Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Arizona two-step 2: Paging Kevin Bacon

There are lots of things you can do under the stars in the Arizona desert: you can camp, shoot, go four-wheeling, build a bonfire, search for fossils or dance in the open air.

Oh wait. Strike that last one; you can't dance outside in the Arizona desert -- at least, not in Pinal County.

Pinal County has a musty old ordinance against outdoors dancing, and county officials have inexplicably exhumed that legal antique and used it to slap San Tan Flat, a popular and well-reviewed restaurant and bar with an open-air stage where country-western music is often played. They pulled the dance law out of their hats after earlier efforts to harass San Tan Flat failed to shut the place down.

I've written about this case before, and so have a lot of other people. You'd think that Pinal County officials would have backed down by now, given the ample ridicule to which they've been subject.

But they haven't -- instead, the Board of Supervisors ruled against restaurant owner Dale Bell and has continued its inexplicable crusade in an environment of mounting outrage and disbelief. The hearing transcript is full of choice quotes:

“[T]hat I envisioned it being like stepping back in time 100 years to a mining camp, and I didn’t envision a mining camp, Sir, to be one where you’d read poetry from a stage.” (Tr. Day 1 at 78) (discussing what he envisioned when he wrote down “rustic western restaurant” on his application).

Dale: I didn’t build anything for dance hall activities. I did build a stage for outdoor entertainment; that’s true.

Gruber: And you never mentioned what was in this – when you label it now, in Plaintiff’s Exhibit number nine (indiscernible – mic interference) and went into any detail of what would be happening on that stage, because you told me old west. There’s going to be no poetry, is there, Mr. Bell? No poetry; correct? Is there going to be poetry? Wait –

Dale: What are the rest of the things you said could have happened there? Puppet shows? I’ve heard that one.

Gruber: There could have been a comedian; there could have been mimes, pantomimes.

Represented by the Institute for Justice, San Tan Flat is now appealing the ruling, and permitting its patrons to dance while the case goes forward.

Recently, produced a compelling short documentary on the case, fronted by Drew Carey.

The documentary and the news stories all leave you wondering just whose pocket Pinal County politicians are in.

Why not ask them yourself. Pinal County supervisors can be reached below:

Lionel D. Ruiz
Phone: 520-866-7830
Fax: 520-866-7838

Sandie Smith
Phone: 520-866-6104
Fax: 520-866-6107

David Snider
Phone: 520-866-7401
Fax: 520-836-3876

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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March 18, 2009 11:53 PM  

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