Governor and Silver in bar brawl over S.L.A. plans
By Albert Amateau
The strident protests about noisy bars disrupting the quality of life in the East Village, Soho and West Chelsea have prompted actions in Albany by Governor Pataki and by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silvers influence in the Legislature.
But their proposals to make the State Liquor Authority more responsive to the problem are conflicting with each other
Silvers proposals in the state budget included a $700,000 appropriation for nine new S.L.A. field investigators and a $250,000 appropriation for a new Problem Premises Task Force within the S.L.A. that in New York City could respond to findings by community boards that a bar or club is a threat to public health and safety.
But Pataki last week vetoed the two appropriations on the grounds that they were unconstitutional insertions into his executive budget. The governor also vetoed the Legislatures proposed amendment to the Alcohol Beverage Control Law to create the Problem Premises Task Force.
The governors A.B.C. Law veto contended the task force would create a two-tiered enforcement system based on the identity of the complaining party, referring, apparently, to the community board role in the process.
In a telephone interview on April 11, Silver told Downtown Express that he was outraged at the Governors veto of the Legislatures effort to solve the problem of bad bars. Well override the veto, he said.
Nevertheless, in the same statement that accompanied the veto of the Problem Premises Task Force, the governor said, The overall goal of this amendment is laudable
and I am directing the chair of the S.L.A. [Daniel C. Boyle] to establish a rapid enforcement unit in the [S.L.A.] to conduct priority investigations and institute prompt disciplinary action where there is substantial evidence that a premises poses an imminent threat to public health, safety and welfare.
The difference between the vetoed task force and the governors rapid enforcement unit appears to be that the R.E.U. is the result of the governors executive order instead of an act by the Legislature.
The R.E.U. would investigate referrals by a law enforcement agency or the chief executive of the governing board of a city, town or village. Whether that would give community boards a role is an open question. But the R.E.U. would have representation from the three S.L.A. regional divisions: New York City/Long Island, the Albany-based northeast region and the Buffalo-based western region.