Thursday, August 17, 2006

Needed at the City Council: A More Pro-Business Perspective

In all of the hoopla over the passage of the "Bouncer Bill," now inappropriately named "Imette's Law," after the tragic death of Imette St. Guillen, there is one important thing missing: any real appreciation for all of the economic benefits that the city's nightlife industry brings to this city.

There is, of course, the ritualistic expression of wanting to protect those club owners who are "good citizens" but there is very little in the way of tangible policy that is directed at the larger need, what Richard Lipsky says in the NY Times this morning, "is to create a nurturing environment for the nightlife industry to grow and prosper."

That is why the NYNA is so concerned about the single focus on safety in the Speaker's proposed Fall summit. It is the apparent censorious attitude that bugs ths club owners, especially in the absence of any real appreciation of how much the industry contributes economically to the city.

In addition, it also appears that there is a strong tendency to take a serious societal issue-the prevalence of underage drinking-and lay blame on the night life businesses for its existence rather than focusing on some much more compelling social variables. That is why we got such a big kick out of the comments of State Senator Nick Spano (R-Yonkers) who was quoted in the NY Post this morning saying that he was "appalled" by the underage drinking he saw when he toured the Chelsea bar scene.

Memo to Spano: A lot of those kids are coming down from Yonkers and when they're not in the city they are doing some heavy drinking right in Yonkers. What we didn't see or hear from the elected officials is any initiative to criminalize the conduct of the young people themselves who are going out and knowingly purchasing fake ID's.

Which goes to our main point. It is always the store owner or in this case the bar and club owners who are targeted when these kinds of incidents occur. And it always ends up with these entrepreneurs being saddled with additional expensive red tape that is tangential at best to addressing the problems cited by the politicians in the first place.

That is why we need the City Council to expand the scope of the Fall Summit to include initiatives that would help those entrepreneurs in the nightlife industry to grow their businesses. There are too many Judge Roy Beans (look him up) among our electeds and not enough Adam Smiths.