DISCLAIMER: This is late; I should have penned it years ago, when I started writing this column. Part of me thinks I don’t require a disclaimer. I am not a journalist. That’s the disclaimer. I can hear a collective “tell us something we don’t know” going up as those words show up on the page.
Without Further Ado
This obvious fact bore itself out earlier today. I spent the afternoon sitting in on a meeting regarding policies being considered to try to reign in Chico’s assorted “alcohol-related” issues. The group at the table included business owners, city council members, and officials with law enforcement.
Let me back up. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column condemning a series of recommendations presented by the Chief of Police, Kirk Trostle. But I went further than to simply criticize the items—I painted the Chief as a caricature: a joyless authoritarian who is out to do live music in. Well, this afternoon I got the chance to talk to the man face-to-face, and it turns out I made some bad assumptions.
My mistake, what I did, was to conflate the recommendations the Chief submitted with his personal opinions. After the meeting was over, Chief Trostle took some time to explain to me that the ideas he put forth weren’t based on his feelings, and he plainly admitted that a few of them didn’t make sense to him, intuitively. But these were recommendations derived from past situations that arose in other communities, or from scientific studies—in other words, from data.
When a consensus arises from the community that there is a serious problem, and that it needs to be addressed, it’s the task of the Chief to sort through the information and present a plan of action. I know eyes are rolling. Every study, every statistic—you’ve got to look at where it comes from, and how it was derived. If we question back far enough, we find every premise can be flawed.
That’s the way it goes down though—you’ve got to start somewhere. Someone presents a plan, or a series of recommendations, and another party considers it. You know, I guess the point is that opinions can be malleable: show up, voice an idea or a plan, and give people something to consider. If you don’t, someone else will.
The meeting was impressive. It lasted a couple of hours, and for the first hour and twenty minutes it didn’t seem like anything significant was going to be figured out. I would have put money on a continuation. Then something gave way. The energy in the room turned from stand-offish to utilitarian. Grievances were expressed and addressed; solutions were introduced and discussed.
More meetings will follow to iron out the specific implementation of the proposed policies, but so far as I can tell, nothing being considered presently is going to directly and explicitly impact the current state of live music and performance art.
Phew. A lot of thought and consideration went into this one. Expect wine-fueled babble for the next few weeks, and please keep the disclaimer in mind.