Active Rain November 16, 2010

Cookies, Brownies and Intrigue in Chappaqua

I read the events in the local paper and my jaw keeps dropping. 

Two 13 year old boys in Chappaqua had their bake sale stand shut down for not having a permit. The police officers who had to stop the little venture were very polite, but the parents were incensed, and eventually the local paper filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to find the complainant and it was actually a town councilman. 


The councilman, Michael Wolfensohn, said he called the cops because he essentially didn’t feel he could handle the situation himself. The press the case has now attracted has yielded the local politician some rather unwelcome attention, and he has admitted that he could have done things better in hindsight. The story has gotten legs, and he has gotten angry and threatening calls and emails. Sad. 

“In hindsight, maybe I should have done that <approach them himself-JPF>, but I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to do that,” he said. “The police are trained to deal with these sorts of issues.”

For me, the moral of the story is that engaging in commerce in this modern age, especially in New York, is not easy. There is always someone around the corner ready to take you down, invoking some arcane minutiae of the law or perceived shortcoming. In the case of these two young men, an innocent effort was scuttled and I hope they do not lose heart. 

I think the councilman has regrets too, but frankly, if he were in my town I’d vote him out. I don’t have faith in the judgment of a person who feels the police are the best way to handle two 13-year olds selling cookies and brownies. We don’t need the blind leading the blind around here. 

If it is this hard to sell brownies in this environment, imagine the challenges facing those selling homes.