Bar owners, city officials fiddle while South Side burns


February 21, 2012

In ancient Rome, it was Nero who fiddled while the city burned. In South Side, it's the bar owners and city officials who ignore the obvious and talk, talk, talk about the increasing number of problems in our once-safe and growing city neighborhood.

Except for Bruce Kraus, how many of them live in South Side? How many have had their properties urinated on or defaced? How many are widows, frightened in the middle of the night by drunken young men pounding on the door, and disgusted by the debris left behind, including beer cans and underwear?

How many have had outside plants and planters destroyed or stolen? How many have known of sexual assaults right outside their apartment in the SouthSide Works area? And now, shootings!

The list of concerns goes on and on. And, so far, all we hear is talk.

This is not a complex problem. The neighborhood has gotten worse as the number of bars has increased and law enforcement has diminished. The euphemism "entertainment district" is a joke. It's all about the money.

The more people drink, the greater the problems, and the more money the bar owners make. People who know about high-risk use of alcohol know that impairment begins with the first drink. After a few drinks, good judgment is gone.

If the bar owners are serious about acting in good faith, they would be talking about limiting the number of drinks their customers would be served. (We can almost hear the laughter.)

When we moved here 12 years ago, this was a great place to live: good restaurants that didn't rely on alcohol sales, interesting little shops, more art galleries, the Rex Theater with its good quality alternative films, etc. We were not afraid to walk alone at night, and we could go to Carson Street without having to make our way through crowds of inebriated people blocking the sidewalk.

One of our worst experiences was a Saturday evening, when we noticed on the corner of Carson and 16th St. two little girls begging. One strummed a toy guitar; the younger one sat on the ground. Their cardboard sign, obviously written by an adult, said, "I'm seven years old and cute."

When we got home we called the police in the hope they would intervene before something awful happened to these children. Is this what we want for our neighborhood?

And is taxing the residents to establish an NID, when we already pay taxes for law enforcement, really the answer? How long…?

Fran and Joe Tarkett

South Side Slopes


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