It’s good that Mayor Byron W. Brown is acting forcefully and speedily to shut down bars that create a hazard to their neighborhoods, even if we do have some nagging concerns about vesting that kind of broad authority in any one individual.
Chapter 313 of the City Code allows the mayor or police commissioner to immediately shut down any establishment where “the preservation of peace and good order” is not secured. That standard clearly applied to Mango’z on Forest Avenue, Habibi Sheesha Lounge on Elmwood Avenue and Impulse Lounge on Washington Street. Each was the site of a disturbance that led to shootings.
Brown acted quickly, but not, he said, impulsively. “I am conservative,” he said. “I am cautious. I do like to do my homework. But in all of these cases, we did our homework, and we felt those operations were a danger to public safety, so we shut them down.”
Brown appears to have broad support among members of the Common Council and, given the lack of protests, among the public, as well. Who can blame them? Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen specifically mentioned the horror of the August 2010 shootings at the City Grill, where four people were killed.
There had been no reason to worry such a shooting might occur there, but at bars where previous complaints have been recorded and where shootings occur, prompt action is plainly required. Others who live and work in those neighborhoods deserve that kind of decisiveness. Brown is providing it.
Importantly, the bar owners are not left without recourse. Corporation Counsel Timothy A. Ball said the owners have to produce a plan that will demonstrate to the satisfaction of public officials that they are able to deal with the safety issues. A good place for them to start is by consulting bar owners who aren’t having similar problems: Do what they do.
Brown’s action should also be seen as a last call to other bar owners whose establishments foster unsafe conditions. For the sake of their bank accounts and the neighborhoods where they do business, they should take to heart the hurdles now faced by these three bars and take steps to ensure that they aren’t next.