War in Wynwood
MEDA responds: Ignorance isn't bliss; it's just damn ignorance. The owners cited in the article about a recent crackdown on Wynwood bars ("Bar Fight," Michael E. Miller, April 25) freely admit they have violated the law and don't seem to draw the connection between law enforcement and their actions, opting instead to frolic in the grassy knoll of conspiracy theory. As I said to the hack, gonzo-want-be-journalist Michael Miller, the bars in the downtown entertainment district have and continue to be closely regulated by the police. This has been the case since late 2007. We have been cited, arrested, and shut down into code compliance. There are many lines that we do not cross, and we accept the limitations imposed on us. We rarely apply for special event permits because we know that the city will expect strict compliance with fire and safety codes. Downtown clubs don't have outside music and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to lessen our sound footprint in the district, including the costly enclosure of an open terrace. Don't think for a second that the police and fire departments have moved on from our district. Miller was also told about a MEDA member that was recently shut down for serving past 5 a.m.; another member had fire code complications that seriously impacted his plans for this year's Winter Music Conference.
Are New Times readers so stupid as to believe this crap? Public safety and compliance with the law is not optional. You can't grow a business by violating the law and, in doing so, create an unfair advantage against your supposed "Park West competitors." Given the expenses in Park West, do you think these clubs can compete with small bars with no cover and two-for-one drink specials? The Miami Entertainment District Association (MEDA) is an organization that allows us to work together for the common good of not only our businesses but our community. We have provided backpacks and Christmas toys to thousands of local children, sponsored gun buy-back programs, and contributed to a number of other community causes.
If it is the hiring of police that interests you, then it should be noted that violent crime in the entertainment district has decreased approximately 15 percent since the policing program began in 2010. MEDA officers work under the direction of the commander and recognize that the management of a nightlife economy is most effective when it is done in cooperation with the businesses. Cooperation is not synonymous with collusion; I know it's not sexy or salacious, but it is nonetheless the truth. Mike Slyder, co-owner of Mekka and president of MEDA
Two different crowds: I would never go to downtown's 24-hour clubs like Space and Mekka because it's not my crowd. Wynwood is colorful, laid-back, down-to-earth, and full of locals. It's a great alternative to the Beach and other areas. The officials and police officers are all picking on these smaller businesses, even going so far as telling them they want to close their businesses down. They are harassing smaller businesses and bullying them to close down. The pressure is coming from somewhere. Why? Because they are a threat to these terrible downtown clubs? There is no comparison. They are two different worlds.
Either way, the bullying and harassment need to stop. Wynwood business owners need to speak up. These business owners work too hard, and now they have to deal with this? Downtown club owners can spend all the money they want on corrupt officials trying to hold Wynwood down, but Wynwood is taking over without affecting the downtown crowd. I'm so happy to finally read an article on this. Hopefully it will shine some light on the situation. Angelica C.
Just follow the law: Wynwood's bar owners might be right that downtown clubs have pressured police to crack down on the neighborhood, but even if the police were working under some hidden motive or conspiracy, the point is that the law was still broken. You'd think a person with a business degree might understand that people act out of their own s elf-interest. Quit whining. In all fairness, Shots Miami's owner's arrest could have been avoided if the bar had stopped serving alcohol before 3 a.m. It may seem like no big deal to serve a few minutes over, but it's also no big deal to just pay attention to the last call. Then all this energy could be effectively put toward changing the law instead of complaining about it. It's pretty astounding that so many bars and clubs can't follow guidelines, regardless of how "evil" law enforcement is. BeReel