A few years back, Gov. Brown signed a bill sponsored by Senator Lois Wolk allowing wine sales at Sonoma State University’s Green Center for the Performing Arts. For those not familiar with the Center, its website notes in part: “The crown jewel of the Green Music Center is undoubtedly Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall, considered one of the most acoustically superb concert venues in the world.”
Sanford Weill, Wall Street wizard and ex-chairman of Citigroup (“Sandy,” to local kiss-ups), donated big bucks to build that very fine hall.
Embarrassingly, however, the Center proved unable to sustain itself on ticket sales alone. (Who knew music would be so unpopular?) That Senator Wolk’s bill came to the Center’s rescue was undoubtedly pure coincidence.
The bill allowed wine makers and wholesalers to advertise at the Center, and permits the university to accept donations of alcohol to sell at fundraising events, which should also help remedy the shortage of inebriates on county roads and create a number of good-paying jobs in law enforcement, trauma centers and rehab spas.
But the real economic possibilities suggested by Wolk’s bill may have been neglected. Q: In a county where the economy floats on a sea of booze, why not allow wine sales in other venues struggling to make ends meet? Churches come to mind, and homeless shelters. Anyplace without a billionaire backer could certainly use the extra income.
Think what it could do for cash-strapped state and local government,
City and county budgets could be fattened and stabilized if officials could sell wine at all offices that serve the public. Paying taxes would certainly be more pleasant if the Collector could pour harried taxpayers a little snort.
The DMV could fill the till if wannabe motorists could knock back a few before taking that driving test. After all, the test is supposed to be realistic, and few things hereabouts are more real than DUI, which — need we say? — takes way more skill than driving sober.
Wine sales could buff school budgets and boost student test scores. Imagine how underpaid teachers with overpopulated classrooms would relax if they could grab a glass before lecturing on that most existential of Life’s questions: “If train A travels east at 60 mph, and train B . . .”
Wine could even make the Sheriff popular. Officer Involved Shootings might drop if, instead of responding with Glocks a-blazing, deputies could pour belligerents a quiet glass of merlot and run a tab en route to the slammer. Nothing says welcome like wine.
At high-profile trials, bailiffs could Pour-At-The-Door to help fund our cash-starved justice system. A summons to Jury duty could become a hot ticket if citizens could sip a few while pondering answers to questions posed by cunning lawyers attempting to weed out biased jurors (“M’am, do you feel you could impose the death penalty on someone who had just killed you?”).
We should all worry that our winery owners could be doomed to penury if sales are limited to the same few places: bars, hotels, restaurants, wineries, event centers, tasting rooms, fairgrounds, festivals, supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores, tour buses, farmers markets, school crossings, four-way intersections, etc.
At the very least, Senator Wolk’s bill could be a first step in alleviating the crushing burden of Income Inequality on the county’s fragile population of millionaires living lives in the shadows, just behind the curtain.