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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

UPDATED: East St. Louis Mayor OK's Late Night Liquor Sales Despite Weekend Mayhem

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 3:15 PM

Alvin Parks
  • Alvin Parks
UPDATE: The Belleville News-Democrat reports that Parks "told owners with package liquor-selling businesses that there will be no loitering or selling single cigarettes at their businesses," and that "the laws governing the businesses will be strictly enforced."

Parks fined Club 2151 and Etta's (the places where last weekend's murders occurred) $500 each and suspended their liquor licenses for 15 days.

He's also quoted as saying that the tax revenue generated by the liquor sales was the deciding factor in keeping the last call at 6 a.m.
After three late-night fights at East St. Louis nightclubs resulted in two homicides and a non-fatal shooting last weekend, East St. Louis mayor Alvin Parks instituted an indefinite ban on liquor sales after 1 a.m. in his city. Speculation was he was finally ready to crack down on a nagging problem.

Turns out it will be back to business as usual this weekend at the bars in East Boogie.

The Post-Dispatch tried to attend Parks' meeting today with all of the city's liquor license holders and they describe some curious business:

East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks said he would lift his 1 a.m. ban on liquor sales following a closed door meeting with club owners.

Parks ordered the 1 a.m. ban over the weekend after a rash of violence in the city. Now, Parks said the city will return to its original policy where clubs can't sell liquor past 6 a.m.

Convenience store owners can't sell packaged liquor past 3 a.m.
The decision came after Parks kicked reporters out of the meeting:

Mayor Alvin Parks banned reporters from a meeting this morning to discuss the city's liquor policy.

Parks said the meeting was only open to those who sell liquor in the city. He said an "open and honest" discussion could not be had with the media present.

Parks was unable to cite a specific legal statute to eject reporters.
Parks has not returned a phone call earlier this afternoon from Daily RFT seeking comment on today's liquor meeting.

The mayor's decision comes despite the fact that law enforcement officials in the Metro east have repeatedly urged the mayor to restrict bar closing times. Today, upon hearing that Parks had reversed his decision to implement an earlier last call, the pleas for change continued.

"That was kind of unexpected," said Captain Ranodore Foggs of the Illinois State Patrol. "Everything I'd heard up until today was that he'd push it back to midnight."

Foggs' detectives were called into East St. Louis three times last weekend to investigate club-related homicides but he says Parks did not seek input before deciding to keep the 6 a.m. closing time.

"No one contacted our office to ask us anything," Fogg said. "Among law enforcement, we all feel it's probably not a bad idea to close it up earlier. But I'm sure mayor has reason for making his decisions and the choices he's making. Ultimately he's to answer to citizens and leaders of that community. Until then, I'm sure we'll be back at the table again-- you keep doing the same thing you get the same results."

Stay tuned for more details, including the possible political fallout of Parks' decision (this was a hot button issue for both the mayor's constituents and his political rivals back in April) on Daily RFT.

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