first of all, adam yauch, we miss you.
second of all, anyone not availing themselves of the free entertainment offered by the lowell city licensing commission on thursday nights at 6:30pm is surely missing one of the best entertainment values in the merrimack valley.
(ok, everything so far, from the title to the gratuitous pot shot just taken above, with the outstanding exception of the props to adam yauch for the pun, is unfair).
nobody was ill a the license commission meeting last night, and everything progressed more or less fairly and more or less as expected. it's just that an independent observer to the petitions and repetitions of this particular little circus can't help but conclude that we still have a long way to go to make this process and this bureaucracy everything that this fair city deserves and is owed.
the best evidence of this is the pointlessly adversarial position and tone taken by commission chair wally bayliss to an extremely respectful and reasonable request by the police department to entreat that license requests for the upcoming folk festival weekend are thoughtfully and responsibly screened in light of the past year's unfortunate impromptu curfew and the potential for public safety issues to once again arise. a reasonable response might have been, "thank you for your concern, which is respected, duly noted, and will be assuredly taken into consideration during all our upcoming deliberations". even further, if any particular commissioner's nose might be out of joint at any perceived implication that the licensing was at all contributory towards last year's unfortunate impromptu curfew, the response could have been extended to say "and observing that no license issues were brought back to this board as a result of last year's unfortunate impromptu curfew, it would also be important to ask the police department, as agents of this board, to be especially vigilant and bring any and all issues back here so that we can continue to improve the processes around this particular joint responsibility, which is the safe and lawful pursuit of happiness by all involved". (to which a polite and respectful police response might be "will do").
this all should have and could have taken 30 seconds. however, perhaps to ensure we free attendees to the circus got our money's worth, wally bayliss took it upon himself and no one but himself to drag it out for another 15 minutes, taking every possible opportunity to disrespect anyone and everyone BUT the license commission and its licensees, from the police department, to the lawful venue owners pursuing lawful utilization of their venues, to "bikers", a pejorative which must have been used two dozen times in as many minutes. wally, here's a suggestion--any hope you may have had to point out reasonable responsibilities for those other than the license commission and its licensees is quickly lost because everyone in attendance can only be thinking to themselves, "when is this guy going to shut up?". and, speaking as someone whose grandfather, astride a 1915 harley davidson, was a "biker", and whose aunt, until her death at age 80, was a "biker", and whose cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors all are happy to be "bikers", your whole schtick reeks of the sort of unfounded prejudice that should have someone expressing those opinions recalled from their position.
public servants serve the public--not the narrow portions of the public they prefer. wally, if you're unclear on that, there are a lot of people who would be happy to shake your hand on your way down off of your podium.
the next act to hit the circus was a series of sadly perfunctory approvals for various licenses to dispense liquor and amplify music, that, having seen a bunch of these so far, so assuredly lack bite to go with their bark that it's pure comedy. a neighbor to one, who has been coming before the board for FOUR YEARS to petition for relief from noise in clear and unanimously stipulated violation of the licenses granted was essentially ignored, as he and his neighbors have always been, in favor of taking the word of the offending party that they were "really going to try this time". seriously??? can there be no effective enforcement of the limitations of these licenses handed out by the commission like so much candy? i'm not advocating shutting down the party. you KNOW i'm never advocating shutting down a party. but, seriously, there need to be fines and other consequences for disrespecting the commission, its licenses, and the public for whom the entire process is to serve in the first place. would that be so hard? i'm quite sure, if it began to cost what it ought, that the licensees would be much quicker to do right things. am i the only one who sees this??? instead, nothing has changed or will change, and you can bet your paycheck the same conversation will be had again next time the scofflaws come back for their rubber stamp.
the other portion of the spectacle i was unable to watch completely, having tickets to a show at that scurrilous venue that would dare pursue their business during the sacred folk fest weekend, was the license approval for the soon-to-be finn's pub downstairs from brian's ivy hall on merrimack street. brian's, if you recall, is a sometimes target of noise complaints, though, by all accounts, a model citizen in terms of alcohol distribution. the owner(s) asked for a license to open a restaurant on their ground floor, and a bar and pool hall on their second, along with a piece of paper which would allow them on these additional floors to do the very same things as they are accused of doing on their third, which would be not doing quite all that can be done to save their neighbors from unwanted and unlicensed noise over and above that for which they are properly licensed. the owner, for his part, swears he has no interest or need for such, observing he already has that on his third floor. the neighbors, for their part, would want the various pieces of paper handed out to make it necessary for him to follow through on that oath.
the uninvolved bystander thinks to himself "gee, such a perfect time to use one of those restricted licenses the new regulations allow".
the neighbors, however, attribute malice to this particular business owner asking for everything to which he might be entitled, and everybody else jumps in to take sides.
can't we all get along?
a well-run restaurant filling that void on merrimack would be a very good thing. businesses that are complimentary to the nightclub on the top floor would also be very good things. no more noise than is currently lawfully allowed would also be a very good thing. we have the means to provide for all. let's do it!
oh, and one last thing: props to commissioners akashian and weicker who continue to provide thoughtful balance to the bombast and belligerence that is chairman bayliss. a license holder skating close to the edge of their obligations to the state department of unemployment assistance was artfully placed in a position to either comply, or forfeit their license, as is in the best interest of all. kudos to commissioner weicker for the solomon-like motion to force some right thing to be done. sure, chair bayliss obfuscated and obstructed and did everything he could to soften it, (pushing out the deadline for a week because his bloviations make the quantity of business for the immediately following meeting a bit on the heavy side), but in the end a good thing was done.