D.C. Church Leaders Join Fight Against Extended Bar Hours
A day after Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Bob Bennett called on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and D.C. Council members to rescind the emergency law that will let bars and nightclubs stay open around the clock from Jan. 17-21 for the inauguration, District church leaders have joined the opposition.
The Downtown Cluster of Congregations, a nonprofit ecumenical association, sent a letter to the mayor citing several reasons why allowing alcohol to be served until 5 a.m. -- several hours later than usual -- is a bad idea.
The letter, signed by Executive Director Terrance Lynch, echoed the concerns of Feinstein and Bennett that the later hours would tax police officers, potentially compromising their ability to focus on inaugural security. But the church leaders went further, citing possible problems in neighborhoods near the entertainment districts.
Lynch writes that "two months ago Chief [Cathy] Lanier responded to what was described as a crime emergency in Adams Morgan owing to impacts from the night life venues, with a large increase in robberies and assaults. In response MPD dramatically increased coverage for the area. Yet now the proposal is to increase the hours and length of service of alcoholic beverages in a neighborhood with a history of safety problems?"
Although Fenty had objected to including the city's 48 nightclubs in the legislation, he has said he will sign it into law. Last night, the mayor's spokesperson released a statement from him that was remarkable only for its vagueness and refusal to address the questions at hand--namely, does the mayor share Feinstein's and Bennett's concerns?
"My Administration will do everything possible to ensure the safety and well being of residents and visitors during the inauguration period," the statement read.
(Read the full letter from the Downtown Cluster of Congregations after the jump.)
Dec. 10, 2008 Mayor Adrian Fenty Wilson Building 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20004 re: Proposed Extension of Bar Hours of Service / Operation
Dear Mayor Fenty,
The Downtown Cluster of Congregations strongly opposes the extension of service hours of alcoholic beverages.
The reasons for this are several. The residents and surrounding businesses of the areas most impacted had little to no opportunity to comment on this proposal. It has been known for some time the Inaugural dates, and yet this has been enacted on an emergency basis? Those that will have to cope with potential secondary impacts from the events and services at establishments that remain open and serving were not given full opportunity to comment on this proposal, and their concerns should have been fully aired and weighed prior to any changes.
There is concern that the safety personnel for the city will be stretched too far to provide adequate coverage. While I understand police and safety personnel will be coming from other jurisdictions, they certainly will not be familiar with the neighborhoods needing coverage. Priority will most likely occur for all federal locations and the inaugural route, the motorcades, national and international VIPS, and other sensitive locations. While I know MPD personnel will do their utmost, this will present another significant duty amongst many they will face in coping with such an unprecedented number of visitors. As experienced as DC personnel is, this event will likely surpass all others in scale and public safety needs.
I would note that two months ago Chief Lanier responded to what was
described as a crime emergency in Adams Morgan owing to impacts from the night life venues, with a large increase in robberies and assaults. In response MPD dramatically increased coverage for the area. Yet now the proposal is to increase the hours and length of service of alcoholic beverages in a neighborhood with a history of safety problems?
Yes, the Inauguration is an event to be celebrated. There are ample
hours and venues for celebration that include alcohol service. However, service up until 5 am can quite possibly have negative impacts upon neighborhoods and quality of life issues and if such does occur, mar this national event.
The extension applies to include the Martin Luther King Holiday -
is such expanded hours of alcohol service in the spirit of that holiday?
The Downtown Cluster of Congregations urges that the extension be reconsidered and rescinded.
cc: DC City Council
David A Nakamura
December 10, 2008; 12:52 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Cheh Moves a Step Closer on Subpoena for Sequoia Voting Systems
Next: Fenty Planning Inauguration Party With ... Kanye West?
Posted by: concernedaboutdc | December 10, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mrstraighttalk | December 11, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.