one last thing...
last night the point was beaten like a dead horse (commissioner weicker flogged it more than all others) that riot and mayhem at fortunato's last year has been corrected by its closing, and many (most?) would want this to be taken as an indication that the system as it exists is working.
well, i have a couple of observations about that:
first of all, the closing of fortunato's was NOT effected by action of the license commission. that closing was effected by enforcement by the board of health. license commissioners wishing to cite this as an example of why further rules are unneeded are actually emphasizing the point that they are not doing enough to enforce their existing rules. after all, if the only effective response for violations of liquor ordinances is not coming first from the license commission, something is definitely wrong and in need of improvement.
second of all, the reason downtown residents, police, city councilors and others are moving forward proposals for stepping up restrictions on liquor establishments is not just because we had just one particularly egregious flaunting of the rules. it's not even because we have a lot of ongoing little flauntings of the rules. commissioners were happy to point out that public urination now comprises the plurality of downtown disorder according to published police statistics. but this diminishes and disrespects the point that in just the past week, we have seen two citizens bleeding from the head as a result of severe wounds received as a result of liquor-related disorder, and one of those injuries was of such severity as to be life threatening. that such extreme and life-threatening injury might recur every week or two here downtown as a result of overserving and other liquor-related violations is unacceptable, even if the number of violations were to plummet to just those.
i learned, years ago as a part of my software job, of a curiously ineffective quality initiative at a major manufacturer of motorized lawn equipment. as a result of flagging business due to diminishing product quality, the manufacturer instituted a program intended to improve quality by tracking any and all product defects, assigning them to the responsibility of each responsible factory unit, and meting out financial rewards and punishments accordingly. sounds good, right? better quality work would be rewarded, and poorer quality work would be penalized. things should get better, right?
trouble was, the quality metrics mixed things like paint defects with other things, like, um, say, a lawnmower blade spontaneously detaching and severing the foot of an operator. those lawnmowers and lawn tractors from that outfit did indeed become the best-painted in the industry, but nobody bought any more of them, because they still sucked where it counted most.
well, our downtown disorder stats seem to me to be an awful lot like that. while people discuss the cosmetics of lawnmower paint jobs and public urination, the truly important issue of extreme bodily injury goes disrespected. yeah, we also had a riot. but those trivialities and that one particular riot wasn't and isn't the real problem, or its full extent.
i, for one, do not feel that the overall and total *number* of incidents is all that significant. (in fact, i LOVE the fact that the stats are up, because that means more is being done to enforce the rules). but i will adamantly and resolutely refuse to accept that any proven decrease in inconvenience to the neighbors of an establishment can compare to the likelihood of someone walking in the area to be seriously injured as a result of poor liquor enforcement.
any commissioner interested to argue trivia with the superintendent risks missing the point.