Ethics Dunce: Doug Wilkey

Let’s shame this guy but good: he deserves it.

The horror.

The horror.

Dunedin, Florida 12-year-old T.J. Guerrero has received a neighbor’s  permission to set up a lemonade stand in front of his property for the last couple years. This isn’t some kind of mega-stand: it’s exactly like the ones I purchased sweet drinks of varying quality from last weekend. It’s Florida, and T.J. is unusual: he is virtually running the 3 to 7 business all year long.

Another neighbor named Doug Wilkey, 61-years-old going on “Get off my lawn, you lousy kids!,”  has emailed City Hall at least four times in two years demanding that T.J. ‘s traditional foray into junior capitalism be shut down. He says that the kid’s  operation is illegal, and that it causes excessive traffic, noise, trash, illegal parking and other problems that, he says, threaten to reduce his property values.

To its credit,  local government officials appear to have the sense of proportion Wilkey does not. “We’re not in the business of trying to regulate kids like that; nor do we want to do any code enforcement like that,” said Dunedin planning and development director Greg Rice. “We are not out there trying to put lemonade stands out of business.”

Wilkey, meanwhile, is resolute. He contacted city commissioners in May, 2013 and followed up in October, then again in March and June this year. He alleges that the stand, which is in front of the property next to his, has attracted rowdy kids, some of whom have “made noise as they lingered near the stand with their skateboards…used profanity, thrown rocks and debris that Wilkey had to pick up before mowing his lawn, and set off fireworks that scared his dog.”  Wilkey also says T.J.’s customers park in front of his home for that long, long period it takes to buy a cup of lemonade.

T.J, in rebuttal, says his longest line ever was five people, which, unless he has sparked a contagion of lemonade addiction, seems about right.  “The city could possibly face repercussions in the event someone became ill from spoiled/contaminated food or drink sales,” the ever-reasonable Wilkey wrote in one email. In fact, how do we know that the kid isn’t some kind of terrorist, hmmmmmmmmmmmm???

“If this were a once a year event by a couple kids to earn a little money for a holiday or something, I would not have a problem with it,” Wilkey has written. “I am very worried about the value of my home, which is why I built in a residential area, not a business area.”

Next time, try a “no children” area.

City Deputy Wayne Gross has polled neighbors and everyone but Wilkey expressed no objections to the 10 to 30 customers T.J. serves daily. To address Wilkey’s complaints about his friends, T.J. now discourages them from visiting and handles orders alone, running between his stand and the windows of cars. When he turns 14, he’s planning on getting a real job, the little punk. Ask Wilkey: he’s what’s wrong with this country!

For Wilkey’s edification, the ethical values he is lacking here are empathy, proportion, acceptance, self-restraint, tolerance, honesty (When you want to sell your property, we’ll talk about values, sir), prudenceproportionality, and dammit, patriotism.

What’s more American than a kid’s lemonade stand?


Pointer: Fark

Sources: NY Daily News, Tampa Bay Times

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts, and seek written permission when appropriate. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, credit or permission, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at


16 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Doug Wilkey

  1. Agree

    Yeah, I don’t like when people stifle a child having a go at entrepreneurism and industriousness. I really don’t like it when it is a government agency doing so and am quite surprised the government didn’t side with the complainer and shut the kid down as has happened in many instances.

    My kiddo in the 4th grade got into the craze of making little multi-colored plastic rubber band bracelets or some such. One day she made 2 to give to her best friends at school She came home excited and said that EVERYONE in her grade liked them and a bunch wanted them.

    AHA! Opportunity to teach a valuable life lesson, Dad says!

    I told her she ought to spend the evening making a dozen or so of them and then go to school and sell them for a nickel or a dime or GADS even the bank breaking Quarter!

    She came home the next afternoon sullen. She’d been reprimanded by her teachers for doing such.

    Dad really finds it hard teaching kid to respect authority with authority as of late is stupid greater than 50% of the time.


    I don’t think the “most of the neighborhood is cool with the lemonade stand even though Wilkey is not” is a valid argument. Majority isn’t always right. If Wilkey WERE in the right, this “majority rules” argument would be even more egregious. The only value in canvassing the neighborhood to evaluate the legitimacy of the complaints leveled, not whether or not the complaints didn’t bother anyone else.

    The kid, according to the kid, seems to understand public relations as well as he addressed valid concerns by Wilkey. If Wilkey did accurately describe the concern of the kid’s friends being noisy and tossing trash about, it would seem the kid addressed that by “firing” his associates. If that’s true, it seems Wilkey’s *valid* complaints had been handled.

    His other complaints? Property values? What else? Come on Wilkey, simmer down now.

  2. It’s a problem in Florida, retired people sitting around the house all day with nothing better to do than take up a cause against someone/some thing.
    These people are shameless, imagine taking action against the airport for…can you guess it…planes taking off and landing!!!

    I say, it’s a beautiful state with endless opportunities to get out and enjoy nature.
    Go to the beach and leave other people alone.

  3. Why hasn’t T.J. re-located his stand elsewhere in the neighborhood, far from Wilkey’s petty meddlesomeness? I mean, if what T.J. does is OK with so many more neighbors…just sayin’.

  4. One of my favorite coffee mugs is from “Coffee with Jesus.” The well-dressed Jesus raises his own cup and offers the sage advice: “Don’t be a punk.” Seems a reasonable distillation of what needs to be said to Mr. Wilkey.

  5. Try searching for “lemonade stands” at, and you’ll find plenty of stories of kids having lemonade stands shut down by local governments with a more busybody attitude than Dunedin, FL. Kudos to those citizens of Dunedin who have actually encouraged T.J. in his entrepreneurial endeavors. He’s got a spirit we could use more of in this country.

  6. I’ve got a little sympathy for the old fussbudget on the sole grounds that the lemonade stand keeps regular daily hours throughout the summer. An additional complaint (not that I have one, but it might be valid) is that while the neighbor gave permission to be on his lawn, in the linked video package, T.J. is clearly set up on the public sidewalk.

    And yes, in college, my nickname was “Old Man LeVier” because after a house party we threw, I got out the garden hose and dispersed the lingering “guests” to get off my lawn. I justified this as the responsible course of action because 1) we were in a neighborhood with families, etc 2) it was well after 2 a.m., and 3) if I didn’t do it, police would eventually come and write noise tickets. (Of course, I did first provide a request and then a warning…but convincing drunk people to do something is rather difficult.)

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