Remember Doug Wilkey, the grumpy Floridian who tried to get a lemonade stand that was operating next door to his house shut down by local authorites? Whelp, looks like he's getting a taste of his own medicine.
A tipster contacted the city and pointed officials toward records that show Wilkey, as recently as March, listed his Patricia Avenue home as the principal business address for Bayport Financial Services.
Planning director Greg Rice said officials were drafting a letter notifying Wilkey, 61, that all companies operating in the city require a business tax license, which costs about $45 a year, and that home-based-business owners must sign an affidavit agreeing to follow special rules.
It's tempting to say "Karma's a bitch, sucka!" and leave it at that.
But that's the wrong response.
Yes, Wilkey, 61, started it by trying to bring in the government where simple human-to-human interaction should have sufficed. But is is just as troubling that the local government has now decided to use its powers to harass this man, simply because he's kind of a jerk with unpopular opinions.
Crotchety old men aren't as photogenic as entrepreneurial kids, but they deserve the same rights and protections. All the reasons why Guerrero deserves to be left alone to make an honest buck apply equally to Wilkey. In fact, running a financial services company out of your home likely has even fewer negative externalities than setting up a lemonade stand.
It seems pretty clear the city is looking into this guy's business because he managed to draw attention to himself in a negative way. And of course the hypocrisy here is as delicious as a glass of Country Time on a hot day.
But I guarantee you that there are other home-based businesses on that block. In a time and place where nearly every human action is smothered in laws, rules, and regulations, enforcement will necessarily be arbitrary. Limited resources mean that cops and licensing bureaus get to choose who they go after, and those choices will usually be made for reasons that have little to do with efficiency or justice.
When I wrote about the lemonade stand, I gave the local Dunedin authorities "three cheers." I take them back. When a grumpy tipster complained about a commercial activity by a cute kid who wasn't hurting anyone, they looked into the matter and wisely chose inaction. Then the same situation presented itself with a less appealing protagonist, and they did the opposite. Zero cheers.