Score one for the "little guy", as this week a Winnebago County Judge rules against the City of Oshkosh in its lawsuit against the founder of the Downtown Pub Crawl. The judge found that Joe Kubiak--the man that drama queen Mayor Steve Cummings once claimed was "holding the city hostage"--is not responsible for securing a special event permit or paying the fee for that permit. It ends a nearly two-year legal battle between the two sides--that only added more to the taxpayers' expense.
So, you are probably wondering why am I celebrating Joe Kubiak's win just a couple of days after throwing my support behind charging Sawdust Days more in special event fees. The answer is simple: the Pub Crawl takes place in private businesses--not public facilities--and really does not require any additional city services. Pub Crawl doesn't tie up two-thirds of a park. It doesn't force the closure of streets or boat landings. It doesn't keep other people from using ball diamonds, tennis courts or picnic shelters. And it doesn't plug into city-owned electrical or plumbing systems.
The city accrues added expenses on the nights of Pub Crawls because officials believe almost every available police officer on the force needs to be in the downtown area just because more people than usual are drinking. But if that means Pub Crawl needs to have a special event permit and to pay for the added police "protection"--who foots the bill on New Year's Eve, when there are a lot more people out drinking (and more driving drunk as well)? How about on Saint Patrick's Day? Do the Catholic Churches get sent bills because they are the one's "scheduling" the event? Or Cinco de Mayo? Are we billing the Mexican Consulate in Chicago? Should Mark Murphy expect a summons to appear in court because the Packers didn't get a special event permit to allow people to celebrate another Super Bowl appearance by packing area bars?
Besides, the city made back a nice chunk of change this past fall when they--with the blessing of Chancellor Andrew Leavitt--busted a number of underage drinking parties in the campus area before Pub Crawl even started. And if they need more revenue, just increase the fines for open container violations and public urination citations--which are the most "heinous crimes" committed on those nights.
Knowing the nature of some of the city leaders, this fight is not nearly done. Get ready for round two--which will be the City of Oshkosh versus the Downtown Bar Owners. Remember, the cops were keeping a list of taverns that served "crawlers"--and they will be labeled the next "hostage takers".