Monday, August 14, 2006

Gay Activists Question Quinn's Crackdown on Clubs

Speaker Quinn's proposed legislation against night clubs that lack sufficient security measures has generated opposition in an unexpected quarter. As the NY Times reports this morning, there is concern in the gay community and among civil libertarians that the security cameras proposed by the speaker compromise the privacy of gay patrons, a number of whom who are not comfortable with the potential exposure.

The thing that concerns club owners is the relative ineffectiveness of cameras because, as NYNA counsel Rob Bookman points out, "security cameras do not prevent crime because there is no one on the other end monitoring what is going on. 'Our experience is that they don't make the clubs safer.'"

Which brings us to the larger issue her. As Bookman opined in yesterday's NY Daily News, "The night life industry is a critical component of the city's vital tourist industry. The nightclub industry gets more than 64 million patrons each year..."

This a business that generates hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues and employs thousands of people. It is crucial for the city's law makers to develop policies that not only ensure safety-something that is essential to the health of the industry-but also ones that help the clubs grow and prosper.

Unfortunately, as yesterday's editorial counterpoint by Councilmember Vallone underscores, there is an overemphasis on safety and not enough focus on nurturing business growth. To say, as Vallone does, that the industry is "out of control," is to overemphasize the criminal justice side of things. It also underrates the extent to which the problem of underage drinking is a societal issue and not just a club issue.

And on the issue of fake ID's, Isn't about time we did something about the young people who willfully break the law in order to bamboozle club owners? To make club owners exclusively responsible is both shortsighted as well as unfair. It is an entire cohort of youngster who are "out of control" more than the club owners that the Council is targeting.