BAR WARS...and one Alderman's Unwillingness to communicate ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

BAR WARS...and one Alderman's Unwillingness to communicate

City Council is considering legislation that will allow bars in Annapolis to stay open until 2 am. Those already restricted to operating until midnight only cry foul because they have to close 2 hours before other bars. Downtown residents are generally opposed to the 2 am closures and they see this as a quality of life issue. If statute forces those currently allowed to open until 2 a.m. to now close at midnight, you can see where this is going.
CP, being the good liberal that he is (sort of) has the problem of seeing two sides of every issue, or more (if I've had more than three beers). However, I come down on the side of the residents. We have enough unresolved issues of crime, noise and crowds and the additional hours of intoxicating nightlife lead to more urinating in public places, more rabble rousing in the streets, more drunk-driving etc. But again, CP must ask, can't we all get along? Can we not figure out a way to make a compromise? (see for another take). CP has witnessed such downtown debates since the late 1970's over issues such as trash collection, parking etc., etc. Such is life in the city.
Bars and saloons offer residents few if any benefits. CP has little interest in going downtown or in patronizing its businesses except the occasional foray to one of our many fine restaurants on a special occasion, or even to have a few beers, but being a family man (and needing to post to this blog!), it's never past the midnight hour. CP offers no new ideas on this one, except why can't we compromise somehow?
Certainly it is unfair to say midnight for some and 2 am for the rest. But it's also unfair to say 2 am for ALL the residents. Whose rights will be respected? How about allowing all bars to go to 2 am for another year, than to 1 am for the following year and then midnight for all? Surely, this will please some and others will want to demonize me for this suggestion.
We have rising crime and a police force stretched thin and perhaps to be stretched even further over time. We need to focus more on the rights of residents and homeowners as opposed to the kicks and thrills of bar hoppers and the profit motivations of a small number of businesses.
CP's own representative, Alderman Ross Arnett sent an email out to constituents on October 18 describing the bill:

O-23-07 Allowing Any Class of ABC License to Permit Operating Hours Until 2 a.m. – For the purpose of permitting the holder of any alcoholic beverage license to serve alcoholic beverages until 2 a.m. This legislation will make it easier to get a 2 am license, although the applicant will still need to meet zoning requirements.

CP has no idea where Arnett stands. A neighbor of CP sent a reply to Arnett:

Dear Ross,
I just wanted to put in our two cents about 2 am closings for bars (0-23-07 and R-30-07 FY 2008). [My husband] and I are both VERY opposed to this as many studies show that NOTHING good happens after midnight. People just get drunker and that is when the majority of crime and violence happens. Also, since this city is struggling to hire police officers (and we have many fewer than we should) why stretch the existing force with more trouble than we need after midnight? Doesn't really make sense does it? Thanks for listening.

CP never received the email from Arnett and wrote asking him to be sure to be included on all such emails and to reply with a confirmation. Arnett did not respond as asked, however CP did receive an email a few days later regarding 911 police calls (okay-so what number we do call you at Ross?). Furthermore, Arnett has not responded to the email from CP's friend sent on October 19 and today is the 23rd. CP spoke with another Eastport resident today who said Arnett has not responded to two emails and he received the following email from a local political activist:

I have heard from everyone that Ross is terrible at returning calls. Isn't he retired? What is he doing all day?

Good question, Ross. CP will be posting more on this issue soon. Meanwhile, you can vote in this week's survey about the bar issue (see upper left of this page).


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