Spring break has many traditions associated with it. Lately, it seems that one of those traditions is for a City Council person somewhere to lose touch with reality and propose a stupid rule in order to keep those damn kids off their lawn.
NEW BRAUNFELS — Last summer, City Councilman Ken Valentine saw a young woman on the bank of the Comal River being fed beer through a "beer bong." Minutes later she fell and received a serious cut.
Valentine is now proposing that the devices be banned from the Comal and Guadalupe rivers inside the city limits and that police confiscate them when found.
"I want the beer bongs off the river," Valentine said at a City Council workshop Monday night. "Their only purpose is to get someone drunk as a skunk as quickly as possible."
Valentine promised to put a call for a beer bong ban on an upcoming City Council agenda.
A beer bong is a long section of flexible tubing attached to a large funnel. The user puts the tube in his or her mouth while another person dumps beer into the funnel. They are a common sight among college-age drinkers on the Comal and Guadalupe rivers when thousands float the waterways on summer weekends.
New Braunfels Police Chief Russell Johnson said he doubts a policy to ban beer bongs would pass legal muster.
"If we break the law, we are no better than they are," he said.
Councilman Lee Rodriguez said he doesn't like the idea either.
"Ken is wanting to bend the rules," he said. "I appreciate his passion about what goes on on the river, but we have to draw the line somewhere. We have to be careful about violating people's rights."
Concerns about personal freedoms led the council to defeat a proposal last year to ban radios from the rivers, and instead adopt a stricter citywide noise ordinance.
Rodriguez said he "was kind of upset" with Valentine because "he keeps putting out a bad message about our rivers," which could keep well-behaved families away.
The public perception that river tourism constitutes an alcohol-fueled wild party will simply draw more rowdy tourists, Rodriguez said.
Many city and Comal County officials believe behavior on the rivers has improved substantially in recent years, as stepped-up law enforcement has created a more family friendly atmosphere.