Saturday, November 03, 2007
Freedom Riders Demand Equal Rights for Drink Prices
For 22-year-old Meyran Avenue resident James "Stony" Carmine, there are few injustices which will get him out of bed earlier than one on a weekday.
Last Friday, Carmine made a rare exception to protest what he believes to be one of the gravest injustices to face our region since the Pittsburgh Penguins threatened to leave town last winter. Carmine joined approximately 50 other Oakland residents who boarded Port Authority funded buses to join other protesters gathered on a seasonably normal October afternoon in Market Square.
"For me it just came down to a question of doing what's right," Carmine declared. "Could I just sit by and watch as a moderate increase on drink prices was forced down my throat? Well I probably would if it was forced down by a hot bartender with a pair of banging titties, or if that price increase was coupled with proportionally larger drink sizes, but if the drink sizes stayed the same, or if it was just an average or below average bartender pouring, then hell no, I won't pay. Well, I probably would pay because I really enjoy beer, but I guess I'm here to take a stand and let people know, I'd rather not if I have anything to say about it. Do I? Can I vote somewhere for things like this? Is there a process to do this?"
Oakland residents like Carmine represent a growing local movement with college students to get involved in politics. Veterans to the protesting scene such as South Bouquet Street resident Ryan Smith have come to see it as their mission to get involved in influencing city politics. Though statistics show that Oakland residents like Smith probably will not end up staying in Pittsburgh after they graduate, he still believes it is important to get involved.
"I first became aware of this whole protesting thing last spring when some dude at the bar was telling me that if that faggot-ass Mayor got his way, we wouldn't be allowed to smoke in bars no more," recalled Smith. "I thought dude was supposed to be all young and hip, so how could he let this happen to us? I got sorta pissed and signed a petition. I guess my signature worked, because no one's told me I can't smoke no more at Peter's. So now it starts again, but this time I decided to do more. I decided to use my Pitt ID to ride for free down to Market Square and hold a sign."
Local students such as Smith and Carmine were joined by Oakland bar owners who were likewise concerned that a drink tax would cripple the fluxuating Oakland drink market. Edward Lewis, General Manager of Boomerang's on Forbes Avenue, citied the potential trickle down effects of the tax on struggling college students.
"Thursday nights we got that twenty cent draft night. I'm worried that if Onorato has his way the tax will leave me no choice but to raise prices back up to twenty five cents. Believe me, it's not what I want to do, or a decision I take lightly. I don't want to shortchange a hardworking poor college student who only has a few dollars left after shelling out his parents’ hard-earned money on the newest Razr cell phone, but this tax might leave me no choice. It'll be a sad day in Oakland when one of our patrons can only get four drinks instead of five for a dollar," warned Lewis.