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Serge Becker: Community Boards are Kangaroo Courts

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A Wall Street Journal article today elaborates on restaurateur Ken Friedman's announcement earlier this month that he and a group of fellow restaurant owners are launching a lobby group and trade association. It will work together with the city chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association and aims to "establish more balanced representation on community boards, a revamped 311 citizen complaint hot line and improved standards and training programs for inspectors in various city agencies."

It sounds like the main issues here are the city's red tape and costs associated with inspections and permits—Ken Friedman notes that "we've been treated like an ATM machine"—inconsistent inspections, and, most crucially, the power of the community boards when it comes to liquor license approval. La Esquina's Serge Becker, who went through quite an ordeal this year with two different NIMBY groups, comments, "They are basically kangaroo courts, there's no rhyme or reason...It's just become unbearable to do any business in the city. It's reached the breaking point." The group has the support of Stephen Hanson, Keith McNally, Taavo Somer, Sean MacPherson, and Eric Goode.
· Eateries Hunger For More Clout [WSJ]