Fischer: Changing bar time won’t curb bad choices

The Naperville City Council is considering earlier bar times to curb bad behavior downtown.  |  Sun-Times Media file photo
The Naperville City Council is set to approve new bar regulations to curb bad behavior downtown. | Sun-Times Media file photo

I am sure many of you have seen “Footloose,” either the 1984 on-screen version or the more recent stage productions.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, it is the story of a municipality where the town council, in the wake of poor choices by several of its younger residents that led to tragic results, bans all perceived contributing factors to the bad behavior. Among these now illegal activities are dancing and listening to popular music. (Since this was the 1980s, I endorse and support banning what then passed for popular music.)

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen the movie or the play and don’t want to know what happens next — stop reading now. If you do not continue, though, you will miss how this is relevant to Naperville.

For those still reading, the story unfolds to show how the kids, who never stopped engaging in the banned activities and typically travelled out of town to indulge in the locally forbidden behavior, band together to prove they can make responsible choices and celebrate safely. They work together to show the leaders of the community that, just because a few people made bad choices, the majority should not be prevented from joining together, going out and having fun.

So how does this relate to Naperville?

We recently had some unfortunate and tragic incidents (exacerbated by some in the media recycling a more than 2-year-old video of a local burger emporium fight) that highlighted the consequences for individuals who made poor choices after alcohol consumption. In reaction, some citizens are demanding that government make changes to an environment where most local voters never venture during the hours in question.

These latter-day Carrie Nation’s feel authorities should have the prescience to stop people, some of whom may be looking for trouble, from considering random fisticuffs in the middle of the street. These same citizens believe the city can ensure alcohol-impaired individuals will only make appropriate choices after their night on the town. Lost in the discussion of fixing “the problem” is that imposing proposed controls might unfairly impact the ability of hard-working servers, bartenders and bouncers to earn a living.

Closer analysis indicates that the problem is not necessarily the establishments, the beverage choices or the hours. The problem centers on a few patrons lacking the moral imperative to act responsibly together with some for whom adding alcohol to their bloodstream removes inhibitions and reduces common sense. Legislating common sense is very difficult.

What is needed is a means to discourage a small percentage of Naperville bar patrons from inflicting their poor choices on others. Instead of draconian and potentially nuclear options, one possible solution is a network of ID scanners. Immediately knowing who has entered, whether they are legal, and if they have been “banned” elsewhere because of their behavior choices, will create a better environment.

Identifying and addressing problem customers, not rushing to actions that may or may not reduce contributing factors should be the next logical step.

Contact Bob Fischer at bobfischer@wowway.com

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5 Comments

  • Anthony

    Bob is right on. This is classic American overreaction. I'm dt nap late night pretty consistently and I see 100's of people having fun with their friends. To ruin the enjoyment of 99% because of the 1% idiots is a kneejerk move. There is no way to legislate perfection. No matter what you do a handful of people will make bad choices. Also, Thur/Fri/Sat nights are a big reason the downtown can support so many restaurants. If you take their money making time away you will have fewer choices available over time.

    2014-08-19 13:38:57 | Reply
  • CityCouncilGuardDog

    Recycling videos (or in this case a picture from 2 years ago of Blackfinn) let's those who may have missed the mayhem the first time a chance to witness the power of council inaction. If there is a quota on how many food vendors are allowed within a geographical area, why not a quota on liquor licenses? Seems the council was more focused on Naperville's nitrate consumption rather than liquor.

    2014-08-18 17:34:12 | Reply
  • Sir Knight

    Well, I am well past the age of 21 and, for those of you who are concerned, I am a Naperville tax payer. I am also proud of our downtown and remember that I was once young when 1:00 AM or 2:00 AM was a common time to share enjoyment -- and I was never arrested for being drunk, disorderly or have ever had a DUI. And I fully concur with Bob Fisher's comments as they are realistic where the other comments are not.

    2014-08-18 15:07:05 | Reply
  • Abbie

    Check your mailbox Mr. Fischer, I am sure your payment from the Naperville Bar Owners Association has arrived by now.Scanner networks, banned lists, behavior choices? what next, retina scans...are you kidding ? The freaks will find a way around it, they always do. By this logic, checking ID's keeps all minors from drinking at these dive bars. And heaven knows no 20 year olds are making bad behavior choices and using fake ID's or adding alcohol to their bloodstreams..There is a very simple solution...Midnight Last Call on Fri/Sat. Nothing good happens after 12 anyway. As a taxpayer and resident, I have to wonder what all of the extra police presence is costing me babysitting a bunch of drunks, most of who don't live here, contribute next to nothing to our economy and make a pretty cool downtown a dangerous and unsafe version of division and rush.How many more people have to get assaulted, arrested or die before common sense prevails over the greedy, clouted desires of the bar owners, liquor distributors and City Government.

    2014-08-18 11:34:13 | Reply
  • James

    "Behavior choices?" Do people actually talk like that?

    2014-08-17 21:48:11 | Reply



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