There's not much to like about the recent State Alcoholic Beverage Control Division decision to permit the violence-plagued Three gables nightclub a return to operations.

There’s not much to like about the recent State Alcoholic Beverage Control Division decision to permit the violence-plagued Three gables nightclub a return to operations.

As reported in the Commercial, ABC Director Michael Langley found the Three Gables club in violation of the state’s “good neighbor” requirement for alcohol permit holders. He fined club owners $1,000 and placed it on suspension for six months, with the suspension to be held in abeyance on the condition that the club have no more violations during that period.

Much of that which is troubling about the Three Gables came from owner Stacey Knott’s own testimony at a Nov. 13 ABC hearing about the business. Knott stated that there was nothing the club could have done to prevent the incident. This abdication of responsibility is what gives establishments such as these a dubious reputation. If this were the first time, or the second or even the tenth that a person in or proximate to the club was the victim of criminal violence, we might give Knott’s perspective some credit.

Clubs like hers are persistent scenes of violence and other criminal activity. For Knott to suggest that the club (and by extension, the management) bears no responsibility in these matters is ludicrous. To profit from a permissive environment while simultaneously denying a hand in fostering said environment is at best disingenuous. To be fair, it’s not like the Three Gables s the first nightclub to garner an ABC fine or to make a bad name for itself. Clubs all over the country face a situation similar to the one we now confront with Knott’s business.

The difference is other local governments don’t usually suborn the crime hotspot in the way ours does.

The United Kingdom’s Home Office studied their pub and club problems for several years. In their report on the matter they observed several things that are key to our local situation. To begin, they conclude the misuse of alcohol fuels violence, “Arrest data… showed that 78 percent of all assault arrestees reported drinking during the fours hours prior to the offence. Between 10 pm and 2 am, 93 percent of people arrested (across all offence types, including assault) had been drinking.”

In short, people get drunk and they do stupid things in which the likelihood of injury or arrest is greatly increased. More pointedly the Home Office observes, “Factors associated with violence in high-risk pubs and clubs include inconvenient access routes, poor ventilation, overcrowding, and permissive social environments, [that are] communicated through pub/club policies and staff behavior.”

That last phrase, “that are communicated through pub/club policies and staff behavior,” is really the hinge pin for the whole problem. When club owners fail to establish, communicate and maintain policies that discourage violence and inappropriate behavior, they can’t then act surprised or disconnected when it visits their business.

All of this gets down to a recurrent problem in Pine Bluff: City leaders in government, business and other spheres have demonstrated a low capacity for system learning. This is to say, that our leadership never seems to learn any lessons when bad things happen.

Every malady is seen as detached and atomized with no connection to the decisions and policies that preceded it.

This must change.

As the body count creeps toward seven times the national murder rate, we can ill-afford more knee-jerk-then-indifference government. If the Three Gables intends to be a continuing concern, the owners must now “own” the responsibilities that they have heretofore disputed.