When the mayor said, "I just want you to know the number one crime generator in all of downtown Dallas that spills over to Deep Ellum is Club Blue," the crowd erupted in applause. When Armstrong tried to respond, Miller interrupted. "No one else is yelling," she said, though his raised voice was no higher than other members of the crowd who spoke without a microphone. She then said Club Blue's landlord is trying to get funding for a new project by "getting better control over what's happening operationally in your club." Armstrong immediately answered that recent crimes are happening outside Club Blue, not inside. Her response to that: "I would just like you to be part of the solution."
Club Blue representatives came to the meeting hoping the city would offer some solution to control the crime that happens in nearby parking lots not owned by Club Blue; Miller responded by saying the crime is the club’s fault. Funny, I think we wrote something about the city pinning crimes on a business owner a few times last year. Miller never explained what Club Blue could do to "be part of the solution"; since she didn't offer one, I'll guess that she'd rather the club close down and the crime move to some other part of the Metroplex (like DMX or Escapade) than do anything about the current problem.
What makes me maddest is how happy the crowd was to hear such rhetoric. Would you be chipper if Miller blamed Deep Ellum's crime on your place of business? I can’t attest to the utter safety of Club Blue, but condemning a nightclub for dumb-ass patrons is a smoke-and-mirrors tactic, a way to put off the desperately needed fixes to make Deep Ellum safe without choking its underground identity.
Speaking of smoke and mirrors, council member Angela Hunt attended the meeting to pat herself on the back for her new initiative, something that will surely fix everything that’s wrong with Deep Ellum.
“Part of my goal is an anti-graffiti program for the city,” Hunt said. “If you'd like to participate with us on the very first city-wide graffiti abatement day on May 20, I'm very excited about this...Graffiti can really contribute to crime, it contributes to blight, it makes our neighborhoods look ugly, it makes our businesses look ugly. I think we can take a big chunk out of a lot of our problems by cleaning up our city and abating graffiti.”
People are scared of getting mugged, harassed or attacked in Deep Ellum, but don’t worry, because on May 20, we’ll paint all of our troubles away. After that, maybe we can ratify a spiffy new Deep Ellum dress code whilst sipping lemonade at the Liquid Lounge. Conveniently, the city has a date set for this graffiti party, but when asked when any action would be taken on new permits, parking meter changes or increased police protection, the city’s answers were much more vague--“six to eight weeks,” that sorta thing. Glad to see their priorities are in order.
I’d say more about how stupid the graffiti abatement plan is, but Jim Schutze nailed it in his column this week (link will be active later Wednesday afternoon; go to a newsstand in the meantime). --Sam Machkovech