Editorial: Trust the process on Italo-American Club

Posted 10/1/21

Government processes can be extensive and take lots of time — and that's a good thing in the case of whether or not to revoke the liquor license of the Italo-American Club in Warren.

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Editorial: Trust the process on Italo-American Club


Although the ultimate decision of whether or not the Italo-American Club of Warren will keep its liquor license has yet to be determined, to this point, the process by which its fate is being determined has been an example of government working the way it should.

Although it is typical to mock government agencies for their lengthy, bureaucratic procedures, it is in cases such as this where we should recognize and be reminded that all of those procedures are in place for good reason.

To date, each side in this delicate situation have played their hand as reasonably as can be expected.

The Town of Warren, through its own solicitor and town council — representatives of the community at large — have made it clear that they feel decisive action is warranted to punish the establishment where a heinous and truly unprecedented crime took place. A crime of such significance, it inflicted deep wounds throughout the community. It is entirely acceptable for them to make that case.

And although it may inspire derision within that wounded community, it is also acceptable and within the rights of the club’s patrons and its leadership to raise the counter-argument that they should not be held responsible as a whole for the actions of one person — a man who is now deceased and no longer a threat to the community.

The Department of Business Regulations is also acting as it must. In observing the facts as they have been presented, they have determined that there is cause to allow the club to continue serving alcohol under new restrictions, pending a full hearing to flesh out more details from the investigation and hear more testimony from each side.

It might seem arduous, and particularly painful for those most intimately affected by the tragedy that occurred at the club, but this is precisely what good government looks like. It is a process, through which all sides and perspectives can be shared, weighed equally on their merits under the established precedents of the law, and then ruled upon by a neutral party who is emotionally removed from the situation.

The discussion opens up new avenues of debate as well, such as the role of an establishment like the Italo-American Club in a community like Warren. Is there a value (outside of the 25 to 30 people who regularly attend it) to having such an establishment for the greater community that would be lost if they were to close down for good? Should the club be allowed a second chance to reinvent itself as a community asset (which those arguing on behalf of its history have claimed was its original purpose), or has it lost that opportunity due to the dark act of violence?

These are all conversations worth having, and the procedures that facilitate them are at the heart of what makes this democracy function. All should respect the process and await the final result before jumping to conclusions about whether the “correct” action has been taken.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.