A beer-y protest
WORTHINGTON -- Beer may not be of major importance to everyone, but apparently it's a powerful motivator.
Just one day after the MillerCoors brewing company landed in the cross hairs of Minnesota's government shutdown, and the same day petitioners filed an exhibit listing all Minnesota liquor establishments that had expiring buyer's cards, Gov. Mark Dayton and the GOP legislative leaders announced they had reached a budget deal to end the two-week stalemate.
Coincidence? It's hard to say.
Worthington city officials made their own statement Thursday afternoon, stopping at Worthington Municipal Liquor Store to purchase MillerCoors products.
"We're bucking the law," joked Alderman Mike Woll.
Their message? Work together to get things done.
"They are obligated to stay on task and solve the problem," Alderman Scott Nelson said.
Even though the MillerCoors license had expired, products were still on the shelves. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety told the brewer it must stop distribution in Minnesota and devise a plan to pull its products from store shelves. More than 30 name-brand beers would have had to head back to the company.
"The state said it was just a matter of days before they enforced it," Mayor Alan Oberloh said.
The officials spoke of the ripple effect caused by the shutdown -- from major projects such as the Minnesota 60 construction, to the livelihood of people who make a living driving beer trucks.
"There's a housing partnership project that has been stopped because there are no state inspectors," explained City Administrator Craig Clark. "But the investors require occupancy, so they will have to pay a penalty for each day there are no occupants."
"There's a new house on the southwest part of town, and the owners can't move in because of licensing," Oberloh said. "That made me angry."
An airport project has also come to a halt because state regulators were needed.
"There's no one there to talk to," Clark said.
Thursday evening's agreement between Dayton and legislators resulted in Dayton's statement that the shutdown will be done "very soon, within days."
Over at the liquor store, the city officials said their beer-y protest was not intended to make a political statement.
"We just want to show that a shutdown is bad business. It's a ludicrous issue because of the way it was handled," Woll said. "It makes a mockery of us."