Battle over liquor laws brewing between Harvey mayor, aldermen

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HARVEY, Ill. — Another fight is brewing in Harvey's City Hall, between the mayor and aldermen divided over how late people should be allowed to party.

The city’s new mayor, Christopher Clark, has said he was elected to clean up Harvey. A new ordinance backed by the mayor requires all alcohol-related businesses to close at midnight or be fined.

“Our new mayor, he’s a good person. He has very good intentions of trying to change the stigmatism that has been going around and embroiling Harvey,” said Harvey resident Ruby Donahue.

The new ordinances went into effect last fall. Because of lost revenue many clubs have been forced shut down entirely. Businesses in Harvey are not happy, nor are four out of its six aldermen.

“Basically it’s a death sentence for night clubs,” said Asa “Duce” Powell, Club O.

Rasheeda Smith provides concierge services to the clubs in town, like bathroom attendants. She say the consequences of the new ordinances are hurting more people than the mayor might realize.

“You’re having these people turn to a life of crime when they don’t have to, when they have a legal, viable income beforehand,” Smith said.

The city’s mayor has said he’s re-evaluating liquor licenses as part of an effort to clean up the town’s image. But bar owners who now have to jump through hoops to renew their licenses say it’s more than that, and have started suing.

“It’s just another hearing to deny our clients due process and their ability to earn an income, not only for themselves, but for their employees,” attorney Dan Garbish said.

Monday afternoon, aldermen had a notice up about a special meeting meant to discuss the issue and vote to reinstate normal business hours. When they showed up the mayor had different plans. The meeting had been cancelled.

“It’s kind of like he’s trying to act like we don’t exist, but we do,” said Ald. Tyrone Rogers (6th Ward).

The mayor says special meetings cannot be held in the middle of the afternoon, because that’s not a convenient time for residents. Aldermen say they can't get the liquor ordinances on the city council agenda because the mayor keeps blocking them.

“I shouldn’t be an alderman if we have a dictator in office telling me what I can and cant do,” said Ald. Marshun Tolbert (2nd Ward ).

Whether these clubs can stay open late will likely be up to a judge later this week, when a court decides whether to enter a restraining order against the City of Harvey.

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