In the weeks leading up to the big arrests by the SPD at Seattle nightclubs, pro-nightclub folks like Tim Hatley and Josh Feit were saying that Seattle had all the laws it needed to go after bad nightclubs. No need to license the clubs, they said.
Then came the “Saturday Night Massacre.”
Now The Seattle Police Department, the Mayor, and others are getting knocked for enforcing the law. Go figure.
Josh will be on Goldy’s show tonight at 7:00pm.
Uh oh… So I’m getting email about how totally unbelievably wrong I am on this. I think it’s good that clubs are scrutinized, but arresting bartenders and doormen in “political” raids is not good policy.
Good points from Paddy Mac in the comments:
Your post also does a great job of ignoring the context. The Mayor has been pushing for vast new powers over nightclubs (in part because the city did a such a chronically poor job when permitting the growth of nightclubs in residential neighborhoods), and then the police just so happen — a total coincidence, really — to delay their arrests until a big sting assists his PR campaign, complete with a show of force utterly inappropriate to the situation.
Luigi Giovanni spews:
[Off topic, thus deleted. -Eds.]
Dennis Savage spews:
Will, I could take your blurt more seriously if I didn’t know that you’d easily be arguing the opposite if the Massacre had inconvenienced you in any way. Though I suppose you’d find a way to blame Metro for it somehow.
Narcissism and psychodrama do not a political position make. Why don’t you go evolve some principles and come back when you’re able to distinguish what’s inside your head from what’s outside your head.
No Metro bus drivers were involved (thank god).
Luigi Giovanni spews:
Go away, Will. Go back under your rock. You’re pathetic.
Daddy Love spews:
Luigi, Dennis, sometimes I think I just don’t know you guys any more.
There does seem to be a difference in the tone of the PI’s earlier article (referenced above) and that of today’s front-page story. The latter points out that the SPD seems to have taken upon itself an enforcement function usually handled by Liquor Board inspectors, and that some of the individuals involved were treated like dangerous fugitives upon turning themselves in within hours of receiving notice of warrants for their arrest–somewhat curious in view of their “crimes” having occurred last month. Then there’s the fact that the timing of “dropping the hammer” comes right before the Council vote on the mayor’s beloved nightclub ordinance.
To some of us who are old enough, this dredges up some unpleasant memories of the widespread payoff system run by Seattle police in the 60’s under the bizarre banner of a “tolerance policy”.
Paddy Mac spews:
This heavy-handed and abusive “law enforcement” (which was blatantly political, as noted above) shows why we don’t need any more laws. Until we can trust our police and politicians to behave like adults, not petulant children, they don’t need any more power. We trust them to use the powers we give them in a responsible manner. By harassing legitimate businesses, the authorities have violated our civic trust. I want our city Council to perform a complete investigation into these abuses, starting with any collaboration between the police and the political operatives in the Mayor’s office. (Part of the report should answer the question, “Should we rescind some of the laws we now have?”) The report should also explain any delay between police observance of lawbreaking, and their raid.
But don’t we expect the police to use a certain level of discretion when enforcing our laws? Whether lawbreaking club employees aren’t arrested on the spot or later on, that’s for the cops to decide, I think anyway.
If the cops told jokes about how many asians they have fucked in a nightclub, would that be on topic, or would you delete that?
Only if Metro bus drivers were involved.
Paddy Mac spews:
“But don’t we expect the police to use a certain level of discretion when enforcing our laws?”
Of course we do, but when that ‘discretion’ just so happens to result in a raid which the Mayor uses as a big political prop, we citizens should demand an investigation.
“Whether lawbreaking club employees aren’t arrested on the spot or later on, that’s for the cops to decide, I think anyway.”
Even if delaying the arrest(s) allows a dangerous situation to fester? I live in a neighborhood famous for nightlife, and I routinely visit another such neighborhood. I pay the police to keep order, not to let a dangerous situation get worse. (Their delay here implies they did not judge any possible danger to have been a serious problem.)
Your post also does a great job of ignoring the context. The Mayor has been pushing for vast new powers over nightclubs (in part because the city did a such a chronically poor job when permitting the growth of nightclubs in residential neighborhoods), and then the police just so happen — a total coincidence, really — to delay their arrests until a big sting assists his PR campaign, complete with a show of force utterly inappropriate to the situation. (See this week’s Stranger.)
I believe that we should yell whenever police power seems to have been used in support of a politician’s agenda. You and I can agree to disagree on that, if you wish, but if you don’t, why write at this blog? SP would seem like a better home for unquestioning support of heavy-handed authoritarianism.
There is a reason they do pat down searches in “hip hop” nightclubs and its not because the bouncers want to feel your Johnson. Its because of the ghetto gang banging element where stabbings and shootings seem to follow this crowd like stink on shit. The scum bags need to be dealt with in the most heavy handed manner possible. The Mayor and Chief of Police are not doing their job if they don’t get tough on nightclubs and their out of control patrons.
The other obvious irony here is that a lot of people voted for Nickels precisely because they were afraid of Mark Sidran doing something like this if he had become mayor.
I’m also inclined to disagree with Paddy Mac over his contention that the city “permitted the growth of nightclubs in residential neighborhoods”. Rather, many of the neighborhoods where there’s traditionally been some club scene or other (Belltown, the south end of Ballard, even SODO and Pioneer Square) have become filled with condo developments. In some cases the business owners are finding that it’s a case of “You can run, but you can’t hide”. A few years back, a friend of mind redeveloped the building on Capitol Hill right across the street from Bad Ju-Ju and the Vogue–after the latter moved there from an increasingly inhospitable First Avenue.
Broadway Joe spews:
While I applaud efforts to control the flow of weapons and minors into nightclubs, this is just a political ploy to make Nickles look good to the voters. The downside of this is the reason why I moved to Reno in the first place. Overregulation of nightclubs makes them go away on their own, without leaving any obvious fingerprints.
I think it’s best summed up in what I told a friend of mine who runs a music/comedy club in Seattle: “Mayor Nickles does not like the nightlife, does not want to boogie.”
Could it be that having driven almost all the strip clubs out of business, SPD vice had to find something to do in order to justify their continued existence?
Do we really need the cops going after strippers and bartenders? I mean, aren’t there any drunk-driving councilpersons, judges, or even fellow coppers(it’s in the PI), that need to be chased down?
Paddy Mac spews:
Dear Council President Licata:
I write to you, in your capacities as Chair of the Public Safety Committee, and as President of the Council. I was very disturbed to read the recent news articles in both The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (“Furious clubs fight ‘political agenda'[;]Many feel raids tied to mayor’s proposal”, last updated on 14 September 2007) and The Stranger (“The Saturday Night Massacre[;]Nightclubs, Claiming Political Harassment, Hit by Undercover Sting”, 12 September 2007). I live on Capitol Hill, and I commute through Pioneer Square, where I sometimes stop for a drink or dinner or my way home from my office at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, where I work as an engineer. (I have no financial interest in any local business establishment.) Nightclubs’ negative effect on public safety, if any, is an important issue for me, and I want it treated in a professional manner by the city’s police and government. Instead, we seem to have highly politicized enforcement of our laws, done to advance the Mayor’s agenda.
I ask for the Council, either in full, or via the appropriate Committee, to investigate the recent ‘sting’ operations against local nightclubs. I ask that the investigation answer the following questions:
1. Was the ‘sting’ operation, and subsequent arrest warrants, influenced by the Mayor’s political agenda?
2. Do currently-existing laws allow for adequate regulation of these businesses?
3. Are the current laws enforced in a straightforward and reasonable manner?
Until these questions are fully answered, I ask the Council to stop work on the Mayor’s proposed new laws for regulation of nightclubs. The possible abuse of current statutes argues against writing any new ones, for obvious reasons. Also, nightclub owners’ input on any new legislation would seem important to the success of said legislation; if the owners now feel harassed and threatened by the police or city government, they may not be of a mind to cooperate with the Council’s efforts.
I voted for Mayor Nickels in 2001, in part because his opponent, then-City Attorney Mark Sidran, had a history of enforcing ‘quality of life’ laws in a manner which I considered abusively inappropriate. In other words, had I wanted sudden raids by heavily-armed police units, I would have voted for Mr. Sidran. He was already being compared to then-Mayor Giuliani of New York, which is my hometown; I loathed the latter’s fascistic love of ‘order’ via violent police operations, and did not wish to see it spread to Seattle.
I also ask that the Council consider that we have too many regulations on local nightclubs, and perhaps we could rescind some of them, especially if the police have recently engaged in politicized enforcement of said laws.
During my daily bicycle commute to Boeing, I bounce along the rutted pavement of Airport Way, just south of downtown, and reflect that perhaps, just perhaps, the city might spend our money on better things than armed police raids of local businesses!
Respectfully and Sincerely Yours,
Dennis Savage spews:
But how can you be sure there were no Metro bus drivers involved unless you searched them for poopy diapers? Or did you?
Still, in terms of the Will Index, where Will Being Delayed During His After-work Commute by 45 Minutes is ohmygawd-10, where are we? Jesuswept-27?