Monday, November 19, 2012
Proud to End Up in Court
Our goal was simple - to send a strong message to the State District Court decision-makers that Duluth business owners are tired of putting up with the shenanigans occurring at the Last Place on Earth. To do so, the Chamber's leadership encouraged business community members to fill the courtroom to capacity for the civil court hearing involving the Last Place on Earth. The hearing took place Friday, November 9.
The courtroom was packed to capacity. Additionally, dozens of citizens, who did not arrive early enough to secure a seat in the courtroom, stood outside the courtroom doors. It was a rare occurrence for business owners and operators to unite and stand in solidarity in opposition to a local business. In this case, the cause was to illustrate how the Last Place on Earth was negatively impacting Downtown businesses. Judge Shaun Floerke praised attendees for participating in this public process.
Those of us in attendance heard the City of Duluth's case against this business. A representative of the City of Duluth Attorney's Office, Nathan LaCoursiere, argued the Last Place on Earth has become a serious threat to public health and safety. The representative also contended that the store meets the state's definition of a nuisance business, which should allow the City to be empowered to modify or discontinue the store's operations.
The assistant city attorney noted that police have responded to more than 2,000 calls due to problems associated with business, indicating that customers of the store are disrupting nearby businesses. The store has cost the City of Duluth more than $100,000 in additional police costs. His contention was that no business has the right to operate in a way that harms the community around them.
The court hearing concluded with Judge Shaun Floerke indicating he planned to delay any decision on whether to ban the sale of some products at the store, or temporarily close the store with an injunction, until more evidence and additional legal briefs are filed by attorneys on both sides of this case. Jim Carlson, the owner of the Last Place on Earth, had his day in court. It appears he will have additional days as well. By attending the court hearing, other business owners and operators also had their day in court. While we did not have our voice heard in court, we had our presence felt.
This was our first public opportunity to collectively convey concerns related to the Last Place on Earth. We hold no grand illusion that we influenced the legal system - nor did we seek to do so. We place our full faith in the legal process. Attending the hearing simply provided us a chance to gather together, in solidarity, to illustrate our shared concern. It was a time of community building. I am pleased and proud to have joined my brothers and sisters from the business community in this public display of unity.
David Ross, President & CEO
posted by David Ross