I had an Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA) membership representative pay The Guild Public House a visit a few days before we opened an again this past week. During our first chat, I was noncommittal about joining the group. I wanted to give him a fair shake. While I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to join but I wondered if there were other benefits of joining that maybe I’d missed.
I let him know I thought the association was wrong on Measures 66 & 67, paying servers a subpar wage and keeping lottery commissions too high for the public good just to name a few issue areas, after more than 10 minutes of discussion, I had to get to my next meeting and prompted him to close with the top reasons why I should join. He went straight back to the political advocacy component as the top reason, essentially highlighting why I wouldn’t want to become a member.
If I’m going to affiliate myself with any group that’s active in Salem or on political issues at any level, it won’t be one that advocates against many issues I think are important, whether on a personal or professional level.
This week when the ORLA representative visited me again, I was neither unpleasant nor tentative in explaining why I wouldn’t join. After surprising the representative by citing all of the aforementioned issues, he broke out the big guns: you know there’s a bill that would let the OLCC shut you down if something happens here (gesturing to the sidewalk) even if it’s not your fault? Yes, I know about that bill. What he actually meant was there’s a bill that would allow a local jurisdiction to temporarily shut down bars with repeated reported problems in order to protect public safety.
HB 3295 is an overdue bill. If this had been passed during the last legislative session when first proposed, at least one life may have been saved and that’s enough for me. Despite ORLA’s hyperbole, HB 3295 is sound public policy that will allow local jurisdictions the ability to temporarily shut down problem bars after a major incident long enough to allow OLCC to look at the issue (72 hours). To quote my favorite speech on smart bills up for debate in Salem “good bill, should pass.”
I just don’t understand the pursuit of protecting ones members no matter how irresponsible they may be. Problem bar owners taint all ORLA members and all OLCC licensees. What’s good for society is good for my new industry. The moment we prioritize the needs of any industry over society, both will suffer. I would hope organizationally that ORLA would find a balance to strike on this measure where they can ultimately support it because it’s good for Oregon. I understand it may cost you a few members, but we’re talking about lives here and if you have a member that allows their place to be operated in a manner where violence is tolerated, do you really want them as members?