Friday, June 22, 2007

Taurus decision a lot of bull

The Taurus Cafe, described by backers and opponents as either a neighborhood institution or a blight on Newhallville, this week lost its fight for renewal of its liquor license.

I'm not going to comment on the merits of the arguments for a number of reasons. First, I haven't been at the hearing, so everything I know about the pleadings before the state Liquor Control Commission is second-hand. Secondly, David Avigdor, the lawyer for the owners, is a friend and I don't think I could be impartial.

What I will comment on is the form of the decision.

The commission took testimony, the lawyers issued subpoenas, people from both sides dragged themselves up to Hartford. People on both sides conquered fear to testify.

The commission copped out. Instead of basing its decision on the pleadings, instead of ruling on the issues, it decided to use a technicality to deny the renewal. The owner didn't make out the proper paperwork while employing his relatives, not paying his employment taxes.

After all that effort, the parties and the neighborhood deserved a decision that spoke to their fears and concerns, not to the owner's bookkeeping.

The commissioners could have said the place is a bucket of blood and doesn't deserve to be open. Or it could have said the owner wasn't very astute in his relations with the neighbors, but has done all he could to control things. It could have told the city it was doing a public service in opposing the license, or told the city it was meddling where it didn't belong because it wants to gentrify the neighborhood to put it more in line with its plans for the area.

But it didn't. It relied on a technicality. That's why I think the Taurus ruling is a lot of bull.

In the meantime, the two New Havens rock on. The two New Havens. Of course. Go up the hill for two or three blocks from Newhallville and you're in the bucolic Prospect Street-Whitney Avenue area.

New Haven is a group of concentric small neighborhoods. Go a few blocks from the large houses and lawns of Westville and you are in Edgewood or go the other way and you are in the projects.

Those who think their problems are their own are kidding themselves. When people in Edgewood say people from Westville should shut up about the crime along Elm Street because it's none of their business, they are wearing blinders.

Some years ago, a friend who had smuggled refugees out of then-Rhodesia in the trunk of her car, who had climbed Mount Fuji was mugged -- robbed and beaten -- a couple of blocks from the towers of Yale.

New Haven is a group of conjoined islands. We all have to watch out for each other. The folks in Westville have as much a stake in what happens in Newhallville as the residents there do.

Have a great weekend, and for the members of the tribe, good Shabbos.

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