California Bureaucrats Behaving Badly

Californians have had to endure one of the strictest COVID-19 lockdown regimes in the United States. The state has imposed stay-at-home orders and curfews on its residents. It has also imposed draconian restrictions on how many businesses and other organizations in the state may operate.

Only recently have some of those restrictions begun to be lifted. Some have yielded to public pressure, others have required intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court because of the abuses of individual rights by California’s bureaucrats.

But many more remain in place, allowing California’s public officials and bureaucrats to target businesses they don’t like. That brings us to the city of Los Angeles, the home to Bravery Brewing Company, a 10-year old family-owned microbrewery that has been the target of local government bureaucrats imposing their unique interpretation of state and local COVID restrictions. Christopher Bedford of The Federalist picks up the story:

Like other business owners across the country, the Averys have struggled through wind destroying their tents and cold weather driving away customers with no end in sight, but the indignities and incompetence the business was subjected to on Super Bowl Sunday, Bart tells The Federalist, are just pushing people like him to the brink.

Bravery Brewing Company doesn’t have any televisions, so Sunday, Feb. 7 was set up like previous Super Bowl Sundays, with limited hours. This year, knowing people would be setting up their own parties, Bravery opened for just four hours for customers to grab beer to take home with them before kick-off. Because of that, they didn’t pay the few-hundred-dollar minimums food trucks ask to come by—something they’ve been required to do when serving people on-premises because, apparently, COVID.

This year, however, the inspectors are in charge, and surveillance footage shared with The Federalist shows Los Angeles County inspector Jatinder Chhabra entering the building just over half an hour after they opened. They had to shut down right now, she informed the employee, who was ringing up two customers at that moment. Why? No food truck.

When he protested, saying they were doing take-out only, Chhabra informed him that made no difference. She was “brash,” Bart recalls the employee telling him, and “arrogant, and she could give a sh-t less about shutting us down.”

When the employee put Brian Avery, the brewer, on the line with Chhabra, he asked her to call her supervisor. In the 20 minutes Bart estimates it took her to “resolve” her misunderstanding, the brewery was not allowed to serve the customers who were waiting.

The resolution with her supervisor clearly established the Bravery Brewing Company in the right. So all ended well, right?

Then It Got Worse

At this point, you might think the brewery owners and customers were only exposed to a minor inconvenience. Hold onto your hats, because here is where we find the mentality of a bureaucrat intent on punishing a business that successfully questioned their authority comes into play:

Nor was she satisfied when her supervisor informed her that she was mistaken, the brewery and customers were correct, and business could go on. She then told the sole employee on site he had to make copies of 11 different forms—all while customers waited. While the employee filled out the forms, she can be seen rifling through the racks, exploring the bar tools, and even dancing on camera.

Steven Gregory tweeted the video of the government inspector’s dancing:

Not many bureaucrats are captured on camera in the public celebration of their abuses. This episode is a rare example of the personal reward and satisfaction bureaucrats gain through their arbitrary rule making and enforcement.

How many bureaucrats like Jatinder Chhabra do you have working in your local or state government? How many bureaucrats like Jatinder Chhabra are there in the federal government?

The answer to both questions is too many. What will you do about it?

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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