Monday, January 26, 2009

Update on Woody's Case

(Editor's Note: Woody's, located at 3710 N. Oracle, owned by two great individuals to Tucson and Southern Arizona's LGBT community, Dave Huff and Frank Schepis have been targeted as previously reported in the Observer (print, online and blog) here, here and here. What follows is an update from Robert Rowley, received by the Observer by E-mail and reflects the views of Rowley and not necessarily those of the Observer, its writers and staff.)

Eight years ago Dave Huff and Frank Shepis opened a GLBT club here in Tucson called Woody's at 3710 North Oracle. Prior to this they had owned two other GLBT clubs here as well. Dave and Frank have been the foremost supporters of the GLBT community in this half of the state, supporting and having fundraisers for such things as AIDSWalk, Turnabout for TIHAN, the first Katrina benefit in the state and far, far more. The have supported political campaigns, Wingspan, SAAF, Desert Voices and have been the foremost sponsors of Outoberfest and Tucson Pride. Dave and Frank have done more for our community, fought more for equality and civil rights than anyone else in the business community in Southern Arizona. Now they need our help.

3 years ago, Laurence Court Apartments, directly North of Woody's, brought in a new manager, Linda Diane Howeth. Prior to this Woody's had had not one problem. Upon Mrs. Howeth's arrival noise complaints started being made to Tucson Police. Prior to this neither Joe and Vicky's (directly to the South of Woody's) nor Woody's itself had ANY noise complaints. Several patrons of Woody's who lived at Laurence Court Apartments have stated that Linda Howeth has questioned them about hanging out with "those kinds of people" (gays and lesbians) and made several off color comments both about Woody's and it's customers. After Mrs. Howeth took over management, beer bottles, rocks and firecrackers started, at times to fly over the roof or the Apartments and into Woody's parking lot (no damage being done). During these incidents, TPD refused to act on attempts to file complaints and manager Linda Howeth has denied the events have happened.

As an aside, Woody's, located at 3710 North Oracle Road is in an area zoned by the City of Tucson as C-2, a commercial zone in which one finds food and beverage services. C-2 zoning does not allow for Apartments, Traveler accommodations yes, but not Apartments. No record exists showing that the Laurence Court Apartments, owned by Laurence W. and Mary Vicks Currie of Sedona for the past 15 years, were ever grandfathered nor given any variance which would allow them to continue operation of this very low rent apartment property at its address.

Earlier this year, following another noise complaint made by the swell manager at Laurence Court, a TPD officer by the name of Pena showed up at Woody's and ARRESTED Dave Huff. On a noise violation. Charges were dismissed and Dave released the next day. A week later Officer Pena again showed up at Woody's and this time arrested the entire staff (minus Dave). Again charges were dismissed. Begin vendetta.

This brings us up to the present. About 5 months ago, during an early evening wine tasting, two Tucson Police officers (one being Officer Pena) showed up due to another noise complaint (wine tastings being loud and rowdy events) from Laurence Court Apts. The bar manager was called, Jeff, who, minutes later arrived at the bar for his regular shift. Upon arriving Jeff was cited for an "unruly event" despite the fact that he had not even been there. The lead Officer then charged Woody's separately with unruly gathering and Officer Pena informed this officer that she recommended red tagging and told him how to go about doing it. Now, an interesting thing. Only one other bar has been red tagged in Tucson in the past 15 years. The bar which was red tagged was in the middle of a residential neighborhood in the U of A area. Red tagging is reserved for bars which have a long history of trouble and a serious list of offenses, something that Woody's had not. Woody's had no criminal or trouble complaints and was yet "red tagged". Officer Pena was quoted as saying that she was not the call officer but simply the back up.

Two weeks ago TPD arrived at Woody's with a state liquor inspector, bottles were checked, records gone over with a fine toothed comb...not one violation. Was this random? Don't bet on it

By now your probably starting to understand what we have here. Linda from Laurence Court started trying to close a gay establishment simply because it is a gay establishment. In this she found an ally in TPD Officer Pena. Officer Pena was let down by the coourts whom she supposed would back her up. When the courts dismissed charges against Dave she went back and had his staff arrested. When the courts again didn't side with her she used an obscure ordinance to try to close the club. Old fashioned Vendetta, nothing more. For too long, Tucson Police Department has thought it was THE authority in Tucson and basically done as it pleased. If a TPD officer says something is so then it is so. Now, Officer Pena with her tool Linda has found she cannot get what she wants and now TPD is trying to back her u (police officers NEVER doing anything wrong).

Here are some associated facts:

---A bar on 4th Avenue with houses right behind them across the alley, a bar with an outside patio at the rear of the building with a DJ and dancing, was granted an afterhours permit by TPD. Oddly enough this bar owner has a brother on the Tucson Police force.

---Each time there has been trouble with TPD at Woody's, Officer Pena has been involved. Every time.

---Officers friendly to Woody's have stated after looking at police records and liquor records that several highly questionable comments and entries can be found therein.

---Tenants of Laurence Court Apartments have stated, on record, that Linda Howeth has, during all this, handed them pre written letters, noise complaint letters, for them to sign.

Linda Howeth is a tool, a tool of a rouge Tucson Police Officer who is being covered for by the Department for which she works. This form of harassment being perpetualted against Woody's could be used by TPD or neighbors against ANY Tucson business. If you own property and rent to a bar, under this law you, as property owner could lose your license or be fined if the bar is charged. In this case it is simply an obvious attempt by a homophobic apartment manager and an anti gay TPD officer to put out of business two of the hardest working, supportive and most considerate supporters of the GLBT community any of us have known.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

rotfl was that the same court "gay dave" was sentenced to DV in for assault against females he dated? btw when did he "come out?"

still rolling.