Minneapolis backs later bar closings for GOP convention

  • Updated: April 4, 2008 - 9:31 PM

Minneapolis now officially supports legislation that allows later drinking hours during the Republican National Convention -- but only if the City Council decides where and when.

The City Council's stance, adopted Friday on a 9-3 vote, rejects its own committee's advice to take no position and puts the city at odds with St. Paul, whose council rejected later hours on Wednesday.

If the state bill passes, either city can change its mind, since the 4 a.m. closing bill by DFL Rep. Phyllis Kahn requires local approval to implement.

"We can be a cold Omaha or we can stand up and be a 24-hour city," said downtown DFL Council Member Lisa Goodman.

"I'm just shocked to see so much hysteria and misinformation on something that would be good for downtown," she said.

The bill allows the city to extend its usual 2 a.m. bar closing and allows packaged liquor to be sold on Sundays during an 11-day period around the convention. The council wants the power to limit where the late hours would be allowed and on what days.

Supporters want to allow later drinking downtown and in hotel bars elsewhere in the city. They equated late drinking hours with being a great city.

Opponents noted police testimony earlier this week that cops already will be stretched to staff convention duties and patrol the city, and said later hours wouldn't be a good mix with University of Minnesota students returning to campus.

Mayor R.T. Rybak said he's concerned by "derogatory messages" by St. Paul DFL Council Member Dave Thune about "puking Republican lobbyists."

"I want to roll out the red carpet," Rybak said.

Before the final vote, the council voted 8 to 4 for Goodman's pro-Kahn position over the Intergovernmental Relations Committee's no-position stance.

Voting no were DFLer Betsy Hodges, Green Party member Cam Gordon, DFLer Diane Hofstede and DFLer Paul Ostrow.

Animal ordinances

The council also voted to boost the fine for unlicensed but sterilized dogs and cats from $25 to $100, or more than the $30 licensing fee for compliance. It's part of a group of increases in animal ordinance violations.

STEVE BRANDT

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