please help sanity to prevail
i'll choose for lack of a better opening option the recent request by the city manager for the resignations of two of the three license commissioners. clearly, you know i'm in favor of such--it's my opinion that the license commission's lack of participation, let alone leadership which is its charter, in the process of responding to "downtown disorder" (supt. lavallee's preferred euphemism which is as good as any) has been the largest impediment to achieving a safe and prosperous downtown for all residents, employees, patrons and proprietors of the various businesses here. i'm guessing the city council and city manager are most exercised about the commission's repudiation-via-inaction of the recent manifesto of proposed licensing changes, so forgive me if i'm mistaken, but i'm about to continue off on my tangent.
the proposed licensing changes are flawed.
they do not successfully distinguish between responsible businesses (kappy's, for one example raised at the most recent licensing hearing, has been in business almost half a century without one single license-related incident) and those causing all the problems, and they do not fairly respect the legitimate and fair economic interests of the few business owners who stand increasingly alone in defending the economic vitality of our downtown neighborhood. (consider that the city school department fled the bon marche building a couple years ago). a responsible license commission COULD HAVE respected all sides in this collaborative effort by adding their expertise to the mix, and proposing and adopting a reasonable subset of the proposed changes that would have accomplished many things, including respecting the righteous outrage of citizens over the repeated near-fatal assaults occurring downtown. they could have codified requirements for TIPS certification for all servers in the city for one egregiously obvious oversight not currently in our existing rules. they could have done something--ANYTHING at all--but they chose to not. kudos to the city manager for calling "enough is enough" on the charade.
but here's the bigger point--adoption of the full set of proposed changes is wrong. (at least in my relevant opinion). i live here. i eat out here. i listen to music here and attend theater shows here and go to art galleries and related openings here, and i certainly do enjoy beer here. (we will leave the brand discussion out of this one--this is getting long enough as it is). i have grown to greatly respect the business owners here, including absolutely the vast majority of bar owners. my hat is constantly off to the police here who keep good order with the resources they have, from the superintendant right down to each and every beat cop and switchboard operator. and i certainly respect and empathize with all my friends and neighbors here who complete the rich fabric of downtown life, and have to literally live with the consequences of all our actions.
so, first of all, to close chapter one of this novel, PLEASE, let's have a responsible and engaged license commission that is strong enough to say "no" to excess regulation, as has at least the existing and failing one, while it is also proactive in carrying out responsible enforcement of reasonable regulations that achieve the goal of a safe and prosperous city. i said it at the last big meeting, and i'll say it again. all the rules in the world cannot help a lack of vigorous and fair enforcement, which is where we are now. let's keep in mind that new rules are not going to get us the biggest bang for our bucks and efforts. better enforcement of existing rules will get us that. and, while we're at it, yeah, maybe we can add a FEW sensible new ones that both respect the establishments AND their customers AND the neighborhood in which they coexist.
a couple years ago i was in the process of organizing an extremely self-involved benefit for the merrimack valley food back, the world peas cooperative agriculture effort, and, coincidentally, my own 50th birthday. (it was and is my belief that if you can't celebrate your own life by helping others in theirs you're missing out, and i'd say i forever proved my point to myself with this one, but everyone's mileage always varies). anyway, i was having a certain amount of difficulty in conceiving of a venue in which to have this big shindig, owing to the need to save as much of the proceeds as possible for the food bank and the farming coop, and in a somewhat completely random conversation with kevin hayhurst, one of the partners owning and running brian's ivy hall, it was settled on the spot that the benefit show could have his place for nothing. most places were talking hundreds if not thousands of dollars for a room and staff. the brian's room was perfectly sized. kevin and his crew put up with loading in and loading out of four different full bands, dozens of various artists and artisans, an eventual $2000 pile of donated foodstuffs, and who can say how much inconvenience to go along with all of it. and they did it with grace and style. and all for nothing. yeah, he made a few bucks back on the bar, and he and his partners and bartenders and barbacks and door people earned all of it several times over with their effort and hospitality.
i am forever grateful, as i know are the merrimack valley food bank and world peas coop.
so it is this morning (chaper 3) that i am reading about emily desmond's dream to attend berklee college of music in the fall. (she and her talents have already been accepted to their songwriting program, but as any parent of teenagers knows, getting accepted is the easy part in making a college education possible). in the words of her uncle, paul dubuque, emily is a 4.0 student and national honor society scholar who has given of herself countless hours and years of effort to help care for her severely autistic brother, and raise money for autism research. she's spent her life giving to others, and now faces a daunting challenge in doing, finally, something meaningful for herself. she has to find a way to raise the money to see her dreams come to reality.
it does not surprise me that her uncle would want to help. it does not surprise me that other local musicians have all instantly and immediately volunteered to play at a fundraising event. and it does not surprise me that, once again, the partners at brian's ivy hall have made their room available so that all this might become possible.
so, here we are, at the moment when the few of you who were able to make it this far have earned your prize. and here it is:
on sunday, august 26th, a lineup of local musicians who will knock and rock your socks off are waiting to play JUST FOR YOU. it's at brian's ivy hall, and the details are growing by the hour.
please help sanity prevail, and help reward everyone who does so much for others with a little giving of yourself. i promise you it will make you feel like a million.