Yes, they held the first step toward approving a 2 a.m. bar closing…

Maybe I have attended too many council meetings. Or maybe I just assumed (bad idea) that readers know what I know. Either way, apparently, I did not make it very prominent news in today’s Pioneer that the Bemidji City Council did, in fact, hold the first reading of an ordinance that would allow for a 2 a.m. bar closing time.

I did a preview on the council meeting for Sunday’s Pioneer, so regular readers (I thought) would be aware that the the item was on the agenda for yesterday’s meeting. And then I included a very brief note in a a very brief story in today’s Pioneer saying the first reading was held.

Why not do more?

Well, I could have. I could have included the one paragraph that the council did hold the first reading and then a whole bunch of repeated information that already has been reported before. But, really, the whole first reading took up all of maybe 2 minutes of the council meeting. In fact, it went by so quickly that I missed it, because someone had come into the meeting a few minutes late and asked me a question about the agenda packet. I actually had to re-watch the 2-minute portion of the council meeting when I returned to the office to make sure that the first reading was, in fact, held.

Not that that is unusual. Most (not all) first readings of ordinances are held without discussion. Sometimes there are ordinances that prompt discussion or debate about definitions or terms (i.e. ordinances that govern the allowance of keeping chickens and farm animals). But, generally, most debate does not occur until the second reading, during which the council holds the public hearing on the proposed ordinance.

So come Dec. 6, I expect more debate. From both the public and the council.

And, really, that is what Councilor Kevin Waldhausen has been seeking from the beginning of this most recent 2 a.m. discussion. Whether you agree with him or not, Kevin all along has said he wants to see the ordinance process through to give the public a chance to voice its opinions.

Sure, the public could have before voiced its thoughts in letters, e-mails and phone calls during the previous work sessions that discussed the 2 a.m. bar closing time. But never before (that I am aware of) has the ordinance process on the proposed change been held. Never before was a formal public hearing held.

And that is slated for Dec. 6.

- Bethany

6 thoughts on “Yes, they held the first step toward approving a 2 a.m. bar closing…

  1. Just in case someone does not jump in here and give you an opinion, I can say that thus far opposition has come from the local bars (which, admittedly, could have a bias against the prospect against a new bar) and the police chief. I know the public works director has concerns about the street maintenance needs (i.e. plowing after big snowfalls), but without doing some research, I do not know if it would be accurate to say he is opposed, more so that he has concerns.

  2. The opposition’s reasons are laughable. I think most citizens don’t even care. Only the other bar owners seem to be taking issue with it and blowing it up to try to hang on to their own profits. Did anyone ask the grocery stores in town, or Target or K-mart if it was ok for Walmart to be open 24 hours? What do you think their response would have been? I would imagine there are many more people in Walmart at 2:00am than in this new proposed bar would have. Why isn’t there a snow plowing concern about Walmart customers on the road at 2:00am? Most bars and restaurants have benefited greatly from the BREC. They need to stop whining to help themselves and help the city sell some land on the south shore. And the some of the city council is a bit hypocritical. They own 2 liquor stores in Bemidji that will be open about the same about of hours in a day as any bar in town. I am sure there would also be a lot less work for the city police department if we didn’t have 2 municipal liquor stores right in town.

  3. Does anyone listen to the Beverage Association any more? I mean, weren’t they the ones that advocated for more drunk drivers on the road during the last sheriff’s election? I can’t imagine that they have any credibility left.

  4. The positives far outweigh the negatives with this one folks. What are the negatives anyway? I read somewhere that crime does not increase. That should be the only real issue anyone has. If crime doesn’t increase and the city can benifit from the change it should be a nobrainer. Who cares about the other bars. I’d be scared of Zorbaz too if I were them. The opponents all have hidden agendas. Sell dirt, bring in new business, and everyone wins.

  5. The city council will be found to be on the right side of history if they get this through just as they will be for building the event center. We can not hold ourselves out to be a regional retail, tourist, and cultural mecca, and then hold on to archaic practices that don’t allow the businesses we bring here as well as the local businesses here to flourish.

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