Business/Economy, Civil Liberties, Denver, Lone Tree, Politics

Government scolds shouldn't pick economic winners and losers

On a discrimination scale of one to ten, the Denver City Council Business Development Committee rates a whopping 10+.

I watched with astonishment the “pause” in considering a Chick-fil-A lease at Denver International Airport. Apparently several Council members did not like what a Chick-fil-A individual thinks and like school yard bullies, used their power to smack Chick-fil-A with their definition of correct thinking. What if a different contingency held sway over the Denver City Council and advocated against a business whose owner supports pro-LGBTQ causes, pausing its approval?

These same members of Council, who questioned Chick-fil-A, would likely be outraged.

icon_op_edDespite Chick-fil-A’s affirmation that it has always operated as an equal opportunity employer and is committed to nondiscriminatory practices, Denver City Council’s first openly gay member, Robin, Kneich, questioned approval of a Chick-fil-A lease at Denver International Airport, expressing concern that the company used “corporate profits to fund and fuel discrimination.” What could be more discriminatory than officials pausing or withholding approvals because of diversity of thought?

Councilman Paul Lopez called opposition to the chain at DIA “really, truly a moral issue on the city.” As citizens, we must ask, “Since when are government officials supposed to be the moral police?”

This was really about potentially taking away personal choice. Neil Maxfield, the senior vice president of concession at DIA, noted a 2013 survey of airport users “identified Chick-fil-A as being the second-most-sought-after quick service brand at the airport, second to Chipotle,” which didn’t apply for the space.  New council member Jolan Clark stated, “We can do better than this brand in Denver at our airport, in my estimation.”

Apparently Denver city council members missed the memo that elected officials are to remain impartial when making decisions. Elected officials are not supposed to pick winners and losers. Individuals, choosing where they spend their hard-earned dollars, will vote with their feet. That’s how the free market works.

As a member of Lone Tree City Council I recently witnessed discriminatory responses from fellow council members over awarding a liquor license to a new Hooters restaurant in Lone Tree. Even though I had never been to a Hooters restaurant, I stood in support of their right to invest their capital, take risks and compete for customers. I was astonished that fellow members raised questions about the waitress dress code (not much different from the Denver Bronco cheerleaders).  One council member even urged the company to change their name.

Ultimately, the Hooters’ liquor license was approved and the Denver City Council recently approved Chick-fil-A’s lease at DIA.

I am deeply concerned when elected officials let personal preferences affect their decision making. No matter your side of the aisle, color of skin or sexual preferences, you should be concerned too.  Hooters yesterday, Chick-fil-A today and who knows which business government will pick on tomorrow. It might be yours.

Contact the Denver City Councilmembers, thank them for the approval of Chick-fil-A’s lease, let them know you care about the right of individuals to choose which businesses to patronize and care that legitimate businesses have the opportunity to freely compete for customers.

Kim Monson is a Lone Tree City Council member.

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