Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Picnics: Blaine and Simple

Blaine had his picnic this last weekend. Lots of people were there, most people had a good time, and money was made. Economically it was a success.

There were lots of problems. There were over 70 arrests for multiple offenses. People were arrested as they staggered out the gate and attempted to drive off. Many minors were drinking or in possession of alcohol. Old furniture was left behind for others to clean up. Trash was left until Monday to blow around the area and spread to the surrounding area. The after math is currently making its' way through the judicial system, and will affect some lives for years. This is, to say the least, a problem.

It would be easy to come up with a laundry list of fixes and solutions. More and better security people. Use technology. Everyone can add to the list. In the end fixing the problem depends on one simple fact: It's a matter of setting priorities.

The rules and regulations for the use of the river stage are set down by the Civic Events Board with review and approval by the City Council. The CEB has a responsibility to develop rules and procedures for events that will bring business and make money for the city. They have an even bigger responsibility to make sure that the events hosted are safe and not a catalyst for crimes such as DWI or MIP. The hands off approach and the emphasis on little but economics has led to large picnics with lots of attendance but corners cut that compromised the safety and image of the city. We were just lucky that there were no serious injuries, and that there were no problems serious enough that the city and event organizers could have been sued.

I'm in favor of picnics like Blaines. They can be a great event. Still, the CEB, the City Council, and city staff need to do a better job of setting down and enforcing the rules. We need to do better.

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