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Friday, September 14, 2007

Update: Club Crackdown

posted by on September 14 at 11:13 AM

The Seattle Nightlife and Music Association, the lobbying organization for Seattle’s clubs, met at J&M Cafe in Pioneer Square yesterday afternoon. It was a meeting to discuss the “Saturday Night Massacre,” as club workers are now calling the SPD’s recent undercover sting where 17 bar workers were hauled off to jail (and 28 warrants issued) for failure to appear after getting warrants for violations like serving a minor and admitting a minor.

68 people showed up to the meeting, including many of the workers who were arrested on Saturday night.

The point of the meeting, according to Seattle NMA’s lobbyist Tim Hatley, was to hear everybody’s stories and to connect workers with lawyers.

What came to light at the meeting was this: People felt the arrests were unfair because the warrants—mailed to workers’ homes—didn’t show up at their homes until Friday or Saturday. (You can only appear Monday through Friday.) The implication being: The SPD wanted to be able to make a show of the Saturday night arrests at the clubs as a PR stunt on behalf of the mayor.

People also felt unduly abused because the sting officers got workers’ home addresses by showing up at the clubs and pretending they were working on a child predator case. They’d show the bar worker a photo—saying they thought the suspect might be in the bar—and then they’d get the worker’s contact info and address in the ruse that they might need to contact the worker to help them bust the predator.

All this aside, the workers were still caught, according to the SPD, serving minors.

The alarming gun charges—the city’s smoking gun, if you will—are another story that seems to be falling apart: Tabella, the one club facing gun charges, says it let the gun owners in because they recognized the gun owners as cops. Tommy’s was also slammed in the press for allowing a gun in, but as I reported already, the press failed to read the police report. No gun got in at Tommy’s.

But ultimately, if bar workers are found guilty of allowing minors into clubs, the sting simply proves what opponents of the Mayor’s push for a club license—like the SNMA—have been arguing all along: The rules already exist to hold clubs accountable; there’s no need to give the mayor’s office the sole authority to shut down a club—which is what the licensing proposal now pending before council would do.

The city argues that they need a licensing scheme because they currently can’t hold the club accountable, they can only hold workers accountable. But that’s not true. Violations like the ones the SPD uncovered through their sting can be used as evidence to the state liquor control board to fine clubs and revoke their licenses.

The council is voting on the license proposal on Monday. (Nice timing with that sting. Pretty expensive campaign move by the SPD on behalf of the mayor.)

The vote count is reportedly: 2 strongly against the license (Peter Steinbrueck, Richard McIver); 2 leaning against the license (Tom Rasmussen, and Jean Godden); 3 for the license (Jan Drago, Sally Clark, and David Della); and 2 unsure (Nick Licata and Richard Conlin.)

Licata is floating amended legislation that attempts to appease the clubs by giving less power to the mayor’s office and more power to a commission made up of neighbors, clubs, and SPD when it comes to granting licenses and revoking them. However, Hatley reports that Licata’s legislation doesn’t go far enough to water down the mayor’s ultimate authority to shut down clubs in his membership’s opinion.

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This week, a new officer from the Liquor Control Board has been visiting bars in Capitol Hill. He identifies himself, asks questions and observes the bartenders and patrons for potential violations. Has any one else seen him at their bar?

Posted by WordOnTheStreet | September 14, 2007 11:17 AM

The mayor is a dick

Posted by monkey | September 14, 2007 11:25 AM

This city has always depended on its nightclubs and sketchy-sketch night businesses to keep its economy afloat. See: Bad bad Madame Lou Graham, the baddest madame in the whole damn town, who loaned money to her formerly-prosperous clients after the Great Fire of 1889 to help them rebuild. It's probably best not to isolate and embitter the Sketchy-sketches TOO much, lest we need their money again.

Not saying we need to go back to the days when Syph ruled the streets... just considering the fact that sometimes virtue is overrated, and that every city's economy is a delicate precariously balanced system. Much like a vagina.

And that is my ill-thought-through post of the day.

Posted by Katelyn | September 14, 2007 11:37 AM

I'm paranoid. The Capitol Club and BarCa have nixed their smoking sections. The new officers are out to get me! Trying to keep me on the go to feed an addiction!

For Heather McHughe

On an evening, for example, when the naive tourist has retired from our economic horrors, a master's hand awakens the meadow's le clavecin; they are playing cards at the bottom of the pond, mirror conjuring up favorites and queens; there are saints, veils, threads of harmony, and legendary chromatisms in the setting sun. He shudders as the hunts and hordes go by. Comedy drips on the grass stages. And the distress of the poor and of the weak on those stupid planes! Before his slave's vision, Germany goes scaffolding toward moons; Tartar deserts light up; ancient revolts ferment in the center of the Celestial Empire; over stairways and les fauteuils of rock, a little world, wan and flat, Africa and Occidents, will be erected. Then a ballet of familiar seas and nights, worthless chemistry and impossible melodies. The same bourgeois magic wherever the mail-train sets you down. Even the most elementary physicist feels that it is no longer possible to submit to this personal atmosphere, fog of physical remorse, which to acknowledge is already an affliction. No! The moment of the seething cauldron, of seas removed, of subterranean conflagrations, of the planet swept away, and the consequent exterminations, certitudes indicated with so little malice by the Bible and by the Nornes and for which serious persons should be on the alert. Yet there will be nothing legendary about it.

-Arthur ram-Bo

Posted by June Bee | September 14, 2007 11:38 AM

Rumor is this "sting" cost several hundred to seven hundred thousand dollars. Even if it cost $100,000, it's an amazing amount for the City to spend on a PR move.

Licata's ammendements don't amount to anything. Under the new license a venue could be closed for one violent offense occurring on premise. So one fight could close a venue. Forget about bar owners calling 911 in an emergency, such a call could result in a venue being closed. And all authority to oversee this scheme rests solely with the Mayor's office. Licata's amendments only require that the nightlife "advisory board" be allowed to make comments. Whoop-dee-doo.

Council members supporting the license are being spineless. (on the flip side - props to McIver and Steinbrueck - wish Peter would run for Mayor!)

The council now has a chance to stand up to the Mayor and the abuse of power and waste of money by the City Attorney and SPD. Let's see how many of them can think for themselves and do what's right.

Please let them know how you feel by writing them at the following emails:

Sally Clark -
Richard Conlin -
David Della -
Jan Drago -
Jean Godden -
Nick Licata -
Richard McIver -
Tom Rasmussen -
Peter Steinbrueck -

Posted by Meinert | September 14, 2007 11:49 AM

I find it so disconcerting that they acquired their home addresses in that manner. Yikes.

Posted by Lake | September 14, 2007 11:59 AM

This was money well spent. What else are would they use it for? AWV? Psh. Not until it kills 100,000 people.

The true threat remains! Nightclubs! Debauchery! Immoral behavior! Our families! Our children! Heaven help us! Matt Damon!

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 14, 2007 12:06 PM

Scratch the 'are'. And add 'Helen Hunt!' Fuck!

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 14, 2007 12:07 PM

I saw him on Wednesday night at the Rosebud. The bartender made him show him his id, and acted all suspicious toward him. It was funny.

Then the enforcer checked my roommates id, to make sure the bartender had.

I was drunk and was lippy with him, but he ignored me.

Posted by Tizzle | September 14, 2007 12:11 PM

i love that on an issue that seems to be of paramount importance to the stranger (i.e. nightclub regulations), they chose to endorse the opponent of jean godden, who is clearly on their side on this one.

nice work, guys. way to undercut a councilmember who is taking a principled stand on behalf of you and your advertisers (and stand up to the mayor, no less) despite having absolutely nothing politically to gain (i'm going to go out on a limb, but i assume the young patrons of these clubs do not have much electoral clout).

Posted by xiu xiu | September 14, 2007 12:14 PM

Meinert -- the email address for Jan Drago bounced as "unused." Just fyi.

Posted by Katelyn | September 14, 2007 12:17 PM

Another reason not to vote for David Della.

Posted by Alcina | September 14, 2007 12:34 PM


In our endorsement interviews Szwaja was excellent on the license issue. Godden, as I Slogged, is "leaning" against the license, but she's not where Steinbrueck and McIver (and frankly, Joe Szwaja) are on the issue.

Meanwhile, Szwaja is more in synch with our ed board on a long list of other issues.

I'm glad Jean Godden may vote the right way on this as she has on other issues like the four foot rule.

Posted by Josh Feit | September 14, 2007 12:37 PM

Above - vaginas are delicate?? - lets talk childbirth.

Of course, yours is the most delicate and sweet - possibly should be sprinkled with gold dust daily.

Anus or Vagina - solid muscle, can take lots of wear and tear.

Posted by Freddy | September 14, 2007 12:46 PM

Josh - you folks just like wife beaters.

Jean Godden is an old party animal - likes to have a few cocktails now and then.

And understands the money side of life. As in jobs, tax flow, and bringing money / people to the city every weekend, big time.

The lobby arm of the clubs should close in on Jean.

Posted by HIMBO | September 14, 2007 12:53 PM

@14 Yes I use the Arm&Hammer brand of gold dust.

I was referring to the vaginal bacterial ecosystem, which IS delicate. Not the smooth muscle, which is pretty resilient. Actually the more I think about it, the more apt this analogy is.

Seattle = a giant vagina.

Posted by Katelyn | September 14, 2007 1:02 PM

@ 13


Joe is not, and will never be, on the city council (did you see the primary results?). So his views are pretty irrelevant to what happens. I'm sure Keith Scully had great views, too.

Jean Godden, however, is actually on the City Council. And will be serving another 4 years. I think it is just dumb of your people to alienate a progressive councilmember who will be a potential ally of yours on important issues like this over the next 5 years. If you like having councilmembers (e.g. Della) ignore you, then by all means keep up the good work of going after Jean Godden.

Posted by xiu xiu | September 14, 2007 1:07 PM

#9: And the co-owner of the Rosebud was running for (and failed to win City Council Pos. 1 in the primary and he is against the Night Club Ordinance.

Posted by WordOnTheStreet | September 14, 2007 1:13 PM

Mayor Nickels has a pattern of this type of behavior. If you look back a few months ago, you'll remember the 'stings' at Rick's. Hmmm, and didn't those occur a mere or so before the vote (about cabaret clubs) went to vote before Council?

Back in 2006, Steinbrueck kicked Nickels' legislation regarding cabarets back to the Planning Commision for further study: the mayor wanted a designated zone to 'protect the neighborhoods' from such unsavory activity. The Planning Commission found that Mayor Nickels did NOT present a compelling case that warranted a designated zone for future clubs so they did not support a zone.

The sting operations the mayor conducted then, and now, are to build (fabricate) a case that these types of legislation are needed.

Also, are the increase in officers that so many neighborhoods advocated for going to be used for future stings, or will those officers actually be working to make Seattle a bit safer?

SeattleNMA, start grooming a candiate for Mayor now.

Posted by SP | September 14, 2007 1:19 PM

oh, and josh,

mr. szwaja is also apparently a 9/11 truther:

but maybe that's just another issue that the stranger ed board and he agreed on... :)

Posted by xiu xiu | September 14, 2007 1:29 PM

@12, agreed. And Tim Burgess is opposed to the licensing proposal. As proved (proven?) by the sting itself, existing regulations are plenty adequate.

Posted by fixo | September 14, 2007 1:53 PM

those tactics are hideous.

Posted by infrquent | September 14, 2007 2:43 PM


hah, hah, hah, had - had- had

Buddy you been had.

Timmy Burgess, " one of our own", is an EX COP - shit he would have been in on the command planning of the whole thing.

Such drivel from the Burgess people, can they really be so rank virgin about people and politics?

Posted by Freddy | September 14, 2007 2:49 PM

I emailed the members of the council about this proposal, and I just want to publicly give props to Richard McIver for emailing me a personal response within a few hours. Props, Mr. McIver.

Posted by Katelyn | September 14, 2007 4:19 PM

Katelyn - that's an automated response from McIver, but a good one nonetheless. He is one of only two council members who are worried about how this license could effect minority owned businesses. Anyone around for the Sidran years knows this will happen if the City is empowered to randomly pull licenses. I wish Conlin, Licata and Clark understood such concerns.

Everyone should be putting pressure on Conlin and Licata, who seem to be swaying out there on this one, their votes will probably be what determines the outcome.

And certainly, the nightlife community should be watching Della on this as well. He keeps trying to run as a progressive, but a vote for this license is anything but. Burgess for sure has come out solidly against it. If Della votes for this thing, Burgess is definitely going to get my support. Especially after Della has told me directly and recently that he opposes a license. Let's see if he's a man of his word or not.

Posted by Meinert | September 15, 2007 9:03 AM

This is all a plan to put more condos in and get rid of anything close to a nightlife in Seattle.Its all going to backfire and the city will lose what was a very vibrant nightculture. Every city has some problems why not work with the clubs instead of being against them. Greg Nickels is shooting himself and seattle in the foot.

Posted by doctor snakees | September 15, 2007 12:53 PM

Meinert makes a good point about McIver and Steinbrueck standing up for what is right on this issue. Let’s not forget that Peter is leaving and we need to keep his progessive vote on the council. Venus has also stated that she is against the license and believes the city already has the tools it needs. Her opponent, the faux-progessive Bruce Harrell, is for the license and less police accountability.

Posted by APIgrrl | September 15, 2007 5:10 PM

Well at least you have to give them that it beats trying to stop real crime in Seattle. Seriously folks..let's time let's elect a mayor who isn't a total jerk. I wonder if Tim Hatley would be interested in running...

Posted by Mud Baby | September 15, 2007 5:18 PM

greg nichols, you made the choice seattle,you have the most screwed view on liberal politics next to whitepridedaho and utah, come back east all midwesterners and 1st coasters let the 2nd coast drop into the sea with there fake ideas and high prices if i had the money i would turn seattle into one huge fish processing facilty gimme a break your are all doomed hahahaha!!!!!!!! i'm laughing as i go to the party store no state booze stores for me and you know what? new years eve, bars open as long as bar owners want! COME TO WISCONSIN

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