City Councilman Calls Cops on Kids Selling Cupcakes

Monday, November 15th, 2010

What a dick.

A politician in a New York suburb called police on two 13-year-old boys for selling cupcakes and other baked goods without a permit, according to a report Monday.

The Journal News in Westchester County said the boys, Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff, had a brisk business selling cupcakes, cookies, brownies and Rice Krispie treats for $1 each in a Chappaqua park.

However, New Castle Councilman Michael Wolfensohn called the police after discovering the sale was not for charity, the newspaper said.

Kevin’s mother, Laura Graff, said the teens were “good kids” who were scared by the police call.

“I am shocked and sad for the boys. It was such a great idea, and they worked hard at it,” Laura Graff, Kevin’s mother, told The Journal News. “But then some Town Board member decided to get on his high horse and wreck their dreams.”…

“All vendors selling on town property have to have a license, whether it’s boys selling baked goods or a hot dog vendor,” Wolfensohn said.

He said “in hindsight” he perhaps should have told the boys they needed a license rather than calling the cops. “The police are trained to deal with these sorts of issues,” he told The Journal News.

A permit to sell things in the park costs $150 to $350 for two hours and a $1 million insurance certificate is also required, the paper said…

Andrew DeMarchis told The Journal News of his disappointment.

“We were being entrepreneurs,” he said, “but now I feel a little defeated.”

I think I’ve changed my mind about these stories. If the point of having your kid start a lemonade stand, cupcake stand, or some other little venture is for him to learn what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, he might as well learn early on that part of being an entrepreneur is dealing with asshole politicians, petty bureaucrats, and rivals willing to use the law to shut you down rather than compete with you. It also means understanding that the costs of complying with all the bullshit hurdles the government puts in the way of starting up a business may mean you can never get your business off the ground, no matter how good your idea.

The cupcake kids will at least now grow up with a healthy distaste for politicians, and probably some newfound respect for the people who do actually manage to start a business in hostile environments that include requirements for million-dollar insurance policies and political slime like Michael Wolfensohn.

And that’s actually a pretty valuable lesson.

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31 Responses to “City Councilman Calls Cops on Kids Selling Cupcakes”

  1. #1 |  Mark R. | 

    I’d say that nothing has made me more sympathetic to libertarian arguments than trying to start my own business.

  2. #2 |  Dante | 

    So, let’s review:

    Exposing a covert CIA agent? No violation of law found.

    Warrentless Wiretaps? No violation of law found.

    Countless deaths & injuries caused by wrong-door drug raids? No violation of law found.

    Prosecutor misconduct which puts innocent people in jail for life? No violation of law found.

    Lies, bribes, dirty tricks all occuring daily in Congress? No violation of law found.

    TSA workers keeping x-ray images of body scans despite swearing that they don’t? No violation of law found.

    Selling cookies with a license? CRUSH THEM LAW-BREAKERS!!! NO MERCY!!!! SHOOT THE DOGS, TOO!!!

    Seriously, America has become a Police State. Only people who don’t work for the government are subject to the law.

  3. #3 |  Dante | 

    Sorry, should be “without a license”.

  4. #4 |  Marty | 

    well said, Mark.

    I shared my thoughts with him at http://www.newcastle-ny.org/index.php?option=com_contact&view=contact&id=11%3Amichael-wolfensohn&catid=16%3Adepartments&Itemid=84

  5. #5 |  pam | 

    catchy opening, the rest of it sucked.

  6. #6 |  Robert Volk | 

    How great is it that this happens shortly after Reason posted that business video. And by great, I of course mean sucks monkey balls.

  7. #7 |  Matthew | 

    I emailed that cocksucker, too.

  8. #8 |  Waste93 | 

    Working in law enforcement I can tell you that the worse calls we get are frequently are from council members. They like to throw their weight around and command staff frequently caves to their demands because they are politicians that control the budget.

  9. #9 |  Matt | 

    I would have thought the worst calls you get are those from, you know, people being murdered or raped. You must have a really unpleasant city council! :-)

  10. #10 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    If there’s any silver lining to this story, it’s that this douchenozzle’s political career has most likely been nipped in the bud.

  11. #11 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    He said “in hindsight” he perhaps should have told the boys they needed a license rather than calling the cops. “The police are trained to deal with these sorts of issues,” he told The Journal News.

    No, you called the cops because you are a coward and you when you get the urge to push people around you are too cowardly to do it yourself, so you call the police.

    #9 Matt: I don’t know if Waste93 literally meant that those calls are the absolute worst. He probably meant the most irritating. Being familiar with policing, I have heard about these situations, and I can see why they would leave such a bad taste in the mouth of responding officers.

  12. #12 |  peggy | 

    Before gov. and the FDA, joke, began the only way some people could make money was to cook and sell from their home i.e. Paula Deen. With so many young people trying to make money to learn how to work they don’t need some fat ignorant jerk to spoil their dreams. The gov. and FDA do a very poor job of protecting us from e-coli etc. through their tests which leave a lot to be desired. These young boys were trying to learn how to work and be a credit to society. Bet Donald Trump would be happy to meet them and show them the corrupt ways things work.

  13. #13 |  Irving Washington | 

    Mishandled to be sure, but what argument are you making? Is the point that no regulation of food vendors is necessary? I can imagine that argument, but it requires a very different world. Is the argument that there should be a regulatory exception for lemonade stands run by cute children? OK, write me the language. I think you’ll find it difficult.

  14. #14 |  jb | 

    #13,
    The argument is that “regulation” should only apply to merchant sellers of food (i.e, people for whom selling the food is their main and usual business). Someone who occasionally sells stuff without the purpose of making their living from it should not have to get a license/be inspected, and it should be obvious to buyers whether they are patronizing a merchant business or a sometime hobby.

  15. #15 |  random guy | 

    Once again, article comments are depressing. Its sad how many people buy into the government line of ‘just get the proper permits’. No consideration given to the unfairness and expense of the permit process.

    Then Chicken Little comes out; ‘What if someone got salmonella?’ ‘You never know what could have been in those brownies!’ Really? Are these people like this all the time? Do they live every day in perpetual fear of invisible threats that the government doesn’t claim to have under control? Are they that insecure in their own ability to make choices in their day to day lives? Do they honestly believe that anyone in government goes around doing comprehensive testing of hot dog carts or cookie stands? If a half dozen complaints are filed, maybe.

    I was pretty sure everyone understood that the government just wanted money from fees. Anyone who has ever worked in food service knows there is no consistency to how health codes are enforced. I know of perfectly legal vendors that I wouldn’t go to because they’re disgusting and I’m an adult that can safely make my own risk/profit analysis. I probably wouldn’t buy baked goods from teenagers in the park, but I also don’t think that kind of operation should require a million dollar insurance policy and several thousand bucks cash in hand just to try.

  16. #16 |  Aaron | 

    Have you seen a photo of this councilman? Google it. Yep, he’s a dick alright.

  17. #17 |  Justin S | 

    Holy crap, you’re right. He looks like a character in a movie about selling used cars.

  18. #18 |  Jonas | 

    If anybody wants to contact them by phone:

    http://newcastle-ny.org/index.php?option=com_contact&view=category&catid=16&Itemid=84

  19. #19 |  Grog | 

    It is an important lesson. The regulatory state makes starting a business really, really hard, and the funny part is, it does not filter for bad ideas, it bad products, it filters for form.

    Now, I think it is messy. We don’t want folks selling salmonella, anarcho-capitalist arguments aside. But then, we have large companies selling salmonella with no real repercussions other than lobbying costs, so the structure we have is just another subsidy to big companies that manage to poison us, rather than small companies that do it by accident.

    This jackass, who apparently only cares about the letter of the law if there’s personal gain involved, is a jackass. If I lived in the area, I’d bring cupcakes to all of his events and give them away for free,

  20. #20 |  Waste93 | 

    Matt,

    Worst as in the ‘do you know who I am’ type of calls. We actually had to have the pictures of all council members posted through out the station because when one called the call taker didn’t immediately recognize who they were and cow tow to them. Another incident we had an injury accident involving a minor that a council member called demanding information about. However we can’t release medical information since we are police only and since it was a minor we can’t release their information either under state law. They didn’t like that answer either and we got a memo the following day telling us how to respond to such inquiries. Which ironically enough was exactly how we did handle it.

    The advantages of a smaller town is thankfully we don’t get many murders and rapes though we’ve had a few. They are not however irritating in that in those cases the people really need your help. Council calls are more about satisfying their own ego and using law enforcement to placate their own pet peeves regardless of policies or laws.

  21. #21 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Good stuff. I agree that a good way to ensure your kids don’t grow up as pro-nanny statists is to let them feel the pain (in small, controlled amounts) of all things state.

    It should counter the “salute the flag” and “US soldiers do God’s work” teachings at school and popular media.

  22. #22 |  Matt | 

    Waste93, I see what you mean and my comment was a bit facetious (hopefully you saw the smiley face).

  23. #23 |  Waste93 | 

    I did. Just wanted to clarify for others whom may not have realized it though.

  24. #24 |  Aresen | 

    Justin S | November 16th, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Holy crap, you’re right. He looks like a character in a movie about selling used cars.

    I thought he looked more like the consigliere lawyer for a gang of professional car thieves.

  25. #25 |  Elroy | 

    Cupcake selling without a permit is a gateway crime to larger crimes. It is only a matter of time until these “entreaupreneurs” start including toys with the cupcakes and marketing to kids. They probably were using transfats in the cupcakes too. We should be talking jail time for these two. Thank god for politicians who can nip this sort of thing in the bud.

  26. #26 |  trizzlor | 

    This really seems like all light and no heat.

    The mother said that the LEO was extremely pleasant and sorry to have to come out.

    The park has specific checks on unattended children vending there, as per the superintendent: “If it’s the Girl Scouts selling cookies or the local youth organization raising money for charity, the fee can be waived,” Snyder said. “But if Sally and Judy wanted to make money to go to the movies, there might be a charge, and their parents would have to be involved .”

    The kids were there two days in a row hoping to “save up for a restaurant”. Yeah, Wolfensohn looks like a dick in a suit and could find better uses for his free time. But the facts of the story are that a local community has restrictions on who can sell in their park that they chose to enforce, and (by all accounts) a pleasant policeman was sent out to check in with the parents and explain the situation. Where’s the money shot?

    On a related note, I see young kids selling candy on the subway at all hours of the day, sometimes during school, sometimes late at night, usually for undeterminable school/charity organizations. Should I ignore it because they’re just “young entrepreneurs” trying to catch the after-bar crowd?

  27. #27 |  Joe | 

    The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.

  28. #28 |  John J. Nazarian P.I. | 

    Looking at this guy the only thing the kids did wrong was not give chubby cheeks a few free-bees! What an arrogant piece of crap……Wolfenfuck has to be a perfect example of what is wrong with America today! What a big duck, he calls the cops on two little kids…..I hope he now realizes that what he did will follow him around for the rest of his life……..just google him, LMAO

    John J. Nazarian, P.I.
    desperateexes.com
    Beverly Hills, Ca.

  29. #29 |  When Life Gives You Lemons… | iNewp.com | 

    [...] November, New Castle, New York Councilman Michael Wolfensohn called police when a pair of 13 year old boys were selling brownies and cupcakes. In Appleton, Wisconsin the City [...]

  30. #30 |  When Life Gives You Lemons… | lemonadeday.net | 

    [...] November, New Castle, new York Councilman Michael Wolfensohn called police when a pair of 13 year old boys [...]

  31. #31 |  RL | 

    Thank you all for common sense replies except Elroy #25 . What a curmudgeon you must be to live with. We have hope, if just a few of us.
    Wonder how many of America’s finest wanted to go on break when that type of call came in. I am praying most would . Hopefully, a few would hand the little ones a few bucks before they left. Now that would make an outstanding perception of the word Police Officer !!
    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men “and women” to do nothing”.

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