Multnomah County's top elected official apologized Thursday for health inspectors who threatened to fine a 7-year-old for opening a lemonade stand last week at a local arts fair without a license.
"A lemonade stand is a classic iconic American kid thing to do," county Chairman Jeff Cogen said. "I don't want to be in the business of shutting that down."
Cogen said he called Julie Murphy's mom to say he was sorry and that she appreciated the apology.
Maria Fife, Julie's mom, said her daughter wanted to open a lemonade stand after seeing a cartoon character open one. She was selling Kool-Aid lemonade for 50 cents a cup when an inspector approached and asked for her license at Last Thursday, a monthly fair in northeast Portland. The inspector told them that they would need to leave or possibly face a $500 fine. A second inspector also approached the stand later.
While the county inspectors were doing their job, Cogen said, the rules are meant for professional food service operators.
Inspectors need to use professional judgment, he said. "This isn't something we need to be using our limited resources to crack down on," he said.
What's more, Cogen said, he can identify with Julie, noting that he ran lemonade stands as a child and so have his own kids.