Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Politics

Council will close Tampa bars at midnight! Or not

The headlines from around the state were enough to make a person slosh her margarita or spill her chardonnay:

Tampa prepares to curb late-night drinking!

City to consider closing Tampa bars at midnight instead of 3 a.m.!

Okay, so I added the exclamation points. But seriously — what kind of sad-sack, roll-up-the-streets, Mayberry burg are we running around here? What about this city's thriving, throbbing Ybor City entertainment district, the bustle of Hyde Park, the cool vibe of the Heights neighborhoods?

Except, news flash: It's not exactly true.

Despite the headlines, at its meeting today, Tampa City Council is not poised to spoil your fun, kill your business, water down your drinks or make you put down that pitcher at the stroke of midnight.

What council members will consider is a well-meant if flawed plan to give the city more control of its bars, restaurants and nightclubs. And give them a better handle on policing problem establishments. And maybe even push a more peaceful coexistence between busy bars and the neighbors around them.

Okay, so technically the proposal would indeed change city code to make closing time midnight instead of 3 a.m. (Headline: Ybor City to shut down, become Factory Shops of Ybor!)

Except then business owners can get a permit to stay open until 3 a.m., and as long as the bar remains a good citizen, get that permit renewed yearly.

The city could also suspend or revoke a permit for specific violations like drugs, guns, underage drinking and serious crimes.

And for the record, this would not affect an undetermined number of establishments for which the City Council has already specified operating hours.

So why consider it? Alcohol beverage zonings are tough to revoke. This could give the city more leverage, particularly given the shootings at two nightclubs in the Ybor area in 2011.

The proposal also takes into consideration a less dramatic problem. Businesses with a late-night permit "must at all times be in compliance with the city parking requirements," one of the most oft-heard complaints from those who live around busy bars.

Still, council members this week have gotten an earful from business owners worried that what's under consideration means three hours less to make a living.

"With big change," says council member and supporter Yvonne Yolie Capin, "it takes a lot of explaining." And hey, don't accuse her of trying to spoil anyone's fun — she's interested in making Sunday alcohol sales earlier than 11 a.m. in the name of a proper mimosa at brunch.

So, about those flaws: Some business owners feel caught unaware. Some will understandably balk at the expense and extra layer of bureaucracy of a permit, the cost of which has not been determined. Most of all, they can rightly argue they should not suffer for bad apple bars in their midst.

The good news: There is plenty of time for officials to listen, tweak, reject outright or come up with better, more workable ideas in the name of thriving businesses and good neighbors.

But for the record and despite the headlines, this isn't about a city shutting down, just trying to deal with growing up.

Comments
Democrats jubilant, and newly confident about 2018, as Alabama delivers win on Trumpís turf

Democrats jubilant, and newly confident about 2018, as Alabama delivers win on Trumpís turf

The Democratsí seismic victory Tuesday in the unlikely political battleground of Alabama brought jubilation ó and a sudden a rush of confidence ó to a party that has been struggling to gain its footing since Donald Trump won the presidency 13 months ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

WASHINGTON ó Congressional Republicans on Tuesday rushed toward a deal on a massive tax package that would reduce the top tax rate for wealthy Americans to 37 percent and slash the corporate rate to a level slightly higher than what businesses and co...
Published: 12/12/17
Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

WASHINGTON ó President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed into law a sweeping defense policy bill that authorizes a $700 billion budget for the military, including additional spending on missile defense programs to counter North Koreaís growing nuclear w...
Published: 12/12/17
Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

WASHINGTON ó Donald Trump Jr., the presidentís eldest son, has asked the House Intelligence Committee to open an investigation into leaked information related to his closed interview with the committee last week."To maintain the credibility of the in...
Published: 12/12/17
Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

WASHINGTON -ó Itís the lock that launched a two-year investigation and took down a president. And now more than four decades later ó and for a starting bid of $50,000 ó it can be a really wonky conversation piece.Nate D. Sanders Auctions will auction...
Published: 12/12/17
Democrats say Trumpís tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

Democrats say Trumpís tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

WASHINGTON ó Plowing into the sexual harassment debate in a big way, President Donald Trump laced into Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday, tweeting that the New York Democrat would come to his office "begging" for campaign contributions and "do anyth...
Published: 12/12/17
Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ó National political leaders, a Hollywood actress and a retired basketball star made last-ditch efforts to woo voters in the Alabama Senate race Monday, as the candidates gave their final arguments in a pivotal special election that ...
Published: 12/12/17
PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump teamís falsehoods of 2017

PolitiFact: Looking back at the Trump teamís falsehoods of 2017

President Donald Trump made many inaccurate statements in 2017. His White House team seems to be following in his footsteps when defending him. Some of Trumpís staffers have made the argument that it is valid to use inaccurate facts to bolster larger...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17
PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

PolitiFact: Notable misstatements about Donald Trump from 2017

President Donald Trump’s words can be at odds with reality, a fact we’ve documented again and again during his first year in office. His claim that the Trump-Russia investigation is a "made-up story" earned Trump our 2017 Lie of the Year....
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

TAMPA ó With the Republican tax bill poised to eliminate the opportunity, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Monday said it had refinanced a big chunk of its debt to save money in the future.The authority borrowed $152 million from the bo...
Published: 12/11/17