Sometimes, justice does prevail
Thankfully, Randy Barton’s friends and children won’t have to visit the popular concert organizer and family man in the slammer. Barton walked away from the Summit County Justice Center a free man on Thursday after a nine-hour hearing to determine whether he violated liquor laws by selling alcoholic beverages at two outdoor concerts last summer.
Barton refuted the charge that he broke the law saying the drinks were free and the county sheriff testified that Barton had checked with him prior to the events to ensure that he was in compliance with the law.
Summit County Clerk Sue Follett first raised the issue, alleging Barton did not have the proper permits to distribute alcohol.
The expensive, taxpayer-subsidized day in court demonstrates, once again, that the confusing morass of rules surrounding liquor sales and consumption in Utah are unintelligible, not only to tourists but to those who are supposed to enforce them.
Barton’s low-key, family-friendly, free summer concerts in Peoa are a perfect example of the kind of rural hospitality Summit County should encourage not punish.
And the county’s decision to prosecute Barton is exactly the kind of bureaucratic bullying that we can do without.
Barton has made significant contributions to the ambiance of Park City and Summit County by organizing free and low cost entertainment for both visitors and residents. He has accomplished much of that with hard work and modest fundraisers while the cities and towns in which he operates have reaped the benefits.
If Follett truly wanted to act in the best interests of the county she would have tossed a couple of bucks in the donation jar and grabbed a seat at the concert.
In his usual upbeat, understated way, Barton made a couple of important points by choosing to take his case to court. Utah’s liquor laws are contradictory and unproductive. And sometimes a free drink is just that, a little extra spirit on a summer evening in the mountains.
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