Volume 18 • Issue 48 | April 14 - 20, 2006

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 Silver’s influence in the Legislature.

But their proposals to make the State Liquor Authority more responsive to the problem are conflicting with each other
Silver’s 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 Legislature’s proposed amendment to the Alcohol Beverage Control Law to create the Problem Premises Task Force.

The governor’s 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 Governor’s veto of the Legislature’s effort to solve the problem of bad bars. “We’ll 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 governor’s “rapid enforcement unit” appears to be that the R.E.U. is the result of the governor’s 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.


Home

Downtown Express is published by
Community Media LLC.
Downtown Express | 487 Greenwich St., Suite 6A | New York, NY 10013

Phone: 212.242.6162 | Fax: 212.229.2970
Email: news@downtownexpress.com


Written permission of the publisher
must be obtainedbefore any of the contents
of this newspaper, in whole or in part,
can be reproduced or redistributed.