Who's That Telling D.C. Not To Keep Its Bars Open Late?
Look, I happen to believe that the D.C. Council's decision last week to let Washington's bars keep serving alcoholic beverages til 5 a.m. during Inauguration Week is the dumbest idea to come out of the Wilson Building this year. But when the sober solons of Capitol Hill put on their schoolmarm hats and start with their lectures to the District government about how to behave like responsible adults, it's time to put personal views aside.
Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Robert Bennett of Utah have written a stern note to Mayor Adrian Fenty, your basic first step on the road to yet another move by Congress to stomp on the District. Feinstein and Bennett "are deeply concerned that the plan approved by the City Council could seriously strain law enforcement resources that need to be focused on the large crowds and security requirements of the Inaugural and its impact on the City."
Quite true. Even D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is known to be royally, um, unhappy about the council's decision, which was taken without consultation with the chief. (Fenty muzzled the chief's criticism, and she proceeded to duly salute and announce that she's perfectly happy to send her dog-tired officers out to babysit thousands of Obama fans on all-night benders even as the cops work round-the-clock shifts while the city is overrun with Inauguration celebrants.)
But then the senators go on to issue the classic, not-so-subtle warning of impending Hill bigfooting: "We understand the pressures you face from the different constituencies in your city. But we also know the importance of standing firm to ensure the safety of residents, workers and visitors who will be in Washington, D.C., participating in this historic event." Translation: Reverse yourselves, council members, or we'll throw you into a reversal faster than you can say "budget veto."
Now, let's take a quick look at who's interfering in District policy here. Dianne Feinstein is the former mayor of San Francisco, a city in which late-night carousing is not entirely unknown. (California authorities say San Francisco has one of the highest number of bars per capita of any place in the state.)
Indeed, Feinstein was for many years a regular at an establishment known to some as The Washbag--more formally, the Washington Square Bar & Grill, a San Francisco hangout for mayors, pols, newspaper hacks, sports figures and other such vermin. It was, in the words of an L.A. Times story from 2000, "full of music and smoke, good drinks and good food." The manager of the joint, which closed for good earlier this year, was one Lynn Kennedy, who happens to be Dianne Feinstein's sister.
So we have one senator who should have a good sense of what the hospitality and nightlife businesses mean to a city such as Washington.
And then we have Robert Bennett, who is a Mormon from Utah, but earlier in life was the corporate PR man for Howard Hughes, who then owned gambling casinos in Las Vegas, giving Bennett a front-row seat onto the bacchanalia in the desert.
Whatever their own experiences with late-night barhopping, the senators have about as much business poking into the alcoholic beverage controls of the District of Columbia as they do into how the city sets its taxi fares. Oh, well, bad analogy.
Will Fenty and council Chairman Vincent Gray cave to the senators' pressure? The council meets Tuesday, and emergency legislation can be erased just as quickly as it is approved. Commence backpedaling. But chin up, D.C politicians--if there's any sort of incident during the Inauguration week, don't worry, you and your police force will get all the blame.
By Marc Fisher |
December 10, 2008; 8:51 AM ET
Previous: While D.C. & Teachers Spar, MoCo Wins Quite A Deal | Next: Dueling Preferences: Playing The D.C. Lottery Lottery
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: nuke41 | December 10, 2008 9:11 AM
Posted by: RedBirdie | December 10, 2008 9:16 AM
Posted by: threeoaksgone | December 10, 2008 9:25 AM
Posted by: around | December 10, 2008 9:28 AM
Posted by: kevin1231 | December 10, 2008 9:31 AM
Posted by: edbyronadams | December 10, 2008 9:39 AM
Posted by: tslats | December 10, 2008 10:08 AM
Posted by: kjohnson3 | December 10, 2008 10:23 AM
Posted by: prokaryote | December 10, 2008 10:31 AM
Posted by: paft | December 10, 2008 10:33 AM
Posted by: Tess6 | December 10, 2008 10:41 AM
Posted by: dcnative70 | December 10, 2008 10:56 AM
Posted by: Cossackathon | December 10, 2008 11:04 AM
Posted by: akchild | December 10, 2008 11:11 AM
Posted by: akchild | December 10, 2008 11:29 AM
Posted by: RedBirdie | December 10, 2008 11:40 AM
Posted by: DCDCSW | December 10, 2008 11:43 AM
Posted by: capecodner424 | December 10, 2008 11:55 AM
Posted by: fridaolay | December 10, 2008 12:38 PM
Posted by: ajsmithva | December 10, 2008 1:38 PM
Posted by: AngryLiberal | December 10, 2008 2:55 PM
Posted by: hisroc | December 10, 2008 3:05 PM
Posted by: renegade2 | December 10, 2008 3:34 PM
Posted by: hoos3014 | December 10, 2008 4:04 PM
Posted by: egoldin | December 10, 2008 4:10 PM
Posted by: hisroc | December 10, 2008 4:16 PM
Posted by: EAR0614 | December 10, 2008 4:54 PM
Posted by: biffgriff | December 11, 2008 7:47 AM
Posted by: mdean3 | December 11, 2008 11:26 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.