shit gets real...
sarah favot and evan lips wrote a piece in yesterday's paper that runs down circumstances and perspective on a disturbance at a local nightclub. normally, i like to keep things generic when details are irrelevant, but, in this case, relevance is mounting quickly, so i'll name the names about which the most recent contretemps swirls, brian's ivy hall, and it's most visible of the four owners, kevin hayhurst.
anyway, kathleen marcin, president of the downtown neighborhood association, took exception to the sun article, and not because it wasn't going too far in naming names, but, in her opinion, because it wasn't going far enough. in her blog post later yesterday, she expresses sickness and tiredness that (kathleen, please forgive me for paraphrasing, and i hope i have the correct spirit of your points) brian's ivy hall in general, and kevin hayhurst in particular, (her opinion here, not trying to imply more than her opinion, nor imply her opinion is necessarily right or wrong) have a demonstrated track record of disrespect and transgression that remains both largely unreported and definitely unpoliced.
all still fair enough as far as it goes--within certain bounds of dad-like concern which, as we all know, is never completely free of dad-like bias, nor infallible. (i may not agree with her singular focus, nor her inclusion of some pretty mean-spirited personal attacks, but we all have our fixations, and i won't blame her for hers because i'm always begging here for mine, aren't i, and i will prefer to think kathleen will regret the personal insults and want to apologize for those soon enough, even though i would never expect her to regret making her fairer points). kevin, i know, disagrees strongly with kathleen's characterizations, and that's all still fair enough as far as it goes, too--not hard to understand, that one, is it. and, full disclosure, i will be sure not to hide my gratitude to kevin and his three business partners for their generosity to host for free the "will rock for food" benefit show a couple years ago soon after they opened--i've written about it here and elsewhere, and i still appreciate it two years later. (part fundraiser for the merrimack valley food bank, part rock show, and part me turning 50). to recap: so far, two people i respect and regard well are at loggerheads, and i'm all the more grateful to their fairness to me to not hold either or both associations against me. i do have a certain interest in the disagreement, because i do live downtown here, and i do prefer a happy, safe, prosperous and liveable downtown, and, really, the two of them are showing passion about that very same interest, albeit in complete disagreement with each other over the means. i'd want to tell BOTH of them to be better behaved in their choice of personal expressions, but that's not really the subject i want to get into today, and we can save that for tomorrow or another time. i'm not always the best one to be criticizing others for their choices in self-expression, am i...
the real meat of kathleen's matter, once you get past the ad hominem unfairnesses, is in her allegations. i'll pick out the biggest ones i see in her piece, and repeat them here for discussion:
1. "bars and residents were doing fine before this place opened".
huh? are we now blaming BIH for the "club 44" aka fortunato's riot? the beaten-within-inches-of-life bloody bodies strewn on middle street far closer to far more places with clearer records of license violations? (i won't name those names here so we can stay closer to the point). but let's chalk this one up to hyperbole and poetic license, and move on lest we be here all day arguing colorful expressions.
2. "tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent directly outside BIH since it's [sic] opening due to all the mayhem at the corner of merrimack and john streets".
this one is a bit of a stretch, but i'll allow a certain portion of it while pointing out that hookslide kelly's is no slouch at producing drunken church-wall-pee-ers and vandalism and violence right across the street, and there's a certain motel caswell excess potential in drawing such conclusions too closely around people trying to run a business, but not without relevance, and not the main point, either, so lets continue to move on.
3. "brians ivy hall no longer pays for police details like other bars do; they just rely on the 4-officer downtown detail... ...the sun should do a little actual reporting and find out the exact amount being paid in city taxes by this establishment. mr. hayhurst does not live in lowell any longer and as a tenant wasn't paying property taxes anyway and BIH doesn't own the building so they are not paying property taxes".
i'm not much of a fan of this argument, either. i'm sure BIH's landlord pays property taxes, and unless we're going to start trying to make second class citizens out of tenants, i think everyone should get off and stay off this point straight away. not all lowell business owners live in town, either. we need to get over that, too. but the bit about civic costs vs civic benefits is useful to always bear in mind, though i might go just a bit further to observe that patrons of one downtown business often are or become patrons of other downtown businesses, and a lot of restaurants and other outfits appreciate walk-in business and contribute a tax share of that activity, and the whole thing is a lot more difficult to figure than is presented here. i will also say that a variety of entertainment options will draw entertainees far more effectively than will monotony, and anyone taking a trip to places like the faneuil hall area has to admit to understanding the sense of that. downtown lowell is doing much, much better in the nightlife variety area than in a long, long time, and though BIH makes an inviting target for its size, its positive attributes are similarly scaled. let's continue to move on.
now comes the good stuff:
and, by "good stuff", i mean the whole reason i'm prompted to write this today:
4. "the most obvious is less than accurate testimony by police officers at license commission hearings regarding BIH. i wrote about this issue back in [sic] when the license commission was trying to address the noise issues and somehow the 20+ noise complaints about BIH did not exist (note to chief: one of your officers entered a woman's home after 10pm to investigate a noise complaint and did not file a report). this same situation happened again just hours before the most recent incident when there were allegations that BIH had not called police about an assault that occurred (mind please..mr. hayhurst's assertion that this happened in the 'common hallway' leading to BIH, not actually inside. my assertion; when you are using that street level door as your entrance, there is nothing 'common' about it; it is being used as part of your business) police officers told Commissioner's [sic] there has never been any problems associated in or around BIH. please explain those tens-of-thousands of dollars. i completely understand loyalty and these guys are only human (one of the BIH owners mr. finns' brother is a police officer and frequently is seen working the downtown weekend detail outside his brothers [sic] bar) i'm sure other officers do not want to be seen as saying anything against a fellow police officers [sic] family member. the police dept. does not seem to be able/willing to address this issue".
yup, baby--shit just got real. in essence, the president of the downtown neighborhood association is accusing at least one member of the police department of some level of familial-inspired corruption, aka nepotism, and further suggesting that such has tainted testimony to the license commission by other officers, and the whole mess stands without any serious attempt by the local newspaper to report it.
i am, by repeating this, consciously stirring the pot. maybe the rant would have passed little-noticed, and disregarded because of the ad hominem hyperbole and consequent unfairness at the top. but this is a serious accusation, and not something i want to let slide for one of two reasons: either the president of the downtown neighborhood association has gone way too far, and serious apologies are necessary, or we have an important scandal that needs to be investigated and brought to full light of day.
i am not saying which it is. i can't--i don't know. as i said, i regard both ms marcin and mr hayhurst in high esteem, and i am (as i hope is clearly noted in my repeated references here in this blog) a strong supporter of the lowell police department for their overall in the balance transparency and respect for citizens, business owners and visitors. (nobody's perfect, and kathleen and kevin's penchant for defensive insult would qualify, as would much of my entire life, but we're talking overall here, please).
so, the one outfit i'll call out on all this is the lowell sun. and i will put some skin in the game for them: i have a new year's resolution on the table to cancel my sun subscription. the decline in local coverage, sparse as it was five years ago when i moved here, has gotten so bad i simply can't rationalize throwing good money after bad anymore. or you could chalk it up to having to page past the loco-emotive, i really don't care which way you see it. but i'll make a public deal right here and right now: if the lowell sun does what it ought to do, which is jump ALL OVER the president of the downtown neighborhood association making allegations of police corruption, and make a reasonable effort to tell us what they find out, i'll not only not cancel my subscription, but i'll even renew that subscription for another year as a reward.
anybody else have an opinion? i am sincerely interested to hear all of them.