Volume 16 • Issue 37 | February 13 - 19, 2004


Intelligence inquiry can’t let Bush off hook

President Bush has been forced into setting up an Intelligence commission under increasing pressure, after no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. The president will appoint the commission’s members, who will investigate the “intel” on Iraq’s weapons — the basis for branding Iraq an imminent threat — and whether it was tailored to suit the administration’s agenda.

The commission reportedly won’t release its findings until after the November election. However, Bush and his cabinet members should not be let off the hook, by being allowed until then to claim they can’t discuss the intelligence fiasco because of the ongoing investigation.

There’s no question this is an election issue — and voters have a right to know why they were so misled by the administration on Iraq — and want assurances the same mistakes — or was it deception? — won’t happen again in Korea, Iran and other countries the administration considers “imminent threats.”

Last call for S.L.A.; bar saturation has gotten out of control

Out of frustration that the community’s protests to the State Liquor Authority that the East Village and Lower East Side are over-saturated with bars, lounges and nightclubs have been falling on deaf ears, Community Board 3’s State Liquor Authority Committee has passed a resolution marking a new approach to the problem.

For several years now, Board 3 has put moratoria on certain avenues, streets or blocks where residents have complained that too many liquor licenses are clustered and where the area’s quality of life has suffered as a result from noise, rowdiness, litter and, in the worst instances, violence.

However, the board’s requests for bans on new liquor licenses or expansions of existing liquor licenses in these moratorium areas — such as Avenue A, St. Mark’s Pl., Ludlow and Orchard Sts., to name a few — have not been heeded by the S.L.A., which, unfazed, has continued to dole out new licenses to, it would seem, virtually all comers.

Although the board’s recommendations are only advisory in nature, the board represents the “community” in the S.L.A.’s regulation requiring that the community be notified of liquor license applications.

The new resolution says the existing moratorium designations will be abolished — but that the board will from now on simply not review new applications in the former moratorium areas, as well as other areas it has designated as too liquor-license heavy.

The intent of the committee resolution is to send a defiant message to the S.L.A. over its indifference. It’s likely that C.B. 3’s full board will approve the resolution at its Feb. 24 meeting.

Some would argue, though, that such measures aren’t necessary, that all that is needed is an organized community — albeit one willing to file a lawsuit. For example, in Soho, residents have — after their most recent victory — beaten back a liquor license application four times at 76 Wooster St.

However, in a seriously over-saturated area where there is a constant flood of new applications, such as the Lower East Side and East Village, where residents may not have the same financial resources to litigate, such an approach probably is not feasible. It’s equivalent to a finger in a dike.

The activists are right. It’s now time for our state legislators to step in, particularly Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to try to bring some sanity to this out-of-control situation. Governor Pataki, who appoints the S.L.A. commissioners, wants to overhaul the S.L.A. by abolishing two of its commissioners, leaving one chairperson who would be more accountable. That’s a good start, and a money-saver to boot. But more is needed.

It’s just wrong to let certain neighborhoods become alcohol theme parks. Residents have been pushed — too far. Now they’re fighting back.

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