The 21-day suspension of Chameleons’ liquor license, and the choice words by members of the Pittsfield Licensing Board, reveal how little patience the board has with problematic taverns and nightclubs. They have long cast the city in an unflattering light and strict penalties imposed by the board are a necessary response.
Monday’s hearing before the Licensing Board stemmed from a shooting in the parking lot of the establishment at 1350 East Street that resulted in the wounding of two patrons. Many Pittsfield nightspots, some no longer in business, have or had the attitude that what goes on in their parking lot is not their concern, and in this case, a doorman, evidently thinking it was the Fourth of July, wrote off the shootings as fireworks, according to Pittsfield Police Officer Michael Murphy. Officer Murphy, however, informed the board that surveillance video showed the doorman ducking inside the club as the shots were fired. "We’re being flimflammed," declared Acting Chairman Robert Quattrochi, who was plainly offended by the attempt.
A crowd of about 120 was in attendance for an event that attracted people under the age of 21, who have no business being at a nightclub where alcohol is served. The ID scanner was out of order as was the metal detector. All of this, compounded by the doorman’s lame alibi, led to a unanimous vote to suspend the license, and there is no guarantee it will be restored.
That the suspension will cause "extreme financial hardship" in the words of Chameleons’ owner is not the Licensing Board’s problem. That penalty could have been avoided by the proper running of the nightclub. The board’s responsibility, as Richard Stockwell said, is to Pittsfield. Tavern and nightclub owners share that responsibility, and those who acknowledge and live up to it are a long way toward a trouble-free tenure in the city.