Last week’s Show & Tell (11/25) is slyly captioned on the Washington City Paper’s Web site as “The politics of dancing—in the right spot—and dancing around a prior conviction at Cada Vez.” But the real politics is the City Paper’s handling of the subject. The paper’s coverage of the hospitality industry is usually about as favorable as balanced reporting will allow. Understandably so. Would the City Paper even be able to exist without this industry’s advertising?
Writer Chris Shott’s leitmotif, superficially appearing to make light of Cada Vez’s general manager’s alien-smuggling conviction and noncompliance with license requirements, while lampooning license opponents, lays before the reader a compelling case against the establishment. Under the guise of describing opponents as a NIMBY “gang of protesters,” by pointing out that they include members of the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, and “a few ad hoc groups of nearby residents,” he in fact burnishes opponents’ credentials. The only thing that might be too much to ask of the City Paper would be for him to cite the history of neighbors’ concerns about Cada Vez’s late-night revelry’s keeping them awake.
Alcohol is a drug in which there is some good and much evil, so establishments serving it need to be more tightly regulated than the city has regulated them in the past. In effect, these establishments, and their cheerleaders at the City Paper, are looking for what amounts to a government subsidy in the form of lax regulation, so others bear the burden of the externalities establishments such as these entail.
The most honest and shrewd move for establishments that push the envelope is to offer to buy at fair market value nearby properties adversely affected by their operations. These establishments could then turn around and sell them, with appropriate forewarning to prospective buyers about proximity to a “rowdy” establishment and stipulations against protesting. Chances are there would be enough night-life-loving buyers that these establishments would come out close to even on the transaction and the City Paper would get more real-estate advertising.