Monday, September 2, 1996
Readers would love to bounce liquor agents

BY CLIFF RADEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Be careful when you open your voice mail. Outraged readers might be swinging verbal haymakers at what they consider Ohio's over-zealous liquor agents.

''These agents are suffering from a bad case of massive overreaction.'' - Roger Morris, Georgetown.

''This is what happens when you give weak minds a little power.'' - Bob Granger, Reading.

''Always be afraid of the cops,'' said Ruth Dykes of Green Township. ''That's what I always told my teen-agers. Now, everyone knows why.''

''If they had treated my daughter like that, I'd probably be in jail right now for slugging one of those stupid, idiot agents right in the mouth.'' - Marv Williams, Fort Thomas.

Anger was the overwhelming reaction to a recent column about the humiliating treatment two state liquor agents - Edward Yee and Cynthia McLaughlin - gave Jill Lamkin, a 19-year-old concessionaire at Riverbend.

Only following orders

The teen-ager was working at Riverbend to earn money for college. She's an honors student at Ohio State.

According to the agents, Miss Lamkin sold a beer to an underage drinker. Agents confronted her in the concession stand's kitchen. She was arrested, frisked and handcuffed.

Then, she was led by the agents past her co-workers and through part of a concert crowd of 14,424.

Agent McLaughlin's explanation for the handcuffing: ''This is policy.''

Few of my readers bought that.

''What would that female agent think about that policy if it was her teen-age daughter?'' asked Michael Green of Independence.

''And people wonder why decent citizens get ticked off at the government,'' fumed Mary Goodman of Covington.

''If these agents worked for me at General Electric,'' said Larry Callahan of Price Hill, ''I'd terminate them.''

''These cowboys regularly go over the top. They treat underage drinkers like they've been selling secrets to the Russians,'' said a Hamilton County police officer who ''cannot be identified by name because I may encounter these jerks again.''

''They card everyone at Riverbend,'' said Pat Smiley of Rossmoyne. ''I have a real problem with people treating a teen-ager like this.''

''What was a 19-year-old doing selling beer at Riverbend?'' wondered Hazel Martin of Deer Park. ''Is that legal?''

It is. Section 4301.22 of the Ohio Revised Code states: ''Any person 19 years of age or older employed by a permit holder may handle intoxicating liquor in open containers when acting in the capacity of a waiter or waitress.''

Catherine Howard of Bellevue has served beer as a volunteer at such downtown events as Oktoberfest. But now, she wrote in a fax, ''thanks to our friendly state liquor agent, this is my last volunteer event.''

Lew Karpf of Finneytown ''got really angry reading this. What are the phone number and address where one can tell them what we think of Big Brother?''

Ohio's liquor agents operate out of the Department of Public Safety directed by Charles Shipley. Write to him at: 240 Parsons Ave., P.O. Box 7167, Columbus, Ohio 43205-0167. Call him at (614) 466-3383 or fax him at (614) 466-0433.

You can also call his boss, Gov. George Voinovich at 852-3100, or in Columbus, (614) 466-3555.

Roxanne the great

Another column questioned the ethics of Roxanne Qualls' $75-a-head fireworks party to cover the cost of running the mayor's office. This caused a score of readers to explode - at me. They liked the mayor's enterprising ways.

''As a taxpayer, anytime I don't have to pay for a government expense, it's an excellent idea,'' said a university professor who chose to remain nameless.

''It's time to let people in power do something without being hammered over every little thing.'' - David Winslow, Anderson Township.

''I would rather give her the money instead of having some bonehead like Tyrone Yates lead us.'' - Emily Anderson, Walnut Hills.

The only anti-Roxanne sentiments came from Covedale's Jerry Hurley. He called her party ''another demonstration of the mayor's imperial attitude.''

Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Available to speak to groups. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax to 768-8340.