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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Drunkards unite!: Public hearing on bar hours set for Monday

Veteran imbiber Tom Houck, a man I've never seen without a cocktail in his hand, has been e-mail blasting all of Atlanta to attend a public hearing to discuss bar hours that's scheduled for 6 p.m. this coming Monday at City Hall.

The hearing was called to give the nightclub set its own dedicated forum to discuss the merits of a recent proposal by Councilman Kwanza "Tweeter" Hall to reconsider the city-mandated 2:30 a.m. last call, which was adopted in 2003, before Hall joined Council.

If you miss this hearing, don't expect to be allowed to speak on the issue at the following week's Finance Committee meeting, says Chairman Howard Shook, who called for Monday's forum to exclusively address bar hours.

Of course, we don't need to wait until Monday to find out what Mayor Shirley Franklin thinks of Hall's proposal. She's quoted in a story in today's AJC, but here's the entire text of her commentary, which was sent to Council members:

Hall’s proposed legislation isn’t sound public policy. It is a publicity stunt, a gimmick.

It may play well in some segments of the population but it doesn’t make sense for our city as there is greater demand for public safety services to patrol street, save lives and prevent crime. Whether there is money to be made or not, the expansion of hours will stretch Atlanta's current public safety resources. This proposal comes from a Council member who didn't vote in 2008 or 2009 to restore full public safety funding.

I enjoy lively nightlife as much as anyone but public safety should be the city’s top priority. Until the APD force is at least 2000 officers and Atlanta’s crime rate ranking is below the top 100 in the country, stretching the resources for a few bucks isn’t sound policy.  As I leave office my opinion remains the same. Use APD resources wisely, build the force, invest in training and leadership.

S Franklin

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