Davenport can call off its anti-business witch hunt any day now.
Yet again, city officials were stymied last week in their personal crusade to shutter downtown bar, Shenanigans. Officials at the state Alcoholic Beverages Division sided with an earlier state ruling that basically held the city's attempts in 2015 to pull the bar's liquor license were based on rumor and hearsay.
Just stop. Not another penny of tax dollars should be wasted on appealing what's clearly a petty attempt to pick winners and losers based on personal taste.
Citing a stabbing in 2015, Davenport's war against Shenanigans and its owner Burton Davison is clearly personal. Take last year's St. Patrick's Day as an example. Anyone who ventured downtown met with drunken revelers, bands and heaps of trash piled on the streets. That's because Davenport closed streets and issued outdoor liquor licenses to all but one applicant for the boozy holiday. Only Shenanigans' application was denied.
It's a classic case of disparate enforcement by officials with an ax to grind.
Anyone who has crawled Davenport's downtown bars knows that Shenanigans exercises more caution than any other with its security. Bouncers pat down patrons and seize pocket knives before entering the door. It's a unique practice, a direct response to the criticisms from City Hall.
It's noteworthy that one alderman in particular, Bill Boom, has a conflict of interest. Boom is often the lead dissenter when new applications liquor are filed. He's also a downtown bar owner. In short, Boom has a financial interest that clearly taints his approach.
But the city's crusade against Shenanigans is greater than Boom's conflicts.
At least one member of the council has correctly noted in the past that Shenanigans is, perhaps, the only downtown bar that caters to African Americans. Rap supersedes 1970s rock 'n' roll or smooth jazz. In that regard, Shenanigans brings diversity to downtown, a necessary piece if being "hip" is truly the goal.
Although probably not intentional, the debate over Shenanigans bears a racial tinge. Bad Company is considered safe. Drake isn't.
Shenanigans and its owner aren't perfect. Davison was arrested in 2015 on misdemeanor assault charges. But, as state officials concluded, that alone doesn't trigger the "good moral character" clause, which Davenport has wielded in its attempt to drive Davison out of business. Surely, he's not the only business owner who has faced misdemeanor charges.
Davenport's quest to shutter Shenanigans is personal. It's impossible to know precisely which pieces of a complex story trigger individual members of the city council or staff. We're not mind readers.
What is true, however, is that Davison and his business have been unjustly targeted for almost two years now. The city has regulated Shenanigans in a way that puts the bar at a distinct disadvantage. And it's all been done based on pretense and scorn.
The state's disinterested lawyers and bureaucrats saw through Davenport's flimsy case against Shenanigans. Now it's time for City Hall to apply such objectivity.