I love the Vending Oversight Committee. Not only does Sconz reader Mike Verveer a member of the body, but so is Ald. Thuy Pham-Rammele. Ald. Thuy (pronounced Twee), as she prefers to be called, is the most bizarre member of the Council, at least publicly. She hates the mayor and he hates her, which is why she only sits on one measly committee. When she's not delivering half-hour tirades against bike paths, she can be counted on for a good ol' interrogation of city witnesses drinking habits. She brings controversy to uncontroversial subjects.
Which is why I would have definitely gone to the meeting today if I hadn't been busy. The committee is scheduled to grant a number of permits for public events taking place over the summer.
"Cars on State" (May 8)
"Cows on the Concourse (June 5)
"Ride the Drive" (June 6)
These are just the earliest events. There's pages of things going on in June and July that you can see here. What is interesting, in terms of city government, is the manner in which the permits are granted. First, the "permits" are essentially just exemptions. Usually you can't walk a cow around the Capitol (I think), so by creating a 24 hour exemption to existing Vending regulations, one can then do that.
Practically every exemption is accompanied by an authorization for a specific group to choose what vendors, entertainment etc. will participate. For instance, in approving an exemption for the USA Cycling Collegiate Nationals, which is apparently taking place here, the Council will also authorize Team Sports Inc. to select the vendors in the designated areas. In other cases it might be a public entity, such as the city Parks Division, or the Fire Department.
It's an interesting look at the day-to-day cooperation between city government and the private sector. But I think some events would be a good opportunity to open the vending floodgates a little more. Sure, the dairy people don't want to sponsor an event if their vendors aren't front and center, but some of these events might be a little more dynamic if additional vendors could apply for authorization from the city. At any large gathering, whether it be for cycling or auto fetishes, people are going to appreciate convenient food and drink.