Council Member Starnes: I would like to personally ensure that you clearly understand what a disservice you have done to Atlantans in your actions to close down Backstreet Atlanta. You closed down a business that paid millions of dollars in taxes to the city of Atlanta yearly. Your hand brought down the axe that closed a business on the list of "Top Ten Things to do in Atlanta." This building, in all its daytime modesty, was a haven for Atlanta's gay population, which I'm sure you're aware is exploding. Not only was it a place of joy and acceptance for the gay community - this club opened its doors to EVERYONE, including the likes of celebrities such as Will Ferrell and Janet Jackson, to name only TWO of the numerous famous patrons.
Backstreet was a FAMILY business. You don't see many of those these days. I am a college student and I live with Andrea Vara. Her father and aunt, Henry and Vicki Vara, owned Backstreet, which they took over from their father when he passed away last year. This family gave not only financial support to the city of Atlanta, but they have all given their personal support to many of Atlanta's charitable endeavors over the past 30 years. I have attended NUMEROUS charity functions with my roommate within the past two years that I've known her and her family. This family prides themselves on being citizens of Atlanta and on their love for their community. They have given of themselves more graciously and more quietly than anyone I have EVER had the pleasure of knowing.
I hope that you have gotten some semblence of satisfaction out of closing an Atlanta landmark based on a few residents' complaints. That club has been in the same place for 30 years. Every single homeowner within its radius purchased their property with the knowledge that a popular club was operating nearby. And don't tell me that the noise level increased, because I know for a FACT that Backstreet was more orderly during the past 3 years than it ever has been. Due to prior complaints, the Varas hired off-duty Atlanta city police officers to keep order at the club. And, as I understand it, those officers were making more money at Backstreet than the city cared to pay them for their service.
So I'd like to thank you, Ms. Starnes. Thank you for putting a 3-generation family business out of operation. Thank you for deciding that a HANDFUL of citizen's complaints were more important than THOUSANDS of Atlantan's testimonies. I understand that you told the License Review Board that Backstreet was a "nightmare" that needed to be closed down. You were wrong. The nightmare is your term as an Atlanta City Council Member. Your interests lie in a personal position. Your job as a council member is to make decisions in the best interest of the entire city of Atlanta. Congratulations, Ms. Starnes. You have failed miserably.
Backstreet Lives On Through Us,