Mayor Coleman urges St. Paul City Council to reverse opposition to longer GOP bar hours

Not wanting to be at a barroom disadvantage when the Republicans come to town in September, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is urging the City Council to reconsider its opposition to extending bar hours to 4 a.m. during the Republican National Convention.

Coleman sent this April 9 letter to the council:

As you know, you recently sent me a Resolution Opposing the Extension of Hours of Operation for Licensed Liquor Establishments for the Republican National Convention.

The 2008 Republican National Convention will be the largest event Saint Paul has ever hosted and only the Olympics attract more media attention than a national political convention. The Convention presents Saint Paul an unparalleled opportunity to showcase our region to the world.

In the run-up to last Wednesday’s City Council meeting, we shared our concerns about public safety costs and potential neighborhood impacts of extending bar close until 4:00 a.m. during the convention. In addition, I stated my concern about putting Saint Paul’s restaurant and bar owners at a competitive disadvantage with other entertainment venues in the area, and I expressed hope that the Legislature could craft compromise legislation.

As you know, the Minnesota Legislature heard our concerns and went back to the drawing board. They made changes to and are likely to pass legislation which will allow licensing jurisdictions within the 7 county metropolitan area to issue special permits for service of alcohol through extended hours lasting until 4:00 a.m., beginning at 12:00 p.m. on August 31, 2008 and ending at 4:00 a.m. on September 5, 2008.

The legislation allows cities to issue permits and charge a fee up to $2,500 to operate with extended hours and may limit approval to specified geographic, zoning or license classifications.

By narrowing the time frame of the extended hours, by giving the City of Saint Paul the authority to issue special permits for up to $2,500 per permit, and by allowing the City to limit approval to specified geographic, zoning or license classifications, the compromise legislation reduces public safety costs and provides Saint Paul flexibility and control to address potential neighborhood impacts.

The City of Minneapolis officially supports this compromise legislation. If Minneapolis authorizes 4 a.m. bar close and Saint Paul stays at 2 a.m., Saint Paul’s restaurant and bar owners will be put at a competitive disadvantage.

The Republican National Convention is an opportunity of a lifetime. Saint Paul’s restaurant and bar owners deserve to be afforded the same opportunity to benefit from the 45,000 visitors, including 15,000 members of the national and international media expected to fill over 17,000 hotel rooms in Saint Paul, Minneapolis and Bloomington, and event venues all around the metro area.

For these reasons, I am returning Council File No. 384 to you without my signature. It is my hope that you will join me in supporting the compromise legislation.

Sincerely,

Christopher B. Coleman
Mayor

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