Last week, Councilman Michael Wolfensohn turned himself into the enemy of entrepreneurial kids everywhere after he called the cops on two adorable little boys, Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff, just trying to sell cupcakes in Gedney Park. At first he seemed unrepentant, but now he's issued a sort of mea culpa on the whole situation. It turns out it's all his supervisor's fault, and the boy's for opening up the park to sales of all sorts of nefarious things:
I started to think about what would happen if a treat made with nuts were sold to a child with allergies? Would the town be responsible? Would the boys and their families be liable? Or, I thought, what if I go to the park next week and there are other people selling all kinds of products, not just baked treats? Is that what we want in our parks?
As a town board member, I was genuinely concerned for everyone’s safety and the peace and well-being of our park. So I spoke with Town Supervisor Barbara Gerrard, who advised me to call the police to see if the boys had a permit, as the permit protects both the town and the vendor. In hindsight, maybe I should have gotten back into my car, gone back to the park to ask the boys myself if they had a permit and to explain why a permit was necessary, to protect themselves and the town.
When government steps in and there is no bad result, people say the government is overreaching. When government fails to act and the result is bad, people say government has been negligent. I felt I had a responsibility to protect both the boys and the town I represent.
So will everyone just stop bugging him now? Though the boys were disheartened when they were told to leave the park, the scandal has given their business a boost. The boys now have an offer to bake and sell their cupcakes from Zagat-rated CupcakeStop. Owner Lev Ekster said, "I don't want these kids to be discouraged for their entrepreneurial spirit. They are ambitious. We should applaud them, not discourage them."