Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | APRIL 08, 2010 7:30 AM

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Alcohol hypocrisy

I was shocked that your front-page article on April 2, “21-ordinance could cause layoffs,” included the outrageous comments of Mike Porter, the owner of One-Eye Jakes, the Summit, and Vito’s. At first, I assumed that the date on the paper was incorrect. Surely this was meant for the previous day’s issue? It would have been hilarious then, but instead it was just egregiously irresponsible. This is a PR campaign by Porter and his ilk to frame the underage drinking culture as a “benefit” to the economy.

I don’t understand how The Daily Iowan can report his statements and fail to acknowledge his role in the city’s current underage-drinking problem. There was no mention of Porter’s recent fight with the City Council to get the Summit’s liquor license reinstated after it was revoked for its PAULA rate.

And what of One-Eye Jake’s manager Tom Lenoch's involvement in the 18-ordinance petition? Surely Porter is at least aware of his employee’s efforts, if he’s not an active participant in them himself.

Porter has been a vehement opponent of alcohol limits of any form and has taken action to comply with ordinances only when they threaten his pocketbook. How many peoples’ livelihoods were disrupted when Vito’s was closed “after a citation for selling alcohol to minors”, to quote a Jan. 22 Daily Iowan article? If he’s truly concerned with the welfare of his employees, wouldn’t consistent adherence to existing laws have served them better in the past?

Exactly how biased do sources have to be before the DI will include them? If inflammatory statements are the only criteria for inclusion, why not just make them up? You could cut your staff in half without any loss of quality. Of course, that would include layoffs.

David Welch
UI graduate student

How much regulation is needed?

The current debate over Friday class offerings is similar to the debate over the 21-ordinance. How much regulation do university students need? In my opinion, a university is a place of liberal and savvy minds demanding independence, not conformity. Excessive control such as the 21-ordinance and the Friday-class issue not only ignores, it denies the self-governing capability of university students.

In the Friday-class case specifically, the obvious way for the university to impose more Friday attendance is to make more mandatory and desirable (prestigious, quality, popular) courses meet on Fridays. However, no matter how curricula are designed to emphasize Friday-morning attendance, students who don’t want Friday classes can still figure out a schedule without classes on Fridays. As a result, we may witness a gradual, subtle decrease in our educational quality: A fair number of students will sacrifice more desirable classes for a more desirable time schedule. When a university focuses more on how to control its students rather than how to provide high-quality education and a liberal, discursive environment, it has deviated from its original objective, which is to enlighten young minds.

As a world-class university, we should have more confidence in the young, energetic minds on our campus, creating an encouraging atmosphere between school administrators and students.

Di Zhou
UI junior

21-ordinance won’t help

“For the health and safety of young people.” This was the mantra of the City Council and many of those who attended and spoke at a recent City Council meeting on the 21-ordinance. Again and again, they spoke of the dangers of alcohol, of the undeveloped brains we students harbor, and of the underage alcohol reduction this ordinance would surely lead to. But the council is clearly wrong.

The 21-ordinance will do nothing to impede underage drinking. Students will simply attend house parties or drink in the dorms — places with worse consequences. This horse has already been beaten to death, but downtown is a safer place to be intoxicated. At the meeting, the director of the Johnson County Public Health Department spoke in favor of the ordinance, stating that one-third of all ambulance trips in the county are to downtown Iowa City. This, however, just supports the safety claim of drinking downtown. People in this central, compact location who are in need of medical attention are receiving it more readily. An ambulance can be called without fear of heavy consequences for the surrounding students, a fear present in house parties and dorms.

In addition, many students are stopped before they reach that critical stage, as they can be denied alcohol at the bars when they’ve had too much. And if there is liquor-fueled violence downtown, a police officer can be summoned quickly to restore peace. This is just skimming the surface of a much larger pool of arguments; there are many more benefits of alcohol consumption in bars that can be covered. So while the city councilors may believe they are doing the right thing, the outlook shows more harm than good.

Chris St. Peter
UI freshman

Ban panhandling

Regarding the City Council looking into regulating panhandling: How about making it illegal? Instead of enabling lazy people, how about making them get a job? Seems to me that if these people have the time to stand around incessantly begging for money and claiming to be homeless, then they have the time to get a job.

There is no shame in working at McDonald’s or Wal-Mart. There is, however, shame in asking for money when you could be working to make your own. Some of these panhandlers aren’t homeless at all. Panhandling can be very lucrative, but it’s wrong. For those who stand at intersections begging, it’s dangerous for car traffic. For the City Council to even consider a new way to help them panhandle is about as simple as it gets. Don’t you know? Socialism doesn’t work.

Liz Smothers
UI employee

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