The Exquisite Timing of Mood Lounge

On Wednesday, The Ethiopian Times, which describes itself as “the only English newspaper in the United State serving the Ethiopian community,” published a little jeremiad under the headline “Mood Lounge was not found quilty [sic]”:

“The Mood Lounge has been under much scrutiny by the ANC  and a select group of neighbors, some of whom have been very vocal in their mission of shutting down Mood Lounge amidst allegations of noise violations.   Despite these accusations and the relentless harassment by this group of neighbors that accompany them, to date, the Mood Lounge has not been found in violation of any noise provisions.”

The editorial began by expressing “shock” and “sadness” over the double stabbing that occurred at the de facto nightclub on Dec. 30, 2011, despite ample evidence that Mood Lounge knew very well what was going on there, did very little to put in place the measures to have prevented it, and then impeded investigators, according to the ABC Board.

While published without a byline, the post speaks in the first person:

“We are compelled to make this statement because much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and to some media outlets related to this incident, and Mood Lounge in general, is wrong.”

One might logically question whether this “newspaper” was relying on a ghost writer with extremely close connections to the editorial’s subject, if you know what I mean.  But that’s beside the point.

And yet, Mood Lounge The Ethiopian Times was just winding up with its caterwauling about the nonexistent harassment:

“The true issue appears to be the perception perpetuated by select neighbors that the Lounge’s patrons are undesirable.  It is unfortunate that in 2011 and 2012 that a person’s skin color or attire can cause them to be prejudged as undesirable and somehow unsafe.   The Mood Lounge is patronized primarily by Ethiopians and African Americans over the age of 21.”

(Slight digression. “Primarily” must be the operative phrase, because police discovered a 19-year-old was among the patrons on the night of the stabbings.)

Ah, yes, the nuclear option of modern politics: utterly baseless charges of racism.  It’s craven, dishonest and disgusting.  It’s intellectual laziness, a sure sign that you’re losing the argument.

You’ve heard of Godwin’s Law, right? It states with only mild irony that every online discussion will eventually degenerate into somebody comparing somebody else to Nazis or Hitler.  Maybe it’s time to propose “Mimi’s Corollary,” named for the scofflaw owner of Mood Lounge, Ababa “Mimi” Beyene.

There are a host of establishments within the boundaries of ANC 2F, past and present, that have had primarily African American or minority clientele. Not a single one of them in recent memory has generated even a sliver of a slice of the complaints, pandemonium, and violations of law and regulations that Mood Lounge has inflicted on the community with relative impunity.

I have received literally hundreds if not, by now, thousands of emails from neighbors who have been on the receiving end of this abuse.  ANC 2F has heard from them at multiple meetings, and many commissioners have spoken with them outside the context of official meetings.  Not once have I heard any of them utter a single word that would call their motives into question.  It’s awfully rich that Mood Lounge The Ethiopian Times would brilliantly deduce that “skin color” is at the root of this, when the neighbors themselves are an extremely diverse lot.

So let’s put this putrid little canard to rest, stop putting the accusers on trial, and start focusing on the issues at hand, shall we?

Instead, let’s get back to the exquisite timing alluded to above.

Just one day–one day–after this pathetic and invidiously crafted protestation of innocence, the ABC Board released its ruling on noise violations at Mood Lounge, stemming from a “show cause” hearing on Dec. 7, 2011.  To put it mildly, the Board wasn’t buying it.  Let’s skip to the ironic dessert before we enjoy the tasty entree:

“[W]e find that the Respondent guilty [sic] of the violation described in Charge I.”

In its Conclusions of Law, the ABC Board put the smack-down on Mood’s see-no-evil, hear-no-evil shtick:

“We find that the Government has shown through substantial evidence that the Respondent violated the terms of its Voluntary Agreement by playing music audible in The Nine condominiums and failing to cure the noise issues within the 30-day cure period. […]

“[T]he Board can only conclude that the Respondent has failed to cure the violation.

“We are not persuaded by the Respondent’s arguments that its actions in this matter were reasonable or that the noise and vibrations observed in The Nine are not a material violation of the agreement. The Respondent’s arguments regarding reasonableness are irrelevant in this matter. Section 6 of the Voluntary Agreement is clear that the neighboring residents should not hear noise or vibrations from the establishment in their residences. The establishment had 30 days after receiving notice from The Nine condominium owners to resolve the problem; yet, the noise issues returned two to three weeks after the sound test on May 19, 2011. As such, because the establishment failed to cure the violation, it is liable for violating the Voluntary Agreement.

“In addition, we also find that the noise experienced by The Nine condominium owners is a material violation of the Voluntary Agreement. […]

“The Voluntary Agreement is clear that the establishment’s neighbors have a right not to hear noise and vibrations in their residences. Thus, this prohibition is an essential term of the agreement, and necessary to ensure the neighborhood ‘s peace, order, and quiet. Any other interpretation would deny ANC 2F the benefit of its bargain with the Respondent.”

Sadly, despite the tongue-lashing, the ABC Board has been far too timid and, in the opinion of at least some ANC commissioners, is breaking the law by not permitting the commission to offer the advice to which we are statutorially entitled during last month’s hearing–not to be confused with the December hearing–in the wake of a double stabbing outside Mood Lounge.  The Board’s response to that bloody night in December was essentially to ask Mood Lounge to abide by the security plan that they were required to have in the first place.  Their response to the noise violations ruled upon today: a $500 fine.

Clearly something is wrong with this picture.

Meanwhile, the hits just keep on coming:  Yet another show-cause hearing is in the offing for additional noise violations, and ABC actions regarding still more violations are also pending.  One of these is Mood’s failure to keep a required log of the multitude of complaints that have been lodged against them.

Another, which the ANC voted upon this past Wednesday, relates to an assault that took place on Oct. 30, 2011, the alleged perpetrator of which was the promoter of the event that evening at Mood Lounge.  Teferi Getu Desta has reportedly been arrested in connection with the incident.

So ANC 2F has been engaging in “harassment”? Nonsense.  We’re just doing our job.

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