Permit needed for fun, laughter, clapping

Politics has always been the art of saying one thing and doing another, and last week was no exception.

Politics has always been the art of saying one thing and doing another, and last week was no exception. Reality, it seems, has been suspended while we embrace the eternal task of massaging the real world into the fantasy of bureaucracy.

The Capital’s first step into this fantasy world came during last Thursday’s council meeting when, despite its business having been a fixture of Victoria’s music scene for over two decades, the owners of Hermann’s Jazz Club found their liquor license up for review. In order to quiet the BC Liquor Board’s pathological fear of fun, laughter, and dancing, the bar sought a “patron participation entertainment endorsement,” to allow patrons to dance, clap, or sing along with performers.

After over 20 years without an incident, why did Hermann’s patrons suddenly need official blessing to do what they’ve been doing all along? For the liquor board, a better question seems to be, “Why not?”

Meanwhile, the city asked us to believe that it is Open, Open, Open with a press release declaring “City Introduces Open Data Catalogue and Opens City Hall to Host Open Data Day Hackathon,” and announcing such great strides toward accountability as a new online garbage collection schedule. Forget for a moment that unlike previous administrations, nearly every meeting of this council includes a portion that is closed to the public. Forget last fall’s attempt to close the city’s Freedom of Information process to local journalists. Forget that everything from budget cuts to the city’s handling of FOI requests has been debated behind closed doors — it’s Open, Open, Open from here on out.

When reality finally tried to rear its ugly head during Thursday’s meeting, we stepped back yet again as the city postponed a presentation from the Community Social Planning Council. The presentation would have reviewed the region’s current approach to affordable housing, shared examples from other cities, and provided suggestions for a less extravagant future. It’s been years of rising housing prices and falling incomes since council declared the lack of affordable housing an emergency situation — what’s another couple of weeks?

With the requisite Denial, Doublespeak and Diversion over with, perhaps the coming weeks will bring us a little closer to earth. M

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