whether they have political clout or not.

Secondly, Mr. Hanks went through all the proper channels. He was granted permits and given the green light all the way. Why would any political or administrative city office go after this budding entrepreneur? Was it at the bequest of the neighborhood association president? If it was, then there is something rotten in City Hall.

Thirdly, why the selective enforcement? If the city shut down Hanks' business, why are other vendors allowed to set up on PUBLIC property with impunity? Do you need to be friends with someone in City Hall to run a business in this community? If that is the case, then the City of New Bedford is going to be perceived as unfriendly to business. That's not a good policy in these economic times, not matter how big or small the business may be.

America was built on entrepreneurship. When government, whether it's local, state, or federal, makes it difficult for businesses to get started and attempt to thrive, it becomes counter productive. Perhaps the citizens of New Bedford and Massachusetts would prefer Mr. Hanks go on welfare instead of trying to earn an honest living? I don't think that is a message the city fathers want to send, particularly in a community that has suffered a huge loss of industry and jobs in recent years. Hanks publicly wondered why a mobile food vendor in New Bedford gets shut down faster than heroin dealers- it's a good question and one the citizens of New Bedford should be asking their local "leaders" and law enforcement personnel.

Mr. Hanks is circulating a petition and plans to fight city hall. Good for him! Lend your support HERE.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gee, it said city counciler wouldn't happen to have a newly opened "hot dog stand" RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO HIS OFFICE?Not owned by him but one never knows does one?

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