Cyberstalking and noise abatement

Today’s newspaper ran a brief article that reported that “noise” opponent and lawyer Stuart Smith pleaded guilty to a cyberstalking charge and was given a one-year suspended sentence, and two years of  inactive probation. Smith didn’t appear in court but sent another attorney to represent him.

Smith was charged with sending a threatening text message to French Quarter Management District Chairman Robert Watters; in addition Smith also sent a threatening email to then-Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer; however Palmer did not file charges.

Lest we forget, remember that Smith and his firm Smith-Stagg have been involved in numerous lawsuit against many businesses in the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny, including the 544 Club, Pat O’Brien’s, Court of The Two Sisters, Antoine’s, Mimi’s in the Marigny and several more. His firm is also involved in a lawsuit filed by a resident of the Jax Brewery Condominiums against the Jackson Brewery Bistro and Bar regarding noise violations.

Unfortunately, bullying tactics are obviously part of Smith’s repertoire; there was evidence of his tactics on his website and on YouTube when he deposed sound expert Dave Woolworth and used the taped depositions to try to discredit Woolworth’s credibility. Woolworth had  to hire an attorney to get the offensive depositions removed.

Attorney Smith is no gentleman, but he’s obviously a damned good plaintiff attorney. Too bad he has to use bullying and threats to try to get his way.

But enough about him.

The city is still working on its Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance revamp. One issue that continues to come up is noise remediation. I am 100 percent for music in neighborhood venues, bars and music clubs. I just do not have any patience for people who move in next to a bar and then complain about the music coming from inside the venue. However, I do believe in neighborliness. If there are enough complaints, the venue should voluntarily do noise remediation, and do it properly to cut down on any disturbance to residents. This obviously could be expensive, but (as I’ve suggested before) in order to preserve our heritage of live music, the city of New Orleans should offer a tax credit or rebate to venues that can prove that they’ve ameliorated any sound bleed by the installation of noise-reduction equipment or construction. I also don’t believe there should be any so-called grandfathering of clubs that have been operating without sound-dampening equipment. If you want to have music in your restaurant or bar, then you should do the neighborly thing and keep the music inside your establishment.

The music outside is another issue entirely, but that’s another blog!

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