The Harris County Attorney’s office contends that the granting of the permit was a simple error — and Spec’s officials knew it.
“It is offensive that the largest retailer of alcohol in the state does not comply with the law when they have been told that they are violating the law,” said Terry O’Rourke, special counsel in the county attorney’s office.
The law required that Spec's seek permission to open a store, which is what is truly offensive about this story. Spec's--and indeed every business--has a moral right to operate where and how it chooses (so long as it respects the mutual rights of others) without groveling at the feet of petty bureaucrats. But Mr. O'Rourke would have us believe that even when permission is secured, the obsequious citizenry should dutifully obey their masters if they change their mind.
The county is hardly alone in blaming the victim:
Again, the city issued Spec's a permit. And Spec's acted on the premise that the permit was valid. The city however, will not hear of such things. Mr. Rydman is supposed to be omniscient, while government officials are to be absolved of their incompetence.
City Attorney Arturo Michel said the permit Spec’s received was based on the exception given to restaurants that sell alcohol.
“This store was not built because of a city mistake,” Michel said. “Why they thought they could operate as a package store with that permit, I cannot say.”
What is interesting is that the state contends that the permit was issued in error, while the city contends that it made no error. Who then, is responsible for the issuance of this permit that should not be? Both the state and the city contend that Spec's knew the permit should not have been issued, so it is Spec's fault. It wasn't enough that Rydman had to lick their boots, he also had to check their work for accuracy as well.
I do not know John Rydman, but I do know that it is impossible to build the largest retail liquor chain in Texas if one is not a very competent businessman. For the state or the city to imply otherwise is insulting to Mr. Rydman, as well as anyone who values competency.
But the real issue isn't the competency of the parties involved. The real issue is Mr. Rydman's moral right to his own life, his own liberty, and the pursuit of his own happiness. The real issue is whether Mr. Rydman--and indeed every individual--may live for his own sake, or whether his life must be lived in servitude to the government.
The city and the state are grossly wrong on this issue. I applaud Mr. Rydman for his courage in fighting both. Whether he wins or loses, I will drink a toast in his honor. And I will purchase my libation from Spec's.