Newsflash: Pub Owner Supports Ability to Shut Down Violent Bars

Jesse Cornett

"Please accept my resignation. I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member." Groucho Marx

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?

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    Jesse, it's great to see a business owner understand that protecting bad operators actually hurts business and doesn't help it, and that it's the bad operators who make regulation necessary.

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    AWESOME POST, Jesse. I hope you continue to write like this from the business owner perspective. Love it.

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    If HB 3295 had been passed in the previous year then Ruben Mata, 32, and father of three may still have been here to raise his children...

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    excellent post, Jesse. glad to see you taking a responsible leadership position on this issue. ORLA may do good for its members, but it's wrong on a lot of very important issues. i'm glad you are standing strong for what you believe in.

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    I can't wait to see your post when the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses) stops by. They make the ORLA seem reasonable.

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      I almost wrote a post in re: NFIB. I didn't renew my membership after the first year due to their FAAAAAAARRRRR-right views on all things business related.

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    It almost seems like these acronym-ridden organizations are legally sanctioned Mafia-type shakedown artists...

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    Hey ,Jesse, Good for you! Those big hair guys from the ORLA are only sensitive to the touch of their wallet. Keep 'em in their place!

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    Pub owners may support the closures, but that's not really important.

    Do people who don't break the law while exercising their lawful right to drink in a pub support the closures?

    The Kotek-Dingfelder legislation would allow cops to penalize law-abiding citizens without any court involvement.

    That's giving the cops too much power in my book.

    It's really about freedom of association, without the intervention of arbitrary police power.

    (And any police enforcement done without the option for legal redress is, by definition, arbitrary.)

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      Um, Tim.... could you explain?

      In what way does this penalize law-abiding citizens? By shutting down their favorite watering hole?

      Are you really arguing that there's an inherent constitutional right to consume beverages at a location of your choosing?

      What am I missing?

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        Um, yes, shutting down their favorite watering hole denies people the right to engage in a lawful activity.

        If you don't like the activity, then persuade the Legislature to outlaw it -- for everyone.

        I'm arguing that there is an inherent constitutional right to engage in lawful activities. That's pretty basic to the law.

        I'm also arguing that I'm unwilling to see the hired guns of a city or state given the power to deny people the right to engage in lawful activity, without a warrant or court order to back it up.

        Once the courts are involved, then it's a fair playing field and the shuttering of the bar can be contested.

        Without court involvement, the decision to shutter comes down to the whims of law enforcement and cannot be contested.

        It's unfair. And looking beyond the "watering hole" to the underlying rights issue of equal application of the law, I think it's unconstitutional.

        (Although I'm no lawyer. I thought the Guantanamo detention center was unconstitutional as well, but it's still open.)

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          I agree with with Tim. If we pass laws that deny due process for safety, we will soon have a police state. Oh wait, we already do. This is just another law to further that situation.

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          No-one is restricting the right of you and your friends to meet and tipple. What's being restricted is the license of the pub-keeper, a license to serve alcohol that is dependent on a large number of conditions, including the licensee's personal background, the location, and serving only non-drunks over 21. If the pub loses it's license, then sorry, you can't go there to tipple. This law allows the police to suspend it pending a license review. Just like they suspend your license when you get caught driving drunk, or close down a rat-infested restaurant.

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