Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Common Sense

Common sense suggests that pounding back five or six car bombs, a dozen pints and a few shots of Irish whiskey in a sitting isn’t the best idea after the witching hour. Common sense suggests getting plastered and pounding on someone’s face isn’t a good idea at any hour. Common sense suggest running someone down with your car at 4 a.m. isn’t even an idea one should entertain at all.

But common sense is not something that comes easy on Caroline Street. Not at noon on a Monday, not at midnight on a Saturday and certainly not at closing time, just a few hours before dawn. There are errors of judgment at all these hours of the day, and some of them have dreadful consequences: Just ask the family of Eddie Loomis.

Life on Caroline Street would be much simpler and safer if every drink served there was chased with a shot of common sense. There wouldn’t be bar-emptying brawls over a spilled slosh of beer. There wouldn’t be drivers climbing behind the wheel with the blood coursing through their veins registering at 1 proof. There wouldn’t be the needless tragedies that sporadically and spontaneously erupt amid the bar district, sometimes claiming the life or lives of the innocent.

True, a shot of common sense would do everyone a bit of good on those late-night sojourns downtown. Yet as we all know, there is no magical shot to give tipplers a lucid look at the big picture before they make their fateful choices. And there’s positively no legislation that will illicit this common sense, contrary to what an out-of-touch jack ass on the City Council might suggest.

Accounts Commissioner John Franck seems to think closing the bars down two hours earlier would somehow sprinkle the city bars with a magical fairy dust that would settle the unrest prompted by the late-night consumption of booze. In his myopic view, all the troublemakers are perched bar side and pounding drinks after 2 a.m., ready to start mayhem and wanton destruction throughout the city. More specifically, Franck seems to think these rabble-rousing drunks only imbibe between the day after Labor Day and the day before Memorial Day.

To put it kindly, Franck’s plan to close down bars two hours earlier in the “off-season” is an asinine proposal pitched by someone who probably couldn’t find Caroline Street without a road map. It smacks of someone who is dreadfully out of touch with the way the city operates after hours and feels the need to cater to tourists, not the people who power the very heart of downtown.

Of course, those who read this blog with any frequency realize there are few kind words here, so why put it nicely? Franck’s legislation isn’t worth the ink used to print the first letter of it. Hell, it’s not even worth the energy used to make a pixel illuminate on a computer or LCD screen. Just as an example of how incredibly stupid his legislation is, Franck himself points to the post-St. Patrick’s Day incident downtown that lead to the death of a city man this year as a motivating force behind the law. Of course it should be noted that Travis Carroll, the man now convicted of running down Ryan Rossley with his car, did so when he was allegedly sober as a church mouse.

Let’s play some revisionist history here for the accounts commissioner. Let’s say the bars closed at 2 a.m. Rossley and his mates decide to keep drinking at a city apartment downtown. Several hours later, they walk out onto the street and encounter Carroll. And the end is all too familiar.

Why stop there? Let’s take a look at Michael Arpey, the fellow who decided to drink all day and night on a Wednesday, then get behind the wheel and crash into a popular 17-year-old Saratoga High football player on his way home. What if the bars had closed two hours earlier then? Well for that would have chased Arpey out a bit earlier, right?

Wrong-o, Johnny boy. Tragically, Arpey sped out of Saratoga Springs shortly before 10 p.m. In fact, it’s safe to say there would be more fellows like Arpey hitting the sauce earlier and harder if Franck’s legislation is ratified.

To add even more stupidity to a mind-numbingly stupid legislation, Franck also notes that the bars would be permitted to stay open later on “special nights” like New Year’s Eve. Who knows? Maybe St. Patrick’s Day would be one of those “special nights.” After all, it makes sense to keep the bars open later on the nights when amateur 'two-beer-queers' are prone to over-indulging, right?

Strangely enough, none of the press given to this proposed law has included comment from the people most directly impacted by closing time: The Saratoga Springs Police. Franck claims he’s talked to plenty of officers and they all insist the time after 2 a.m. is “the worst.” Still, none of these cops have made their thoughts know during the lengthy public dialogue over this ill-conceived law, which is indeed odd.

Franck’s nanny legislation is yet another attempt at the council legislating what does or does not happen on Caroline Street and should be taken seriously by any business owner that doesn’t think a part-time commissioner has any right to dictate how they run their affairs. The discussion now seems oddly similar to the one that occurred about a decade ago, when a hell-bent jackass commissioner named Benton drove a knife into the heart of the Caroline Street Block Party. And there are plenty of people who are still sore about that sordid decision.

The bottom line is that no government can legislate common sense, and the resident of Saratoga Springs should make sure Franck understands this clearly. Aside from banning booze altogether, accidents and tragedies will still occur via the booze consumption in downtown. The best bet is to implore bar owners and servers to police their own patrons so that a hothead freak isn’t willingly given a half-bottle of hard liquor to fuel a festering rage. Hopefully the council realizes this when they mull this legislation tonight in City Hall. Hopefully they also understand that boozers vote, even if they've been up all night drinking.

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