Extended Inauguration Drinking Hours Not a Done Deal!
DCist points to a load of confusion over the District's plans to extend drinking hours in the days leading up to the inauguration.
Here's what LL knows: This is not a done deal, and it looks likely that the 5 a.m. hour will change.
This morning, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham walked into the pre-legislative-session breakfast meeting and told his colleagues about his plan.
LL noticed that Graham seemed somewhat tentative over the prospects for the bill, and he did not in fact mention the 5 a.m. cutoff in his initial remarks on the matter. He said that "negotiations are ongoing."
"The debate is about the time," he said, "whether it's reasonable."
For the record, many of Graham's colleagues issued strong support for the 5 a.m. time, including Chair Vincent C. Gray, Ward 2's Jack Evans, and at-larger David Catania.
Ward 6's Tommy Wells raised an interesting point: "What's the point of 5 a.m.? So you can start drinking at 8 again?"
Graham expressed the likelihood that he would hold off on presenting the bill, negotiate whatever needs to be negotiated, and bring it back for the council's final legislative session on Dec. 16. Evans was more gung ho: "Just pick a number—we'll support it!"
Catania got the last word in: "After eight years of Bush, we all need a drink."
Here we are at 6:30 p.m., and the drinking-hours bill has not yet come up. The bill is emergency legislation, which traditionally comes last. ("Emergency" means that it's a bill that will go into effect immediately; it's distinguished from regular legislation, which doesn't go into effect until a congressional review period is up. The trade-off is that emergency legislation expires after 90 days and needs nine votes to pass.)
LL will update here when they get to it.
UPDATE, 6:45 P.M.: Graham spokesperson David Lipscomb says the bill will come up today. The only change that will be made, he says, is that nightclubs will be exempted from the extended hours, at the request of the mayor.
UPDATE, 7:15 P.M.: OK, they've started the debate. Here's Mendo the party pooper: "There are very few people I know of who are out partying at 5 o'clock in morning...who are not out getting drunk." Duh! He cites an already overstretched police force for voting agin' it.
UPDATE, 7:25 P.M.: In initial vote, on emergency declaration, vote is 12-1, with Mendo dissenting. Bah humbug.
Now they've moved to the bill itself. Catania is Mr. Party—introduces amendment to scrap the nightclub exception! Graham says to keep it, citing discussions today with "various stakeholders...not the least of which is the mayor."
UPDATE, 7:30 P.M.: Marion Barry, who knows from a good time, supports the Catania Amendment, as fine a piece a legislation as has moved through this august body today.
UPDATE, 7:40 P.M.: Here's the Catania Amendment tally. Party people: Thomas, Alexander, Barry, Brown, Catania, Cheh, Evans, Gray; party poopers: Mendelson, Schwartz, Wells, Bowser, Graham. Woooo! Nightclubs are in!
UPDATE, 7:41 P.M.: Mendo, Carol, and Bowser end up voting no. Graham votes no "in order to honor the commitment I made to the mayor." Tally is 9-4 in favor of LATE-NIGHT DRUNKENNESS!