Thursday, May 16, 2013

Late Night law would force bar owners to create powerless police force, endanger lives

There will be lawsuits. There will be blood.

Posted by Chris Haire on Thu, May 16, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Upper King St.
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  • Upper King St.
There are a lot of benefits to being a newspaper columnist that those of us in the biz don't like to talk about. We do it for your protection just as much as ours.

Like this for instance: You are not supposed to know that alcohol has zero affect on us. None at all. If you don't believe me, then you can buy me or Mat Catastrophe or Tara Servatius a drink the next time you see us out. Hell, buy us 20. It won't matter. The only thing that gets us drunk is the tears of our enemies.

Two, we get paid by the insult. And I don't mean we get paid for writing them. Nope. We get cash money each and every time one of our loyal readers puts us down. There is also a pay scale. If you call us socialists, that's a Benny. If you call us commie pinkos, that's a Benny Grant. If you tell us to go suck a horse's long ranger, that's a double-Benny and a pack of Herpecin. Score.

Three, we can see the future. Which means that we knew all about that IRS-Tea Party mess like months ago, but we didn't want to ruin the surprise. We haven't told you that Benedict Cumberbatch's John Harrison is actually Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness, and we're not going to start spoiling movies now.

We also know exactly how all of this Benghazi BS is going to shake out. Eric Holder is going to try to commit hari-kari with a broken spork, Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to get promoted to head judge on the Obamacare Death Panel, and President Obama will slip out of the White House in the middle of the night and join Mark Sanford, Rush Limbaugh, and Eliot Spitzer for a Viagra-fueled sex tourist trip around the world. The best part: porn star James Deen and Teen Mom Farrah Abraham will be there to sign autographs and offer tax advice.

Sadly, this ability to see into the future also means that we know what is going to happen when Charleston City Council passes their Late Night Entertainment Establishment Ordinance. And let me tell you, it ain't pretty. There will be lawsuits. There will be blood. And there will be frantic calls to 9-fucking 1-1.

See, according to the Late Night Ord, bars will be required to police the sidewalks in front of their establishments and any parking lots used by their patrons.

Now, if you're like me, you probably think that sort of thing is a job best left to the police, but that's not what Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen and Mayor Joe Riley think. In fact, the dynamic duo behind the Late Night ordinance believe that bars should be responsible for creating their own poorly trained, uniformed quasi-police force, one that will have absolutely no enforcement powers but will have all the responsibility of enforcing the law. And if the bars in questions don't comply, their business licenses just might get shitcanned by the city.

Don't believe me? Well, here's what the ordinance itself says:

It shall be the responsibility of the Late Night Entertainment Establishment personnel to patrol all areas outside the establishment where patrons queue and to maintain order and pedestrian clearance on all sidewalks which abut the premises of the establishment.

It shall be the responsibility of Late Night Entertainment Establishment personnel to routinely patrol all on-site and off-site areas used for parking by the establishment or its patrons to prevent such areas from becoming outdoor gathering places. It shall be the responsibility of Late Night Entertainment Establishment personnel to clear all on and off-site parking areas within 30 minutes of closing.

All security personnel shall be readily identifiable as such by means of uniforms or other attire.

Now, the first responsibility is fairly reasonable, at least on the surface. A bar or club should make sure that the line entering into their establishment is orderly, but that's more of a common courtesy thing. This is also something that most establishments already do. But that's not the intention here.

What Mullen and Riley want is for the bars themselves to make sure that people aren't congregating outside of a bar on the sidewalk, which is, you know, a frikkin public space. They don't want you and me and our buddy Half-Cocked John Shafttoe chatting outside and smoking Camel Lights. They want Charleston's sidewalks to be free and clear of riff-raff, which in this case is anybody that isn't waiting in line to get into a club or is speed-walking past the nogoodniks on their way to a meal at The Ordinary.

As for the second little bit there, Mullen and Riley's Late Night Ord requires bar staff to patrol all parking lots used by patrons. The bar doesn't even have to own the parking lot. Heck, it doesn't even have to be adjacent to the bar. Bar patrons simply have to use that lot and it's the bar's responsibility. Yikes.

And then there's that third bit there. Can you say Hitler Youth? Just kidding. I will not play the Hitler card. As a newspaper columnist, that is strictly forbidden. We leave that up to politicians and commenters. So have at it.

Of course, none of that is really here nor there. Riley and Mullen's Late Night Ordinance will pass, and soon the sidewalks and parking lots in downtown Charleston will be patrolled by powerless and frightened bar employees who are legally required to tell easily angered gangs of drunk assholes hanging out on the street to go the fuck home.

I don't know about you, but I've read plenty enough police reports to know how that's going to turn out.

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