10-Nov-2009 (Tue)
Wherein the axe falls.

Well, I have some news. I wouldn't call it good news, but I would certainly call it better news than what the news could have been.

We have finally negotiated a settlement with ABC: we will be closed from Monday, January 4th through Thursday, January 28th, and that will basically be the end of it.

As you no doubt recall, they had been trying to revoke our liquor license and put us permanently out of business. So, this is better than that.

There are also a few years of "probation" on top of the suspension (basically meaning that if they hit us with a second accusation of being a "disorderly house injurious to the public welfare and morals", that would be really bad), but this 25 day suspension should be the end of this battle.

As the saying goes, "Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over."

We could not have gotten a deal even this good without your help! Your letters and hard work of keeping the pressure on our elected officials were instrumental in facilitating this negotiation. So thank you all so very, very much for backing us in this fight!

Of course, it still cost us a fortune.

This all started in April 2007 when we kicked the hornets' nest by attempting to convert DNA Lounge to an all ages venue; that led directly to the retaliatory "lewdness" charge in August 2008. As I detailed on the Legal Defense Fund page, this fight has cost us well over a hundred twenty thousand dollars so far. That doesn't count all the money we've spent on lawyers and consultants since last February, nor does it count the truly staggering amount of lost revenue we're looking at by losing almost the entire month of January.

I think we've gotten around $25k in donations to our legal defense fund so far, which has been a fantastic and generous outpouring of support! But, obviously, we could still use some help... So if you can, please donate! It's going to be a cold, hungry January this year...


29 Responses:

  1. I can't afford to donate much, but at least the exchange rate is semi-reasonable for now. I hope even a little bit helps.

  2. mc_kingfish says:

    Yes. That is better than death. Very cold and hungry however.

    Since Hubba Hubba will be cancelled in January I'm moving in with you (how do you like your eggs?)

  3. frandroid says:

    Probation? Talk about a poison pill...

  4. bifrosty2k says:

    Sounds like expected-suprise-buttsex...

  5. dr_memory says:

    Urgh. Well, better than many of the alternatives, I'm sure. Hope your employees are also in a position to go a month without pay.

    On the plus side, this will clearly be the most moral January in San Francisco history! Thanks, ABC!

  6. bluknight says:

    Y'know, I'm looking at hitting San Francisco in January for my birthday (13th) and I was really looking forward to a chance to stop by and show my support in person. It's a shame I won't be able to do so now.

  7. ladykalessia says:

    If I hadn't seen the post come up via RSS before you posted this, I would've had a heart attack at that headline.

    So, when's the welcome back party?

  8. takeapeek says:

    Yeah 2nded on that one, when is the Welcome back party? :-) This makes me happy to know..def better than being gone.

  9. flipzagging says:

    Sorry to hear that you had to give anything to those fuckers. But, oh well.

    As for fundraising: have you seen KickStarter? It's mostly designed for artists to fund their projects by fan patronage, but it might be useful for you too. NIMBY, an Oakland art space, has a project there to help pay their legal bills. Disclosure: my friend works there.

  10. fantasygoat says:

    Call me a pessimist but won't they simply find any excuse to slap you with more charges once you open again, given this ridiculous "probation" bullshit?

    • klarfax says:

      Yeah, the probation is dangerous--it may make it even easier for them to find some bullshit and actually shut the DNA down than it would have if they'd gone forward with the current allegations.

      • jwz says:

        So your proposal is that I should have taken the revocation of the liquor license instead. Oh wait.

        • klarfax says:

          No, I'm just guessing that you may have had an easier shot at avoiding a revocation this time around than you would if you were facing it again but under probation. That doesn't mean that taking the settlement was a bad move though.

        • klarfax says:

          Also, I don't really know what your odds and costs would have been this time around if you had fought it to the end. Obviously the costs of seeing the whole process through might not have been worth it. Maybe my assumption that you would have a good shot at avoiding a revocation this time if you went through the whole process is wrong, in which case taking the deal is a great move, but I do know that if they want to get the DNA again they'll be able to point to the probation to show just how bad for public morals the DNA is.

          I've actually observed criminal defendants get screwed over by probation in similar ways--they'll accept some deal with, say, what appears to be 5% of the punishment they would be looking at if they were to lose at trial because they might have a 30% chance of losing at trial (the expected value of the plea bargain is better even though they would probably win at trial). However, later during a probation period some other bullshit thing happens and they end up getting a far worse punishment than they would have had if they had gone to trial the first time.

          I'm curious, who is the elected official who would be most accountable for the persecution of the DNA--is there any lower level elected person who makes these decisions, or is it the sort of thing originating from deep in the government bureaucracy where the only really accountable elected officials would be the legislature and the governor?

          • jwz says:

            Director of ABC is appointed by the Governor. Nobody below that is elected. Odds are that the persecution originated from a regional director, and Director just let them get away with it. But that's all just theorizing, I actually have no idea.

            • klarfax says:

              The lack of being able to really hold anyone accountable for this is very annoying.

            • chrisbw says:

              Would there be any value in Freedom of Information Act'ing them to see if there's any interesting or damning internal communication?

  11. chromebishop says:

    at least january is the best month to be shut. i seem to recall it being the slowest time of the year for bars/clubs...

  12. djverablue says:

    i'm so happy to hear its finally over...even if its not the deal you were hoping to get.

    i will be buying a shirt as soon as people in new mexico decide the cold weather isn't that scary and start coming out to by bar again and giving me their money (which will hopefully be soon). and if they give me enough money, perhaps i will be able to make it out for a visit after the re-opening.

  13. fgmr says:

    I too suspect the probation period is a trap.