- In the past, I stood against the proposed, but defeated pouring tax that former mayor, Tom Murphy, D, and former city councilman, Gene Ricciardi, D, wanted to give to the city. There was a serious threat for extra charges for each drink served in a bar. This threat was defeated after a lot of quick organizing and championed by the bar owners. The tax would have hurt the flow of business in the city. The tax would have made the city less competitive with those in the suburban areas. The tax would have hurt employment opportunities in the city too.
- In the past, I was against the buy-out of bars with URA money so as to shut them down. The Beechview section of Pittsburgh had a few bad bars. Rather than use enforcement, the city spent a lot of money to acquire the bars and shut them. The city has a responsibility to protect its citizens, but no duty to own property and buy-out businesses. The re-development efforts are really taking away from one and giving to another, much like eminent domain. This is not the role of a municipal government.
- Judy Gyda of Mayor Tom Murphy's Administration helped to drive that plan. The plan died. Nonprofit organizations formed, but they were not an authority nor democratic. Rather, the plan was more about corporate welfare but on a smaller scale.
Conventional wisdom say when a bar becomes a danger, authorities enter and shut down the bar and force everyone outside. This heavy handed move pushes the problem onto the sidewalk and streets that surround the bar. The people in the bar who may not be able to find their friends, control their gear, use the bathroom, have lost their music, and have been forced to depart -- due to no fault of their own, often go to the streets and cause more trouble. Dozens of officers are needed to handle the crowds on a multi-block area.
- City Councilman Jim Motznik lead the crafting of these ordinances a few years ago.
- When a bar becomes dangerous, I've proposed different shut-down measures and methods. These statements on how to better think again were offered after a serious set of accidents occured around the nation. In one instance, a band was playing to a packed house and on-stage fireworks caught a curtin on fire causing a massive exodus and people got burned, smoked as well as trampled. An Oakland bar, up a few flights of stairs, also had some problems due to crowds.
A more civil shut-down routine should include:
- Stop selling all beer and alchohol.
- Stop music.
- Turn lights on.
- Continue to sell food, soda, coffee.
- Continue to allow for use of the toilet facilities.
- Do not allow people to enter the bar until the bars capacity can easily handle those entering.
- Allow people to exit the bar at their leisure.
- When the LCB (Liquor Control Board) shuts down a bar, a penalty comes along with the big orange sign posted on the doors of the bar. The LCB suspends the bar's license so as to stop the sale of alchohol. Then, the bar is closed. Rather, a better solution and stiffer penalty for the bar owners and neighbors would be to force the bar to remain open and operate with the bar's normal schedule and hours of operation, but to not permit the sale of anything other than soda and food. Rather than a shut-down, force the bar to go dry and remain open.
- The duration of the penalty for the bar as a dry-establishment should be increased as well.