There was a mini-debate in my e-mail inbox two weeks ago about whether it was noteworthy that one of the people protesting the 2 a.m. bar closing time did not live within the city limits.
Some said, yes, it was important to note that he was not a city resident because he was addressing a city issue. Others said it should not matter because he is part of the greater Bemidji community, which would be impacted by the effects of the later bar closing times.
Well, someone contacted me late last week following the joint meeting between the council and the county board to make a similar point. City Councilor Kevin Waldhausen, during that meeting, stressed that public input can be expressed in different ways, including online on blogs such as this and Facebook groups.
As this caller said, if it is important to note whether people addressing the council are city residents, should it not also be found out whether members of the Facebook group also are city residents?
Waldhausen said there are more than 600 members of the Facebook group that supported bringing Zorbaz to Bemidji.
How many are city residents?
I have no idea.
Also, I was contacted by several readers last week who wanted me to provide – either in print or otherwise – the website for the Facebook group supporting Zorbaz.
I was unable to find it.
I was never a member of the group, but I did occasionally look at the page to read the comments. The last I read, following the council’s 4-3 vote in December, the page was going to be deactivated. I am guessing that happened, since I can no longer find the page. But if I’m wrong, someone please paste the link in the comments section here so I can refer to it. Thanks.
Thirdly, I owe new Councilor Jim Thompson an apology (and a correction).
I wrote in this story (first first of two on the joint meeting) this:
“The City Council is split, but the tally is not officially on record. The council last month voted 4-3 to change the bar closing time, but there now are three new council members, who all spoke against a later bar closing time.”
Well, that’s not accurate.
The new councilors are Mayor Dave Larson and Councilors Rita Albrecht and Jim Thompson.
Larson is against the later bar-closing time.Â He talked about how he had been considering the purpose of city and county government. â€œI believe it boils down to this: We are responsible for the safety, health and well-being of those people that we represent. … In view of that, I donâ€™t find any compelling logic or rationale to allow me to be in favor of this (later bar closing).â€
Albrecht spoke out against it, saying that if the city was supporting its Police Department, it would follow the recommendations from the police chief: “It doesn’t make sense to continue down this road.”
Thompson, however, did not state his position one way or another on the issue. Instead, he was the first (of many) who stressed the need for the city’s and county’s ordinances to have the same bar closing times. If the city stays with 2 a.m., he said, he hoped the county would go back to 2 a.m. as well. This would eliminate the potential for rushing from one bar at 1 a.m. to anotherÂ bar before a 2 a.m. last call.
I inaccurately stated his position on the matter.