Publisher's Note ó Bars are wrong UL target

By Jody Reese

God help us, but the New Hampshire Union Leader has been on one of its little crusades lately. This time the enemy isnít taxes, women or gays, but Manchesterís nightlife.

Thatís right. Drinking is bad. Bars are dens of violence. And, oh yeah, close them all down.

In a series of articles and editorials over the past several weeks, the Union Leader has argued that Manchesterís downtown is out of control, even though police say there isnít a problem. To bolster its argument, the Union Leader cited arrests at bars and nightclubs in the last year, but provided no comparisons to arrests the year before or arrest rates in other towns or cities, making it impossible for readers to know if Manchesterís numbers are high or low. Police say they are normal. More than that, the Union Leaderís own data showed that one club, Omega, accounted for more than five times as many arrests as the bar with the second-highest number. So if there is a problem, and that isnít clear at all, is it only with one club? Again, police say there is no problem. The article also failed to break down the number of arrests into serious and not-so-serious incidents. An arrest for a college student trying to pass off a fake ID isnít as serious as an arrest for assault, but the Union Leader article counted them the same.

Nightlife may seen like an easy target for the Union Leader. Politicians rarely defend someoneís opportunity to drink and dance, although they should.

Nightlife and things that happen after midnight are vital to Manchesterís economic life, and not for the reason you might think.

Manchesterís master plan calls for a creative economy built on research-and-development jobs, like the ones Dean Kamenís DEKA Research and Development creates, and white-collar corporate jobs, such as the ones Riverstone Resources or AutoDesk Software create.

Nightlife is vital to fill these jobs. The people (mostly under 45) that fill those jobs want a nightlife. And the money they spend has begun to create one, encouraging entrepreneurs to open a variety of night spots, from pool rooms to dance clubs to martini bars.

If the Union Leader were to have its way and close down most of the bars and restaurants downtown, many people wouldnít stay. Without a skilled workforce, companies, such as AutoDesk and Riverstone might have to move. Great economic opportunities would be lost.

2005 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH