the Night Short
concept falls as flat as stale beer with Albany bar owners
It’s 4 AM on Sunday morning at Blue 82, and the loud crowd
is still going strong as the lights come on.
start late in this town,” says Mike Ripley, owner of the Pearl
Street bar. “Bands don’t start till late. DJs come on late.
People have their first drink at one or two in the morning.
We’re very busy right up until four. We literally have to
take the drinks out of everybody’s hand. Under New York state
law, at four o’clock, legally you cannot have any consumption
in the bar at all.”
In an effort to improve public safety, Albany Mayor Jerry
Jennings has asked bar and club owners to make last call two
hours earlier than state law dictates. The mayor proposed
changing closing time from 4 AM to 2 AM during separate meetings
this month with management of uptown and downtown drinking
we’re hoping to really effect is to reduce the number of victims,”
Police Chief Steven Krokoff said.
A statistical analysis of robberies, assaults, aggravated
assaults and sexual assaults between 2 AM and 5 AM showed
that a majority of crimes—about 60 percent—occurred within
500 feet of bars compared to citywide, the chief said.
time period between 11 AM and 2 AM had a much lesser incidence
of those crimes,” he said.
Bar owners worry that a 2 AM closing could drive their business
to other jurisdictions, such as Troy or Schenectady. Early
closing could also lead to rowdy after-hours house parties
in residential neighborhoods, they said. Some tavern owners
thought crime would persist no matter when the bars close.
doesn’t matter what time it is,” said Ginger Berlin, owner
of Anna O’Keefe’s. “In my opinion, I think the problem is
the college kids. They’re primarily the victims. They get
really trashed. They walk and they get mugged. The city is
more into community policing instead of policing policing.
They need to be a little stricter with the punks that roam
the streets. Having more police officers on the streets would
help, more patrols even.”
In this tough economy, it’s not just club owners who might
lose money if the doors close at 2 AM, said Francis Verret,
owner of Red Square, a live entertainment venue on Broadway.
also a lot of sales tax revenue that the government would
lose,” he said. “I personally never want to cut back on potential
business hours. As a small business owner, that’s not really
a smart idea. If a small business is making $100 per hour,
that’s $200 a night lost in the register. If he’s open five
nights a week, that’s a large sum of money at the end of the
year that might mean the difference between closing and surviving.”
Peter Agostinello, general manager of Water Works on Central
Avenue, vowed to campaign against an earlier closing time,
claiming it wouldn’t work.
don’t feel that closing the bars at 2 AM is going to curtail
crime,” he said. “London, England, used to close its bars
at 11 PM and there would be a last minute rush at 10:30. Revelers
would binge drink, order five pints and a couple shots, and
spill out onto the streets. It would be absolute mayhem. They
were forcing people into the streets. They weren’t ready to
go home that early. They were not given time to wind down.
The later they stayed open, the less crime they had.”
A controlled environment is the key, Agostinello believes.
For instance, he said, Water Works cards everyone at the door
with an age verification machine. It breathalyses and bounces
underage patrons who come in smelling of liquor. It also trains
its bartenders to detect excessive inebriation and flag drunks
without provoking them.
Bar owners and managers have met twice in recent weeks to
come up with their own strategies for making things safer,
said Chris Pratt, co-owner of the Pearl Street Pub and Dirty
Martini Lounge. The group expects to present its ideas to
Mayor Jennings within a matter of weeks.
taken what the mayor said to heart,” Pratt said. “How can
we contribute and also how can the city help us? The city
wants to have a thriving downtown nightlife. From a financial
standpoint, we’re business owners. Our culture has totally
been predicated on going out at 11:30 or 12 o’clock on a weekend.
A good percentage of our business is done between the hours
of 2 and 4. If we were going to close at 2, we’d have to start
shutting down at 1:30. If it were statewide, OK, but in one
particular area, it would be a hard thing to swallow.”
Mike Philip is general manager of Jillian’s, a large club
on North Pearl Street.
working with the mayor on finding a solution to make downtown
safer and to try and get families and respectable clientele
back here,” he said. “Apparently, there’s been more crime
than he’s comfortable with. We want downtown to be a place
where people can come out to dinner, go see a show and come
have a drink afterwards.”
Senate Democrats didn’t just lose their majority; they lost
control of their finances
New York State Senate Democrats have come under scrutiny lately
for the way they manage their own finances. The outgoing majority
and the party’s senatorial campaign committee both seem to
have been spending far beyond their means for more than a
Exact totals are still unknown, but monthly expenditures appear
to have been $1.1 million more than the $2.3 million that
was allocated for Democratic Senate staffing. This is primarily
due to the Senate coup of two years ago that left the Democrats
briefly without power when three Democratic senators voted
with the Republican bloc. The insurgent senators eventually
returned to ranks, but not before upsetting the balance of
leadership within the party. One result of this struggle was
increased spending for new party leaders and additional monies
provided to senate Republicans.
Some of the money was spent on undisclosed expenses for then-Sen.
Pedro Espada (D-Bronx), who benefited significantly from the
events of 2009, and the failure to reduce the staff of Sen.
Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) after he was replaced as majority
leader. This has caused anger among some senators on both
sides of the aisle.
There is also reason to believe that this spending behavior
contributed to the recent split of four Democratic senators
from the main party. The newly formed Independent Democratic
Conference is composed of Jeffrey Klein (Bronx/Westchester),
Diane Savino (Staten Island/Brooklyn), David Valesky (Oneida)
and David Carlucci (Rockland). Many of the things the IDC
is championing are fiscally based, including the call to streamline
government and curb wasteful spending, although Klein has
been accused of being just as culpable as the rest of the
was some additional money available,” said Sen. Neil Breslin
(D-Albany), the new deputy minority leader and Democratic
chairman of the transition committee. “When the Republicans
won in November, they came to the transition committee and
told us that we had to reduce our spending to get it back
in line and, coincidentally, today is that day,” he said Wednesday,”
said Breslin. “We were spending at a rate of $41 million and
had to get down to $28 million by January 19.” He also said
that, as of Tuesday, they had brought the budget back down
to well under that figure.
Breslin attributed the savings to belt-tightening and restricted
spending, the reduction in party leadership and attendant
staffing costs, as well as the “unfortunate” widespread layoffs.
He specifically mentioned the absence of Espada as a significant
source of savings. “He was beaten,” said Breslin. “Thankfully.”
In addition to governmental budgetary woes, the Democratic
Senate Campaign Committee overshot its budget by approximately
$3 million last year. Somewhat ironically, most of that money
went to outside consulting businesses during the generally
unsuccessful campaign season. Most notably, the Parkside Group
received more than 80 percent of DSCC business following the
removal of Red Horse Strategies as the committee’s main consultant.
DSCC executive director Josh Cherwin has raised some eyebrows
over his management of committee contracts and finances—most
notably due to an audit he claimed to have done but was never
able to produce.
Mentioning that Jeff Klein had been in charge of the committee
for the last few years, Breslin acknowledged that there had
“been arguments back and forth,” but also said that a number
of close campaigns during the midterm elections had become
very expensive. “Democrats overspent. You can point fingers,
but now our job is to get rid of that debt.”
Klein was unable to be reached for comment in time for publication.
When asked how the committee would close the gap in time for
the next election cycle, Breslin (who is now a deputy chair
of the DSCC) stated flatly, “Fundraising.” He also expressed
confidence in the new Chairman of DSCC, Michael Gianaris.
“I expect him to do a wonderfully good job. He’s very capable.”
loose ends this week-