Mayor continues to ignore feedback

Mayor continues to ignore feedback
Mayor Dan Christopherson tried to defend his stubborn, wrongful stance on the Munchies malt beverage license renewal issue which had been brewing most of the summer, by reading a statement he received from the director of research and training of the South Dakota Muncipal League.

She wrote that state law allows the municipal governing boards discretion to decide whether the applicant is a suitable person and whether it considers the proposed location suitable.

"So what is a suitable location?" wrote the Municipal League director. "None of the cases cited in the annotated code book cite what a suitable location is; rather cases continually repeat. Such a determination is left to the discretion of the governing board.

"It is however, not necessarily a physical street location only. Suitable location has other things that go into it – many factors and many discretionary decisions."

The director stated that such decisions are an example of why public hearings are necessary. "Such a venue gives individuals of various opinions an opportunity to be heard and provides the governing board with a variety of opinions and backgrounds regarding the decision and therefore the knowledge necessary to make the discretionary decisions."

Christopherson concluded with his own assessment of the entire Munchies brouhaha.

"I'm going to stand on my original thing that the location is not just 6 West Main; it's the whole environment of the situation," he said. "I'm just very disappointed that after six weeks, you didn't work it out with the landlord," he told Ben Parsons, co-proprietor of the business. "I don't believe that you've given that the big effort. You've certainly cleaned up the garbage; I'll give you that."

Time and again, we can't help but wonder if the mayor lives in his own little world; a place where he can pick and choose what to accept and ignore at will.

The statement that he read above clearly demonstrates that he's chosen to ignore virtually every issue that supports the renewal of the malt beverage license at Munchies.

A court has ruled that Parsons and Cory Beach have a valid lease for the premises from Karen Muenster.

The public input received by the city council at hearings involving the license – "suitable location has other things that go into it – many factors and many discretionary decisions," which is an example of why public hearings are necessary – have overwhelmingly been in favor of Parsons and Beach.

That positive input has come from citizens' testimony, from detailed comments made by Alderman Mary Edelen who took time to closely investigate the Munchies issue, and in a letter to the editor published on our opinion page.

The only source of negative comments about this entire situation has been Muenster, the landlord. We're left wondering why she agreed to rent her building to Parsons and Beach in the first place.

The city council learned at one of its special meetings earlier this summer that according to Parsons and Beach, Muenster knew of their business plan before the lease – that they wanted to operate a restaurant in the space, with the sale of malt beverages making up approximately 20 percent of their total sales.

The mayor continually repeats that he's disappointed that the two tenants haven't worked things out with their landlord. In his opinion, they haven't made a concerted effort, even after he's been told by Parsons that their attempts to reach Muenster by phone have always been unsuccessful because she doesn't return their calls.

It's unfortunate that the mayor all but set up ground rules that call for Parsons and Beach to fail at their restaurant venture. The landlord in this case simply didn't have to do anything to secure a negative vote on the license renewal from Christopherson.

We already have too many vacant storefronts downtown. We would hope our mayor would encourage business to flourish along Main Street.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at

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