Ok, before you guys get all over my ass, they're going to ask the state legislative delegation to do some legislatin' to ostensibly cut down on underage drankin'. Among the proposals:
- Adding a bar code with DOB information to your driver's license.
- Making it a crime to have someone else's ID if you're caught drinking underage.
- Making doormen criminally liable for letting in underage people.
The bar code thing isn't going to solve very many problems, unless the ACC Commission or the state gummint is planning on providing scanners at little or no cost. If they don't, then this is just another unfunded mandate thrown on to bar owners. Also, I expect to see the tinfoil hat crowd go apeshit about this one. Please don't disappoint me.
Now, making doormen criminally liable for letting in the younguns? I'm not so sure about that one, to be honest. First of all, let's be clear. If a doorman is knowingly letting in the youth of Athens, then sure, bust them. But think about any crowded night downtown. When customers are stacked 8 or 10 deep at the door, and with fake IDs getting better and better, is it really good policy to hold door staff responsible for an honest mistake? The net result of a law like this is pretty clear - no doorman wants to get arrested, they'll move on to doing something else, and the bars downtown will have less doormen and less experienced doormen. And the crowd control problem grows.
Elton Dodson: The Voice of Reason
That's one I never thought I'd type. But Super-Commissioner Dodson (I assume he wears the cape and tights on his own time) has a point, and the ABH is wrong for calling him out in this editorial.
Let's give credit where credit is due - and Elton (along with County Attorney Bill Berryman) has a point. Other local bloggers are on this like white on rice in a snowstorm, so I don't have much to add. Here's Adrian. Here's JMac.
The Bar Owners are Peee-yossed!
So local bar owners are organizing. The leadership appears to be coming from the cats who own Walker's, but sources tell me that they had a very well-attended meeting on Wednesday evening with about 25 - 30 bar owners in attendance. The bar owner's association meeting covered a variety of topics, with one of the main things being why the Mayor and Commission keeps picking on them with skyrocketing property taxes (some bar owners have seen around a 300% property tax increase in the last four years), the extra excise tax on liquor drinks, the sidewalk cafe railings that make crowd control harder, and a handful of other issues.
This is a group that is going to get politically involved pretty soon, as I understand it.
There are two mindsets on this whole issue of how the Commission treats bar owners. Either the bar owners are legitimate business owners who deserve to be treated with the same dignity that the owners of other businesses get from the gummint; or they are ruthless merchants of sin and iniquity that happen to be a convenient piggy bank for those times when the general fund gets a little short.
Here's what I don't get. Many of our commissioners, and certainly our Mayor, talk a good game about being supportive of the downtown entertainment industry. I've seen Heidi downtown. Same with Elton, David Lynn, and a few others. But once they get behind the rail - well, I'm not ready to say that they are anti-bar yet. I will say that the bar owners have a couple of good points to make.
Not to sound too Donald Rumsfeld here, but you build a local economy on the businesses you have, not the businesses you wish you had. If you've lived here for a few decades, as I have, you might remember what downtown looked like a few months after Georgia Square Mall opened up. It wasn't a pretty sight. Bars and music venues kept downtown Athens from looking like any one of hundreds of blighted city centers. They also contribute a lot of money into the local economy.
In any event, it's a good thing that the bar owners are getting organized. The main problem between government and business in this town is a lack of communication.