City Hall Reporters Notebook: Parties and parking edition
Sometimes, it’s too much fun not to take a quote out of context, at least for a minute.
“Say I got a 6-year-old kid and I want to run into Center Street Saloon and have a quick draft beer,” Alderman Gary Donahue posited during the committee meeting Tuesday on the new law keeping underage patrons out of city bars. “Can I take that kid with me?”
Under the new law, he could not — though he would be allowed to take the kid to the Moose, Elks or Legion, as “clubs” are exempted from the law. Donahue said he had no plans to bring a crew of grade-schoolers along on a pub crawl, but that he was worried about selective enforcement.
Donahue said he had seen some small children in local bars — presumably not drinking and accompanied by parents — and said he did not like the idea of that being allowed while the 18-and-over parties at The Local nightclub were shut down. He asked if the law would be enforceable in the former instances.
“It’s enforceable if someone witnesses it,” Chief James Baker told him. “I’ll also say this — there is discretion in what we do. It may not always seem fair to someone like you. ... If I’m sitting there as the police chief and I’ve got 15 complaints about this bar and no complaints about that bar, I’m not going to look at this bar the same way I look at that bar.”
Donahue said he would be more comfortable adding an exemption allowing minors to enter bars accompanied by a parent or guardian — still no drinking, naturally. This led to a few others saying it would be good to avoid forcing downtown bars to turn away parents seeking bathrooms for their children at Friday Night Live. Alderman Sean Sargeant countered he was against even a bathroom exception.
“That’s nonsensical,” Donahue replied. “We’re already hearing from the chief they’re not going to worry about it. I’m against making laws that can’t be enforced.”
Baker said there was a bigger issue than ease of enforcement.
“We have an enormous substance abuse problem that drives disorder in this city,” Baker said. “I’m not sure the message you want to send is that the city is going to sanction a 25-year-old alcoholic flopping down his 4-year-old son onto a barstool and drinking for 10 hours.”
A motion to amend the proposal with a parental supervision exception failed 2-2. Alderman Charles Romeo joined with Donahue, while Alderwoman Sharon Davis joined Sargeant.
Do you know how many bars there are in Rutland?
Defining a bar as “an establishment with a cabaret license,” which is the sort of license you have to get if you serve more alcohol than food, there were, as of Tuesday, 13. They are 3D’s, Center Street Alley, Center Street Saloon, CJ’s Suds South, Magoo’s, Muckenschnable’s, The Paramount Theatre (should we really count them?), Rutland Bowlerama/Ten Pin Lounge, Saints of Pub 42, The Local, Two Sheas and Uncle Sam’s Pub.
One might be tempted to count certain restaurants with active bar areas, which would up the count by a few. The aforementioned “clubs” would also stretch the list, but they also have a different sort of liquor license.
We’ve all heard that Rutland was once written up as having the most bars per capita in the country, but I’ve never actually seen this write-up. Does anybody have it lying around or is it one of those local myths?
The rest of what’s coming off the cutting room floor this week is from Thursday’s meeting on enforcing the two-hour parking limit at downtown meters.
Officer Gary Tobin, who does parking enforcement for the police department, said a number of women who work in the downtown area have told him they do not feel comfortable parking in the deck.
Bonnie Hawley of Hawley’s Florist said she hears that sometimes from her own employees, and she tells them that if she sees them parking at the meters outside the shop, she’ll fire them. Fear of the deck, she said, is false perception.
“There is security there at all times roaming around,” she said. “There are lights there brighter than anything the Walmart parking lot could ever have.”
Alderman Charles Romeo quipped that the only thing that scares him about the deck is getting his car locked in if he isn’t out by 11 p.m. It’s happened to me, so I’m right there with him.
All board President David Allaire could say about talks between the city and state on the deck’s future (during which the city was hoping to bring down the price of passes and make sure Romeo’s and my cars don’t get stuck there) was that they were continuing.
The Police Commission meets at 6 p.m. Monday. The Board of Aldermen is slated to join them to discuss communication between the two bodies.
The Public Works Committee meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday to discuss an early vacation request from a DPW employee. There’s also a tax abatement committee meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on 110 Maple St.
Tuesday isn’t done with us yet — the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce is holding a mixer from 5 to 7 p.m. at the TD Bank on Merchants Row.
The General Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss a request for blanket authorization to sell city property.
Friday, the Chaffee Art Center (located in their temporary downtown digs) will hold an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. for their new exhibit, which features the work of Richard Weis, Brian Sylvester, Johanne Durocher Yordan and Katherine Langlands.