In an interesting piece of local news, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has called for bars on Madison's State Street to close 90 minutes early on the Saturday of Halloween weekend. The reason given is that the event has ended in violence in the past three years coupled with the fact that the time changes on that Sunday morning at 2:00. This means that, techincally, the bars are open an hour longer.
In the Wisconsin State Journal article, an understandibly flustered Dane County Tavern League says that this is the last straw. After being hit with fines, lawsuits and a ban on smoking, the DCTL is not about to let the mayor do this on what is a big sales night for them; they claim they are desparate for the business.
There are a few things at work here. I can see the mayor's point of wanting to avoid violence (and this is not an exaggeration; fires, fights and mayhem cost businesses and the city hundreds of thousands of dollars). Apart from this concern, I have trouble seeing how the mayor can do this with a clear head (no pun intended).
These tavern owners, and I have spoken personally to a few, say that their business is suffering from the smoking ban as well as a so-so local economy and a simple change in drinking habits. Read this article in The Capital Times for more information and background. They have laid people off and some are even talking about shutting their doors for good.
How should this problem be dealt with? It seems that there needs to be some coordination between the government and business owners so that all can benefit and the rioting can be averted. Step up police patrols; a few extra boots on the ground may seem like passing on the costs of the irresponsible to the tax payers, but it may be a good deal in the long term when violence is quelled.
For their part, the tavern owners must more stringently enforce I.D. laws. Unfortunately, there are no state laws regarding serving those who appear intoxicated nor are there dram shop laws in Wisconsin. While it is hard to turn away a paying customer, the owners of taverns and bars must work with the authorities and turn the already-overserved away. A simple, legal way is to invoke the right of any business owner to refuse service to anyone and if they refuse to leave, have them arrested for trespassing (kinda like they do it in Vegas).
Now, for more wishful thinking, it would be nice if college students could excercise some control or simply drink at home with friends (which is what I did). It seems that they cannot do this, and there may be deeper factors at play. It seems that these people, still young and full of fight, need control from elsewhere. Little do they know that if they minded their intake, none of this would be necessary.
As for me, I will stay at home, get some refreshing beverages and answer my door for the kiddies. A fun game for just such an occasion. Gather your friends on Halloween and have a good quantity of spirits on hand. Take turns answering the door and consume for each trick-or-treater that comes on your turn. Safe, fun, topical and no riots.
Or, if all else fails, stay home amateurs and leave the drinking to the professionals.
"Check the Box Sunday"
5 weeks ago