Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wave of support to save Fitzroy Gardens

Beautiful Fitzroy Gardens - if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
The City's plan to demolish and redesign Fitzroy Gardens in Kings Cross, site of the El Alamein Fountain, is stirring a growing wave of opposition as locals realise the treasure in their midst. Meetings among all the local business and resident groups, a fast-growing petition and a rally to be held at the Gardens on Saturday 6 November are just some of the roadblocks being erected in front of Council's bulldozers.

Yours truly volunteered to make the website in co-operation with a network of locals and, even if I say so myself, when you see the facts and photos laid out you have to wonder what ignorance prompted Council to launch this project -- which has been on their books at least since 2003, although they are spinning that the community requested it in 2007.

The site is at (not all the pages are finished at the time of writing, but you'll get the idea.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Top cop advocates debate on drug law

Deputy Commissioner Ken Jones
(pic: Herald-Sun)
Another senior police officer has 'broken ranks' with the normal police support of the War on Drugs with a call to educate the public about the on-costs and ineffectiveness of prohibition, and to have an informed debate.

Victoria's Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones is one of the few to name the costs we bear in less obvious areas because of prohibition:

He said the public should be educated about the flow-on costs, from higher insurance premiums to delays in elective surgery as hospitals treated the fallout from drugs and crime...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who benefits from prohibition?

It's only a month till California votes on Proposition 19, a Bill to legalize and tax cannabis. As the battle lines form, it's interesting to see who opposes the Bill and why. Many are scratching their heads at opposition from drug police, jail supervisors and... the alcohol industry who are, ironically, contributing to an anti-cannabis campaign called Public Safety First. As reported on Alternet, the financial self-interest of these bodies is obvious 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

'Shocking numbers' show success of Kings Cross

6,000 people per hour in the Cross -
"Shocking evidence," says Clover

Did you know the WHOLE CAPACITY of Town Hall (2,000 people) goes through the Bayswater Rd intersection in Kings Cross EVERY 20 MINUTES on a big night? That’s 6,000 people between 1am and 2am, while there are 5,500 footfalls on Darlinghurst Road. It’s a “major event”, says Clover Moore.

She’s right. These thronging young crowds comprise the most educated, healthy, well dressed and gorgeous generation in human history. Most people see their weekly gathering as a great party,  a movement, a celebration of the very wealth and freedom we fight wars for. Certainly the tens of thousands in the fun-filled crowds see it that way.

But our ageing Councillors see it as a “shocking problem” that has to be eliminated. Here we see two opposing mindsets across a generational divide, and mindsets are dangerous because they cause people to ignore facts or at least interpret them selectively.

The footfall figures probably come from Council’s new research which is intended to “progress the cumulative impact argument” in the words of Council’s CEO Monica Barone.

But facts can be a double-edged blade. The huge numbers are also proof that any violence is only a very small part of a very big scene. And given those numbers, Clover Moore’s alarmist figure of $3.2 million a year being spent by St Vincent’s Hospital dealing with alcohol related injuries doesn’t look so alarming. In times where billion is the new million, maybe that’s just the price society must pay to deal with its own damaged underbelly.

The knee-jerk response by Council and police to shut the scene down punishes the benign majority to target the thuggish few, ‘throwing the baby out with the Bayswater’.


[rest at]

Herald journalist gets all mixed up

Vanda Carson has been writing in The Sydney Morning Herald about Kings Cross lately. Her story in Saturday's  edition though, shows either terrible confusion or really bad sub-editing. It was a long weekend, after all.

In a story about Council’s War on Kings Cross, Vanda writes:
Residents are also mostly supportive of the plan, with the majority of Kings Cross and Oxford Street residents wanting fewer pubs or a cap on the number of liquor licences, according to a council survey.
The survey also showed 20 per cent of Oxford Street residents and 16 per cent of Kings Cross residents believed either the opening hours or the number of alcohol outlets should be restricted to curtail violence, noise, vomiting and public nuisance issues.
Excuse me, Vanda, how do figures of 16% and 20% justify the phrase "the majority of Kings Cross and Oxford Street residents wanting fewer pubs". They sound like a rather small minority to me, as I have been banging on about.

The only survey Vanda Carson could have been referring to* showed only 16 percent of residents wanted to "Restrict opening hours/alcohol outlets". That's far from a majority. Perhaps Vanda is a bit mathematically challenged and reads what she expects to believe.

Vanda also qualifies Council's recent series of losses in court by describing the victors with terms like "powerful hoteliers", as if Council's bottomless budget and corporate size does not match or exceed that of their opponents. The fact is, Council's evidence simply does not stack up, as I reported on at length in the current City News.

In a series of reports, I show from Hansard records (2 June 2010) how Clover Moore wants to shut everything down at midnight (Off to bed early, Sydney, says Clover);

And how Police and Council are ignoring other measures to improve amenity in Kings Cross (DIY Policing offer ignored).

All the above were tied up in a comment piece (My generation’s War on Nightlife puts down a new generation).

*P 32 (print) or P 38 (pdf pagination) of Late night trading - Community perceptions (June 2008, Urbis)