Bar Safety Hopping

by John Washington on February 15, 2013

Scottsdale Republic wunderkind Grant Martin came up with another Putzer Prize-winner today with his editorial “Bar-safety measures overdue and a relief, but not innovative” [not yet online at AZCentral].

Will the changes ensure such trage­dies won’t happen again? Of course not. But if nothing else, they’re a long-over­due step toward preserving one of Scottsdale’s greatest assets.

“One of Scottsdale’s greatest assets?” The bar district? Seriously? Did you just move here from Bourbon Street? The notion that the bar district even covers the cost of its public safety burden was disproved long ago…but never reported in the Republic, I hasten to add.

We’re not going to get caught up in the hand-wringing over what many people think the entertainment district has devolved into. It’s still wonderfully vibrant and exciting with a well-de­served reputation as the primary local destination for the young in search of a fun evening.

“Hand-wringing?” Again, you must be kidding. Concern about four stabbings (one fatal) and 446 reported violent crimes in 24 months is “hand-wringing?” However, I guess it is somewhat accurate to call the situation “vibrant and exciting.” Like maybe convoy duty in Iraq or Afghanistan would be a thrill.

But it’s precisely because of that reputation that the impending adoption of stringent safety guidelines feels hollow.

“Stringent safety measures?” The wobbly wheel has now fallen off your wagon. There’s nothing “stringent” about better lighting, bouncer school (whatever that is), and more-frequently-submitted “security plans” (whatever those are).

Thompson’s death exposed the ugly fact that the city and the bars failed to protect visitors. We’ll reserve our ap­plause for when civic leadership un­veils inspired policies crafted with foresight, not common-sense guidelines precipitated by tragedy.

Not only did the city not protect visitors (disregarding momentarily the fact that Thompson was an employee rather than a visitor), what about the RESIDENTS who’ve had to put up with this garbage for two years? Late-night noise, garbage, trespassing (including three residential intruder incidents within a week of Thompson’s murder) have plagued the neighborhoods and non-bar businesses around the bar district.

“Common sense” should have told Mayor Jim Lane and the City Council that creating the highest concentration of liquor licensed establishments in the state would lead to exactly these problems.

We don’t need “innovative” or “inspired policies.” We need to heed “common sense,” as well as the well-reasoned and clearly expressed concerns of our residents.

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