Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Hat's Off" to the Press-Citizen

Both the Press-Citizen and The Gazette editorialized this morning (October 12) regarding the recent task force proposals about UI undergraduates' binge drinking. Editorial, "It's Time for a Referendum on the 21-Only Issue," Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 12, 2006; Editorial, "Bleak Prospects for I.C. Drinking Change," The Gazette, October 12, 2006.

Both took positions consistent with my blog entry yesterday, that the problems, and recommendations, have been around for decades and that nothing gets accomplished, not for a lack of solutions, but for a lack of will on the part of the Iowa City City Council, seemingly beholden to the local owners of the 42 bars competing for student drunks.
Nicholas Johnson, "I'll Drink to That," October 10, 2006.

But the reason the Press-Citizen gets a "Hat's Off" Award from the FromDC2Iowa Journalism Review, is because it went beyond the carping that I, and The Gazette, offered.

The Press-Citizen's editorial actually offers a solid proposal to get us off the dime: hold a referendum on 21-year-old bar entry requrements. Either it passes or it doesn't. In eiher case it takes the issue from the City Council and hands it off to the citizenry. If the voters of Iowa City aren't smart enough to do something about it then at least we can put the issue aside and point to the vote as an example of Churchill's observation that "democracy is the worst form of government on earth -- except for all the others."

Congratulations, Press-Citizen.

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Anonymous said...

Every time the IC Council has considered an ordinance to restrict bars to persons 21 and older several hundred persons show up at the council chamber to oppose the ordinance and pehaps a dozen appear to support the ordinance. The outcome is always the same the council drops the subject.

The way I interpret this is that the support for a 21 ordinance is very shallow and my reading of the present council is there is one vote for 21, one maybe, three solidly against 21 and two that hope that the issue does not come up.

A view expressed by a former council member is "I don't care if the kids drink. I just don't want them to get drunk."

Some of them plan to get drunk and that part of the plan is perfectly executed. However they do not plan to spend the night (or morning) in jail or to make an initial appearance before a magistrate. A typical reactions is "Things like this don't happen to me someone has made a mistake." Yes someone has.

A referendum on 21 might pass because students say that they will turn out to vote but most of the time they do something else.

Nick said...

John: What we need at all levels of government are public officials who are (a) willing to listen to (without becoming bound by) the special interest pleaders and the "astroturf" support they are able to create (e.g., letters, calls, email, crowds), but (b) mindful of the interests and positions of those from whom they don't hear, and (c) willing to advance what they believe to be in the best public interest -- however unpopular it may be. Unfortunately, there aren't many of those. -- Nick