Monday, January 18, 2010

Old Elks fire curtain reveals original artwork

Regular readers know that Courier coverage of the Elks is a regular feature here, and indulge me. This piece appeared over the weekend.

Cindy couldn't know that her lead --

For nearly 100 years, the asbestos fire curtain stood as a safeguard between the sometimes-combustible activities on the stage of the Elks Opera House and the people in the audience.
-- draws a chuckle from every theatre professional who's worked the Elks.

The fire curtain, known in theatre parlance as the asbestos, is a required system in every theatre since the 1903 Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago, which in killing 600 theatre patrons brought in many new rules for theatre safety systems and procedures. Asbestos systems are designed to bring the curtain down automatically to contain fire on the stage. They can be triggered manually as well.

Until it was taken down a few years ago, the Elks asbestos had been frozen and inoperable for at least twenty years and probably a lot longer. The Elks Theatre (is not, never has been and never could be an opera house) was almost exclusively a movie house for many decades, and so didn't need a working asbestos until Yavapai College took it over in the late '80s. The college never provided the funding to bring the theatre up to code, and so this and many other systems remained in neglect through the Prescott College period (when I rejected it as a venue for the Shakespeare Festival as unsafe) and the City's takeover.

The City's plans for "renovation" have so far not publicly included the necessary equipment and safety-system upgrades to pass a state inspection and open legally. I hope the City's not going to be surprised by this.

County supervisors oppose pro-union bill

Linda (or her editor?) steps right off into deep doo-doo:

"Hoping to stop a bill that would require states and local governments to unionize some employees, ..."
The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, which passed the House in '07 with bipartisan support and remains stuck in Senate committee process, would not require any government to unionize anyone. Put it down to incompetence if you like, but this is exactly the wrong impression the radical corporatists would have you believe, and therefore the Courier is either taken in by the propaganda or complicit in it.

The bill's purpose is ensure the rights of police officers, fire-fighters and other specifically public-safety workers (hence the name) to form and join unions and to bargain collectively. If you don't think they should be allowed to do that, you should rightfully oppose this bill. The rest of us think it's perfectly OK, and that unions are not the threat to this country that the right loves to characterize. But allowing people to unionize, I'm sure every reader must agree, is not anything like the same as requiring employers to create unions.

I think the Courier ought to be getting a ton of letters and comments on this little agitprop move. It's ugly.