Kudos for your two-week exposé of lax liquor licensing by the D.C. government, first recounting another tragic murder near Club U, then the overpacking at Smith Point (Show & Tell, 3/4, 3/11). I suspect it’s but the tip of the iceberg.

Our experiences here in the U Street corridor reveal that liquor licensing in D.C. is a bad joke, basically fostering an “anything goes” approach that leaves peaceful, law-abiding citizens pretty much shut out. It took three murders and countless acts of violence to finally suspend Club U; we’ll see if it stays closed. Between Friends was allowed to reopen despite a triple stabbing/murder and repeated violence. (It eventually closed down.) Cafe Collage on residential T Street is planning to morph into a bar; residents are doing what they can to stop it.

It sucks that all the great night-life destinations are tarred by these ugly feathers. I’ll be at 9:30 Club tonight, Halos Tuesday, and Nation next weekend. These are but a few of the good guys. Why don’t we get tough with the bad?

D.C. liquor licensing suffers from problems on both ends of the spectrum: The laws themselves are lax, basically forcing citizens to challenge the licenses to put any real teeth in them. Then the enforcement is weak, again putting citizens to work. While there is reason to believe that reforms may be under way, they are probably inadequate and could use a little sunshine to grow.

There may be one hell of a story waiting to be told by aggressive journalists willing to dig deeper into liquor licensing in D.C. For the sake of the rest of us, I hope you will find out.

Shaw

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