OPINION – It has been two weeks to the day yesterday since our City Council here in St. George voted three to two against a zoning exception application to permit a dance establishment.
Apparently, a lot of people do.
I keep hearing about how oppressive this town is to businesses such as these and something like an undercurrent is present that keeps at least the perception of this assertion going.
I myself tend to view things in this light because of the stark contrast between this place and others like it.
But in spite of my cynicism, I cannot abide this perception on the basis of this recent vote.
In the face of incredible criticism the Mayor and his City Council made a difficult decision based on the facts presented them, the best interest of all involved, and the rule of law.
What Dance Haven and the now deceased GoGo37 failed to do was exercise due diligence in preparation for their proposed businesses. Dance Haven went forward with improvements and plans for a dance venture before obtaining the requisite waiver to the existing zoning restrictions, GoGo37 never applied for a license and perhaps did not undertake to conform its tenant space to the requisite Uniform Building Code requirements for such a venture.
What they both succeeded in doing was to elicit an emotional reaction from the people of this city; and the city stood fast and its officials did their jobs.
I would not want it any other way, and neither would you.
I would think, if anything, this would serve as valuable information for anyone in the future planning to open similar ventures: Have your ducks in a row and your council will have no choice but to support your business ventures because they hold themselves to the very standard they exacted when they refused Dance Haven’s request.
The Studio did that – it established its business in a zone that allowed for a dance hall license, it invested in improvements to conform to the Uniform Building Code, and it applied for the license and was granted one.
It remains to be seen whether others who follow suit, have their ducks in a row, will be as successful with their applications.
A larger picture is at play here and that is the degree of accountability our elected officials are coming under as St. George embraces the diversification of people that the growth they have strived for brings.
Gone are the days when a founding monoculture can exact with impunity its own agendas based on its own principles and expect those who do not agree with those principles to capitulate without dissent.
This is because, like it or not, there is something in this country that supersedes any personal convictions of one group or another: That is the freedom from being governed by anything that does not abide the rule of constitutional law.
Now, here is where you might say, “That is just your opinion.” and I would agree, to a point.
The purpose of an opinion editorial is to raise questions and bring about discussion on matters of consequence and that is what I attempt to do here.
This is not the place for nonsensical dribble laden with my own ill-informed or parroted predispositions. That is what a blog is for and there are a lot of people who brand themselves writers who belong there.
I aim to not be one of them.
Taken seriously, the job of a journalist is to get at the truth and to report it to the people. Sometimes this includes the reporting of hard truths.
Those who are critical of the press and your governing officials have my sympathy as I concede that both have become something of an entertainment venue in many instances.
But – you made it that way.
You buy the products they peddle; and you vote for your candidates based on what they tell you and your own ill-informed and parroted predispositions. They get the message that they are doing a good job by their ratings and their elections.
It takes more than a simple reporting of who, what, when, and where to raise questions, and that is what a good opinion column does.
Now more than ever, nationally and here at home in St. George, we need a viable press that takes seriously its job accountability by exposing things nefarious and of good merit.
It also requires an engaged and participant community.
The last city council meeting had it all. A city council committed to do what was right, weighing laws and regulations in place and the competing interests of several business owners, a community present and asking why, and a press holding them to examination.
I, for one, am encouraged.
See you out there.
Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.