I was troubled at the city council meeting on May 28, 2019

I went to a city council meeting Tuesday night. I went to support Earl as he gave his secular humanist invocation. I stayed to speak during the comment period in support of  the city council allowing the school board to ask the voters for a dedicated revenue stream to keep the neighborhood schools in good repair.

The city council talked mostly about internet cafes. I didn’t understand their banter. I’m glad the Times Union wrote an article about it which you can read at this link:
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190529/jacksonville-city-council-cracks-down-on-simulated-gambling

I still have questions.

I don’t have a problem with gambling being illegal. BUT shouldn’t we be consistent? Is there other problems to gambling other than the addiction issue? Why is the lottery OK but not these internet cafes? IF these machines are so bad, why do nonprofits get to operate them? In response to this part of the article: “The bill lets nonprofits operate gaming events twice a year …”

I wish someone would write a more detailed article about this part of the article:

“If the city doesn’t enforce the rules, a change drafted by Councilman John Crescimbeni would let residents do it themselves by going to court and seeking a judge’s order through a process called injunctive relief. A similar process has been used to prod the city to enforce its rules protecting trees from being eliminated for development, Crescimbeni said, noting that the city is required to pay attorney fees for successful resident challenges.”

Is the above quote saying residents can sue the city? Why the city? Why don’t they sue the landlord or the operator? And for the tree ordinance, why don’t they sue the violator? Why the city? I fund the city with my tax dollars. I’m not sure I’m in favor of making it easier to sue the city unless some city official is biased or negligent then hopefully the lawsuit results in a firing. No? Am I wrong?

I can understand that citizens don’t want unsavory characters in their neighborhoods. That is what zoning laws are for, yes? In response to this part of the article: “We have a problem where people are coming from outside our state and outside our county..”

Some of the council members said the citizens are complaining about the internet cafes. What exactly is the complaint? Unwelcome tourists? In response to this part of the article: “We have families that are reaching out to us and they’re begging us to do something about it.” One council member asked if a vacant building would be worse than an internet cafe.

The crime mentioned in the article is people robbing these places because they have a lot of cash on hand. Why are these cafes more vulnerable to robbery than other businesses with cash?

I am worried about Gulliford’s desire to hank someone’s city certificate with 5 days notice when they haven’t done anything illegal. The ones without COU’s can already be prosecuted according to the way I read the article. I am glad that cooler heads prevailed and the city council gave the business with valid COU’s six months before they hank their COU.

Is this legal? Landlords being punished for someone else’s crime? How will landlords know what their tenants are doing? In response to this part of the article: “Property owners who let someone else operate the machines in their buildings can be fined $1,000 for each violation” Hopefully the landlord will get a warning and help with their eviction proceedings.

Some council members mentioned that they are voting yes on the bill because they’ve driven by these internet cafes. Doesn’t that strike you as odd? What business is next? Maybe the internet cafes should be illegal BUT the reasoning of “I drove by one” makes NO sense to me.

I also hated Gulliford’s joke toward the end of the city council meeting where he simulated shooting someone. How distasteful for an elected official to say that. I wasn’t able to trim the video perfectly so a couple of council members speak before and after Gulliford makes his joke in this clip:

It smells like partisan politics to me. Did these internet cafes not give enough campaign dollars to Curry? Maybe I’m just too cynical these days.

Quotes from article:
110 businesses hold city certificates authorizing them to operate….
“We’ve already begun with the non-COU holders,” Hughes said. ”… We’re prepared to move forward.”

Here is the link to the proposed ordinance:

http://cityclts.coj.net/coj/COJbillDetail.asp?F=2019-0209\Current%20Text

BUT the bill raises more questions also.   Quote from the proposed bill:

WHEREAS, gaming and gambling are not presently lawful in the City;

 

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