Nothing Good Ever Happens after 5:30 PM

Tuesday night the Erie County Legislature held a public hearing on the pressing issue of rolling back bar closing times from 4 AM to 2 AM.  It was a packed meeting, and people passionate about the issue spoke both for and against the proposal, which appears to have little support in the legislature. Majority leader Joseph Lorigo (C – W. Seneca) live-tweeted the whole thing, (I consolidated the whole timeline here), and added in some commentary that underscored his opposition to the move.

The popular themes among the speakers included, “quality of life”, “nothing good ever happens after 2am”, “layoffs”, and “interference with private business”. I tried to boil it down to emojis, as a “shorter” post, as I’m wont to do.

Developer and restaurateur Mark Croce’s energetic appearance on WBEN’s morning news the following day sounded belligerent and odd, but his nemesis  – elected public official and member of the Buffalo Board of Education Carl Paladino – made some absolutely ludicrous arguments. Paladino is also on the board of downtown’s Buffalo Place improvement district and was, until 2014, a director on the board of the developer-run Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps. I love to hear these old, rich men hate each other.

Paladino’s remarks echoed what he wrote a few weeks ago, arguing in favor of a 2AM closing time, stating,

In Toronto bars close at 1:00  AM. We know it as a clean and wonderful place to visit with a vibrant and thriving bar and restaurant scene.  People spend the same number of hours recreating but just go out and come home earlier and get up earlier the next day.  They have learned how to make everyday count in their lives. Do we think of New York City, New Orleans and Las Vegas the same way?

No. Toronto bars close at 2 AM. Toronto also has a thriving after-hours club scene. Toronto’s tourism agency promotes this fact on its website. In fact, there is a movement to extend Toronto’s closing time to 4 AM. The argument goes, “To be a world-class city, Toronto needs world-class nightlife.

I don’t understand the juxtaposition of Toronto versus New York, New Orleans, and Las Vegas. Toronto is, I guess, “cleaner” than its American counterparts? All three of the American cities Paladino cites enjoy “vibrant and thriving bar and restaurant” scenes, and are among the most popular tourist destinations in the country, meaning someone finds them “wonderful” if not “clean”. Is he saying that New Yorkers and New Orleanians don’t “make everyday count in their lives”? Paladino’s argument here is invalid and false.

However, if a tea party guy perceives our social democratic neighbor’s largest city as better than America’s own party cities, then perhaps Paladino is “feeling the Bern”. 

Does the greed driven parasite preying on our community, Mark Croce, want the hours moved back?  No.

Do the mayor, the Common Council or County Executive want the hours moved back?  We don’t know.

How does the community feel?  One professional poll shows 69% of the community wants the rollback.

Note the Croce name-check. How is Croce a “greed driven parasite preying on our community” any more or less than any other downtown developer? The argument in Toronto to extend closing time to 4AM goes like this, “The petition leans on the idea of Toronto’s (and Ontario’s and Canada’s) perceived nanny state tactics. “Adults should be treated like adults,” reads the website. “Torontonians of or above legal drinking age should be free to enjoy their libation later into the night.”

Nanny state. Treating adults like adults. I thought conservatives and Republicans hated nanny state New York?

In the County Legislature, 4 of the 11, namely Lorigo, Rath, Dixon and Burke say absolutely not.  Morton and Mills said they are a firm yes and the others are willing to listen to the citizens and professionals at a public hearing before committing.  Do our legislators have the political courage to implement a rollback?

In what way is this a political issue? Morton and Mills are just as Republican as Rath. Dixon is a registered Independent, and Lorigo is a registered Conservative, and both caucus with the Republicans. South Buffalo’s Pat Burke is the only Democrat whose name Paladino deigns to check. He must like Burke, and apart from giving a number, can’t even be bothered to acknowledge the existence of the remaining Democrats – people who conservatives might otherwise expect to support expansion of New York’s own “nanny state”. They include women who represent Erie County’s poorest and most vulnerable communities. This includes the people who represent the area’s largest concentrations of minority residents; African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, and refugees.

What does Paladino’s omission of Barbara Miller-Williams, Betty Jean Grant, Peter Savage – not to mention Kevin Hardwick – tell us? What conclusions do you draw?

Carl “temperance” Paladino is a “repeal the SAFE Act” guy. He believes, among other things, that restrictions on gun ownership won’t address the problem of gun violence. Sort of like how drinking restrictions won’t address the problem of alcohol consumption and related societal ills?

The representative business leadership group, Buffalo Place, Inc., passed a resolution favoring the rollback as a necessary intrusion on the few bar business owners who disagree because it so obviously a major part of the cultural problem that has ripped at the family fabric, caused unimaginable societal pain and virtually destroyed the normal maturing process of so many young people.

Whoa, there. Is it a “political” issue, or is it a societal/morality issue? Is this about party politics or the “maturing process” of 21 year-olds? Remember: the nanny state dictates that you’re not even allowed to drink legally until you’re 21 years of age.  No other western Democracy in the world has such a high drinking age, and we still treat alcohol and sex like we did when people walked around dirt roads with buckles on their hats.

The other countries that limit alcohol to people 21 and over include, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Solomon Islands, and India.

In fact, binge drinking has become a much larger problem domestically since the mid-1980s change from 18 to 21. Prohibiting something doesn’t make it go away. It only criminalizes otherwise normal behavior:  “When it is legal for an 18-year-old to drive, marry or serve in the military but illegal for him or her to drink a beer, the illogic of the situation is patent. As a result, the overwhelming response of young people has been, not compliance, but contempt for the law. By outlawing moderate use of alcohol in appropriate social contexts and with adult oversight, we have driven more drinking underground, where it has taken the very dangerous form of ‘pre-gaming.’ The ‘under-age’ drinker, no longer permitted the occasional beer during a dance party, is now more likely to chug high-octane alcohol in dangerous quantities before heading off to that party. As a result, alcohol use has become more, not less, dangerous.

Law enforcement says that nothing good happens after 2:00AM. Parents, educators and anyone with common sense recognize this as truth or learned it from experience.  Except for Mark Croce and a few other quick buck, in and out of business, bar owners, responsible bar and restaurant owners will say that after 2:00AM they deal with loser drunks and drug addicts preying on good young people who have told their parents that all of their friends are out so they must be out.  Is it good for a young person to be conditioned to getting out of bed at 3:00 in the afternoon on weekends?  Does it help the maturing process, the desire to achieve.

Is it a cause of domestic distress or violence.  Is it a breeding ground for the incessant drug culture?

What an intellectually lazy slippery slope argument. Going out drinking with your friends as a gateway to “drug culture” is so facile. You’re more likely to drunkenly stumble into Jim’s Steakout for a fix of fried meat and carbohydrates than to stick a needle in your arm. Rolling back closing times isn’t going to address any of this. It’s not going to end “domestic distress or violence”, nor will it affect the “drug culture”.

Again – you can’t drink legally until you’re 21 years old. You become an adult at the age of 18 for almost everything else, including signing contracts and going into the military  – dying for your country. If you’re 21 and you go out drinking until 3AM, under what circumstances are you discussing that fact with your parents, exactly? Who are these 21 year-olds in Buffalo still living at home with mom and dad, discussing their comings and goings and worrying about the “maturing process”?

I detect that there is a personal angle to all this for Mr. Paladino – an issue he won’t confront head-on.

We have all witnessed or suffered the horrible pain inflicted on so many families in our community by the current opiate drug epidemic not only in Buffalo, but throughout America.  In 2015 in Erie County, over 200 people died as a result of heroin overdose. Over 600 more were saved by police with Narcan. Others, unable to kick the habit or to deal with the guilt created by the pain they brought their families, committed suicide.  Others have stolen all the family valuables to support their habit or cost their parents their savings spent on rehab.  The scourge has ruined the lives and potential of so many people.

Are you aware of a single piece of evidence to link a 4AM bar closing time (versus a 2AM bar closing time) to the current heroin epidemic? I’m not.

Connect the dots.  Isn’t it better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.  Rolling back the bar closing time will not solve the drug problem but it will bring awareness and jump start an effort to address the culture that is so destructive to our community.

Non-sequiturs everywhere. Here you have a tea party conservative advocating for stricter nanny state regulations on the hospitality industry in Buffalo. I don’t care either way what they do because it doesn’t affect me, but to see this creep spread lies and silly, hypocritical moral arguments about heroin and family values is simply ridiculous.

Carl Paladino has no standing whatsoever to lecture the community on morality. Something about glass houses and rocks comes to mind.

If you really want to discuss people’s behavior, the quality of life, community standards, and how late-night drinking is a gateway to drugs and immorality, then consider Paladino’s own behavior:

Presumably, an earlier call time might also protect Buffalo females from elderly male bar patrons demanding to see their “pussy”, or calling them a “fucking dyke”.

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