City, private businesses need partnership

Published 11:01 pm Saturday, June 23, 2012

Last week was one that was originally not on the schedule for the Selma City Council. But, last week, the Selma City Council may have set forth one of the strongest messages about what they want for Selma’s historic downtown.

During a hearing, the council voted unanimously — if you don’t count the two who abstained — to revoked the business license of Club Entourage.

For 16 years, Clyde Richardson ran the Alabama Avenue bar, but it was the last three Selma Police and the Selma City Council felt were the most troublesome.

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Police showed reports for the past three years showing they had been called to the club more than 70 times over those three years. Some of those calls were for such things as a traffic stop, but there were also calls for fights, assaults and even a shooting that resulted in a death.

During the hearing, Richardson and his attorney worked to question the validity and amount of calls reported. Many of those incidents, they said, occurred outside the club, where club officials have no control.

Throughout the hearing, it was called into doubt whether the police and city have made it clear to club owners what is expected of them when it comes to ensuring their safety and the safety of their patrons.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

On multiple occasions, club owners have been invited to and sat in on meetings with city officials and police. They have been told they need to provide better security, better train their staffs and call police when needed.

Another meeting is planned for this week, but will this meeting provide the clarity and partnership among city, police and club owners that is so desperately needed?

We will see.

But, what must be done and done soon, is for the council and mayor to come out and state what their vision for Selma’s historic downtown is.

And, after putting it into words, begin immediately in following through.

Was there evidence to revoke the licenses of The Loft, 12th Stone and Club Entourage in the past two years? Yes.

Is there further evidence that a strong partnership must be formed between private businesses and the city? Absolutely.

If that partnership, which has already been started over the years, truly grows to a strong bond, then it is not only the business owners who will succeed, all of Selma will benefit.