In the Merrimack Valley: Lawrence Bar Owners Pay to Play

Stories in the Eagle-Tribune and the Boston Herald recount the meeting between Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua and owners of bars along Essex Street earlier this week. The Mayor – who last summer laid-off 41 police officers  – was looking for money to help pay overtime costs for a special police unit to patrol the area in those dangerous hours when the bars close and patrons hit the streets.

 From the Herald:

Mayor William Lantigua touched off a firestorm this week when he told bar and club owners the city may be forced to shut them down at 11 p.m. or midnight unless they cooperate with a plan to put more cops on the beat. The plan calls for the owners to chip in anywhere from $50 to $250 per weekend — depending on the size of the establishment — to pay for cops to patrol until 3 a.m

The rise in shootings has Police Chief John Romero very concerned and likening the after-hours scene to  “Mardi Gras at closing time.” Owner reactions were mixed with some unhappy with the cash request while others see the need.

Paul Morton, owner of Claddagh Pub, also said he’s willing to chip in a little more toward the cause.

“It doesn’t help anyone’s business when there’s bad publicity for the city,” he said. “And we all have to work together to promote safety and community. And that’s what we’re doing.”

Bar owners felt an 11pm or midnight closing time could be devastating for their businesses.  The Eagle-Tribune noted an added twist to the meeting when Lantigua  reportedly asked the Police Chief to step out of the meeting so he could speak more directly to the bar owners.

But the mayor offered a forceful defense of the plan yesterday after news organizations received an anonymous e-mail critical of the proposal to ask the bars and nightclubs to fund the patrols. Lantigua emphasized that no bar or club would be forced to pay for the patrols and said none would lose police protection or its liquor license for refusing to contribute to the effort.

Nevertheless, Lantigua acknowledged that the meeting with owners and managers on Tuesday became heated enough that he asked police Chief John Romero to leave the room so that he could “talk to some people in language they know.”

Read the full Eagle-Tribune article here. Read the full Boston Herald article here.

6 Responses to In the Merrimack Valley: Lawrence Bar Owners Pay to Play

  1. Bob Forrant says:

    Another sign that the end of municipal services as we know them will very, very soon disappear. We will all decide what we want to pay for – fire, police to come if we call, etc. In MYC Mayor Bloomberg is instituting new fees when a person is in a car accident. There is a sliding scale that one pays depending on the serious of the accident, how many people hurt, if there is a fire, etc. One assumes that the NYFD will arrive at the accident scene with a machine to take charge cards? Platinum cards helped first – no dough-you got to go! Reminds one of a great Jim Morrison and the Doors lyric – “This is the end, this is the end my friends, the END!”

    Happy 2011! BTW, get that insurance now to guarantee if your house is burning the fire dept will be available and will as well spray water on the flames.

  2. Bob Forrant says:

    NY Times December 11, 2010:

    A plan by the New York Fire Department to allay severe budget cuts by charging motorists up to $490 to respond to accidents and car fires has touched off blistering criticism and calls for the City Council to outlaw the policy.

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, nevertheless, is embracing the new fee proposal, which City Hall officials said would begin on July 1 and raise about $1.5 million annually.

    The mayor, speaking on a weekly radio show on Friday, said there were few other palatable options for firefighters who are facing the challenge of doing more work with fewer resources.

  3. John Forrant says:

    NYC and all cities should respond to car accidents. Yes they have ambulance service but if the accident is severe you may need the fire department to help extricate the victims. The police may be needed for traffic/crowd control.