Archive for Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Editorial: No magic answer

Does closing a problem nightclub solve the problem or simply move it elsewhere?

May 29, 2013


Forcing a troublesome nightclub to close seems an obvious way to eliminate all the disruptions and violence associated with that club. But does that action solve the problem or simply move it somewhere else?

At least one city commissioner recently supported revoking the liquor license for Club Magic, 804 W. 24th St., after a shooting victim ran his car into a police car near the club’s parking lot. The shooting occurred several blocks away, but it happened on the same night that security guards disarmed a man who was brandishing a gun at the bar. Even though it’s unclear whether the club was connected to the shooting incident, it was a little too much negative attention for local officials to ignore.

That was especially true because Club Magic is only the latest of a string of clubs at the location, including several that were the site of violent attacks and license revocation actions. The current owner took over the club about a year ago and says he is trying to make changes that will make Club Magic safer and more attractive to a broad clientele.

The new owner probably deserves a chance to reform the club, but it’s tricky to know how long to give someone to make meaningful changes. Club Magic is looking at a variety of strategies, such as closing the club earlier, not allowing patrons under 21 in the door and upgrading its security force. The new management also is considering changing the type of music played at Club Magic and get away from the hip-hop and rap acts that some observers say may attract a rowdy, angry crowd.

Liquor licenses are issued by the state, but city officials can recommend that a license be revoked for a troublesome club. There certainly are cases — Lawrence has had several in recent years — in which that action is warranted. But, then what? It seems unlikely that the people causing the trouble, whether they come from Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City or elsewhere, are simply going to stay home and watch TV. They’re going to find another club at which to congregate.

Closing troublesome clubs is sort of like playing “Whac-A-Mole.” You pound down one problem venue just to see the same problem pop up somewhere else.

Perhaps the most effective strategy is strong, simple law enforcement. Maybe Lawrence officers could offer to pitch in and help a club check IDs and maybe look for outstanding warrants while they’re at it. It’s true that such activity takes officers away from other duties, but it could have a significant effect on community safety. It also might do more to deter violence at local clubs than simply closing one club and allowing its troublesome patrons to move somewhere else.

Lawrence is a college town, and as such, probably has more nightclubs than many cities of similar size. That doesn’t mean the city should tolerate lax enforcement related to state liquor laws or violent incidents. Closing Club Magic may be the best action, but city officials shouldn’t assume that action alone will eliminate the problem.


uncleandyt 5 years ago

First, this sounds like someone, once again, got shot with a gun. How are we to know whether the shooter was a good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun, or a bad guy, who in turn, may new-logically demonstrate the need for more guns on our streets?? There should be gun shops next to every bar? More guns is probably the answer. But, Let's focus on the music.

elliottaw 5 years ago

You got a little off topic there, I agree more guns is not a cure however this is about something else. Nothing good happens after midnight.

Tyson Travis 5 years ago

I say give the new owner a chance, there's no indication that the shooting a few blocks away had anything to do with Club Magic, even though the victim was trying to return to the area for first aid. My guess is a drug deal gone bad, perhaps initiated at the club, then it went south later at the intended conclusion. Perhaps the LPD should consider placing a uniformed officer with cruiser at the premises, he doesn't even have to assist with ID checks, but can easily respond to a problem as well as deter the gangsta elements who may want to hang out. A little preventive medicine early on may prevent later more serious incidents, and the officer can easily speed to areas where other incidents have taken place, such as 24th and Ousdahl, etc. Who knows, the owner may respond with free food for the officer or a donation to a favorite police charity.

dd0031 5 years ago

The author of this editorial seems to assume that:

Closing down Club Magic will result in another club, with the same clientele, opening in a different location.

is itself reason to not close down the club. But even if we accept that this is true, for which essentially no evidence has been provided other than speculation, there remain reasons to close the club. First, even if a similar club opened in a different location, the current location of the club renders it especially undesirable, given that it is essentially in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It would seem sensible to say that nightclubs wishing to operate in or nearby residential neighborhoods need to pass enhanced scrutiny (which would allow non-problem clubs to remain open). Were they to open up in a different location, but a safer location for locals (say, nearer to 33rd and Iowa, or something like that), this would be more desirable than a location so near residentially zoned neighborhoods. Second, even if it were the case that a similar club would open up in a different residential neighborhood, why should the residents of this particular neighborhood be forced, in perpetuity, to bear the burden of this club's existence in their neighborhood, which seems (clearly) to generate dangerous conditions, lower property values, and all the rest? It seems a principle of basic fairness that when undesirable conditions exist and cannot be eliminated, the burden should be, as much as possible, shared. This warrants closing down the club even if it would reopen in another neighborhood with the same dangerous conditions. Which, as I write it, seems so implausible as to simply be laughable.

formerfarmer 5 years ago

Haven't lived in Lawrence long, have you.

bigpfromlv 5 years ago

The shooting was a domestic dispute between a young lady, and her boy friend. The female in question, followed her boy friend from the club after being asked to leave. Apparently he (the boyfriend) pulled his vehicle over and they get into an argument "hince the report of a woman screaming in the original artical" "and the arrest of the perpatrataor for domestic assult" after pulling over his vehicle he reportedly slapped the young woman. In doing so the young womans brothers begin to beat the boyfriend up. The boyfriends passenger gets involved with altercation pulls a weapon out and shoots the brothers "the shooting victims" this is what happened the night of the shooting. Domestic violence.

bad_dog 5 years ago

Regardless of the origin, why was one of the victims returning to the club for "help"? I wonder what kind of "help" he sought at the club. Wouldn't calling 911 suffice? I hear they'll even send an ambulance loaded with first responders (and "50") right to your location to give you a ride. Perhaps the police were the last persons the victim wanted to solicit "help" from...

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