OPINION: SantaCon-flict—A City At Odds

OPINION: SantaCon-flict—A City At Odds

by Frank Marciano, Marciano Law

There’s no doubt that the people that put together SantaCon in Hoboken this year are going to get a big lump of coal in their stocking.

The horror stories of abuse to police officers, bars over-crowding and ABC liquor violations are starting to flood the internet. Couple that with confusion over the “charitable component” of the day-long drinking event, and the community is clearly at odds over what steps to take next to ensure this doesn’t happen next year (or any year, for that matter).

The community is now rallying to have Hoboken ban the event, but being a public gathering, the legalities and reality of such a ban are not so simple. So, Hoboken’s elected officials are taking a slower, less-risky approach (after all, we have 363 more days to sort this all out). Here’s why:

The Mayor-Elect recently shared the news of a growing Change.org petition started by a ‘Hoboken Resident’ that has seen over 400 signatures in just a few days. The goal of the petition is to present participating bars with the community’s concerns. While it may be a longshot that a petition like this one will succeed in opening the doors to discussions, the initial move is quite attuned to reality.

There needs to be a balance between satisfying local businesses, visitors, and residents, and the best initial approach is to have an open dialogue. Believe it or not, a government simply stepping in and saying, “we’ll shut this down forever” may cause more problems than we are experiencing now. This petition is a great (and legal) start to engage in constructive criticism, since I think all parties can agree that we will not have another repeat of this year’s event.

There are a lot of emotions and dollars in the mix, as there is no question that the event brings money into the Mile Square City. It is easy to assume that bar owners get ‘rich’ off of the day’s mayhem. But, representing a good number of local bars, I can see that the event does benefit many more people than the owners’ pockets.

Bars need to increase their staff and hire more security to accommodate the larger crowds (except for those that are stupid enough to not have security), which provides additional wages. There is an uptick in the foot traffic around retail establishments, the fast-food restaurants see a big increase in business. Based on the number of half-eaten pizza slices scattered outside my office this morning I know the Hoboken pizza business shops were hopping.

Because of this, Hoboken’s Mayoral office will need to tread lightly on how it legally approaches rectifying this situation. Compiling the community’s feedback is a good way to allow residents to voice their concerns in a controlled forum, and is a great start.

I have full confidence that this will all get sorted out. In the meantime, I will continue to follow the drama unfolding on Chief Ferrante’s Twitter, and I look forward to finding out where all of the money raised for “charity” will be donated.

Attorney Frank Marciano of Hoboken-based Marciano Law traces his Hoboken roots back to the early 1900’s when his grandparents migrated from Naples, Italy and Marseilles, France to set up a fruit and vegetable stand on Fifth Street, between Madison and Jefferson.

Frank spent his undergraduate years studying at Franklin Marshall College and returned to Hoboken after graduating from Seton Hall Law School more than 20 years ago to open Marciano Law. Since then, Frank has acquired an extensive range of experience and expertise while handling the many different legal matters affecting the people of this area.

Authored by: hMAG