Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Must See TV

I am guessing that most Cincinnatians program Citicable off their remotes. Too bad, it can be great theater. Chuck Luken canceled the televising of the open comments section of council meetings some time ago. That got to be kinda like the Jerry Springer show. (hmmmmm, wonder where he got the idea for his show ?)
In later years, Mayor Qualls dealing with Tom Lukens inane babblings was easily as entertaining as any Jack Benny show.
While the fights between councilmembers are fairly lame these days, the high point of committee meetings is the Vibrant Neighborhoods, Recreation, Parks and Public Services Committee Liquor License Renewal Hearings.
Liquor permits are issued by the state and renewed every year. When permit renewals are challenged by police or citizens groups - the challengers and the owners/defenders meet twice every year to make their cases.
This years challenges are listed here.
Some bars and stores are in crappy neighborhoods. When an establishment is on the edge, police will talk to the owners/managers. They invariably tell them to call the police whenever they see criminal activity inside or outside the establishment. These calls for service are then cited by the police as reasons to object to the renewal of the establishment's license. crafty, eh ?
People tend to gravitate to places of commerce. Think Floyd's barbershop. This proves a double whammy for small stores in poor neighborhoods as the kids tend to congregate around the stores. This is bad for their business but then police and citizens groups cite the unwanted youth as something to blame on the shopkeeper. Once again, he gets damned if he calls the police or if he doesn't.
One of the real joys is hearing owners and police tell completely different stories. One lady said there had been no drug dealing in her bar and no arrests. The police had 4 arrests with court dates pending. One was not actually at the bar but the agreement to the deal was made there. Neighbors complained of large crowds but the owners friend said there was never more than 5 people there.
Some of the owners seem barely socially functional. Some seem very articulate. One claimed to be "recognized" by an "ex-president". Some of the owners/managers seem to be pathological liars.
When a place is on the edge, owners and police/neighborhood groups will work out plans to bring the offending businesses in line with the community. One owner, who had made such an agreement, had not held up his end. The police complained the guy had not hired a police officer for security on weekend evenings. The owner countered that there was no reason since the police were always there on weekend evenings anyway. -hint ?-
In that case, the police said the place was under heavy surveillance but the police had no idea if the owner was picking up litter. ?
A common refrain is the police telling owners to hire security. Not just any security, tho - off duty Cincinnati police officers. Frequently private security or off duty county deputies are not good enough for some reason.
A guy from a community council expressed surprise that a restaurant owner testified in English as he claimed she always told him she spoke no English whenever he tried to talk to her.
While it might be seen as anti-business, I think renewing liquor permits every six months would be worthwhile just for the entertainment value.
Did I mention - no commercials ? It is non stop, edge of the seat excitement as Qualls just keeps the speakers coming.
What's really great is that owners, police and citizen groups all can be yahoos or good guys.
I imagine the meetings are rerun and maybe even on the city's website but Citicable hasn't updated their schedule in months.
One thing that would be a nice addition is a soundtrack. I think that just the addition of an organ player could lend quite a bit more drama to proceedings. I guess an announcer doing background color type commentary could be kinda fun, too.

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