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'One no, one abstention' may catch up with city

Opinion column

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Last call for alcohol.

-- George Thorogood

At best, Albany City Commissioner Tommie Postell's response was disingenious.

Responding to a comment by attorney, and former city commissioner, Bo Dorough before a planned alcohol license non-renewal hearing Wednesday morning, Postell said, "You're making an assumption, and you can't make statements based on assumptions. ... You don't know how Jon is going to vote."

Ummmm ... yes, Mr. Commissioner, Dorough does know how Jon -- that being Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard, the longest-serving member of the commission -- is going to vote. Unless some alien life force invades Howard's body, when it comes to an alcohol-related item, Howard is voting no.

Always has, and -- most likely -- always will.

What Dorough didn't note when he made the comment about his former colleague -- but probably should have -- is that another member of the commission, Ward II Commissioner Ivey Hines, who is a minister, has abstained from voting on any alcohol-related agenda item in his year-plus on the board.

You want an alcohol license in Albany -- even if it's a one-day license for a charity event for like, say, the Girls Inc. wine-tasting fundraiser -- you go through the doors at the Government Center two votes down.

(Before we get much further into this, let me point out that I have yet to meet anyone who has a bad thing to say about either Howard or Hines. Both are, as far as anyone in the community I've talked to is concerned, honorable men.)

But the ongoing non-renewal hearings -- at which five Albany nightspots are being targeted for possible loss of their alcohol licenses for the severity of illegal activities on or near their properties -- has brought the "one no, one abstention" comment that Mayor Dorothy Hubbard makes automatically on city alcohol votes into the spotlight. And lately more than a few citizens in the community -- drinkers and non-drinkers alike -- are asking the personal-choice-vs.-responsibility question about Howard's and Hines' votes.

To their credit, both commissioners said Wednesday after Dorough's comments that they would listen to the evidence presented at the hearings before deciding how to vote. Hines even said, "I don't want to deny anyone an opportunity to make a living without hearing their evidence."

But none of the owners of the five establishments would be advised to hang his hopes of maintaining an alcohol license on a vote of support from either Howard, who is a drug- and alcohol-abuse counselor, or Hines.

And that fact concerns city officials.

"We haven't had a case where it's become an issue, but there is that risk," City Manager James Taylor said after Wednesday's hearing was postponed. "I think that (the expected votes by Howard and Hines) is why the commission tries to make sure there is a full contingent present before they take a vote on an issue that involves alcohol, so that it will still have a chance to pass.

"Hopefully, in a situation like this, both commissioners will enter into the hearings understanding that they can vote their conscience and still vote to support the renewal of alcohol licenses if they feel that is the vote that's required. We've talked about this before -- and I understand the convictions of both commissioners -- but it's probably something we'll have to talk about again."

City Attorney Nathan Davis said neither commissioner is violating any city or state ethics law while casting his "no" or "abstain" ballots on alcohol matters, and one of the pair's colleagues, Commissioner Bob Langstaff, who is an attorney, said he thinks Howard's stand in particular would most likely stand up to a court challenge if one were forthcoming.

"I think an argument can be made -- and I think a judge would give it a lot of consideration -- that Jon is simply voting the way his constituents want him to vote," Langstaff said. "I think you could argue that if they were opposed to the way he votes, they would not keep sending him back to the commission."

The commission will decide the fate of two of the five nightclubs -- Charley B's Sports Bar and Grill and Club Xscape -- at its night business meeting Tuesday, and commissioners will determine whether Legends Lounge, Big Daddy's Lounge and the Sandtrap Club and Lounge can maintain their licenses at a special called meeting Jan. 29. However, city officials may have to prepare for the possibility that the well-intentioned votes of two respected commissioners could potentially go a long way in determining if the decisions made at the hearings are indeed final.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcheralbanyherald.com.

Comments

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

Every elected official, from dog catcher to US House and Senate member, should step up to their responsibility, the job that they are being paid to do, and REPRESENT the people that elected them. It's a simple task: represent your constituents as fully, as accurately, and as honestly as you can.

You are not there to represent YOUR opinions, religious convictions, or to do the politically correct thing. And you surely are not there to represent only the pastor of your church or your congregation.

If you can't do these things, you do not belong in elected office.

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ittybittyme 1 year, 2 months ago

These two "honorable" men are supposed to vote based on what their consitutents want not what they want...that is the problem...These two will be the ones who vote for an increase in taxes when these establishments can't serve alcohol to generate more taxes to help ease the burden of the property owners paying for everything in Dougherty County.

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wino3800 1 year, 2 months ago

Amen Sister. I've been concerned this scenario might develop.

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waltspecht 1 year, 2 months ago

But that is how Sanford has conducted his voting all these years. Of course I suspect he also votes with the highest bidder for his services. Remember him saying he was voting based on what Jesus would do?

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

Voting "Jesus"....Completely OK if you're are a Liberal.......absolutely forbidden if you are a Conservative.

According to Obama, WE ARE OUR BROTHER'S KEEPER........except Obama's brother lives in a cardboard box somewhere in Africa.

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Cartman 1 year, 2 months ago

Good catch Sister. Obama did say we are our brother's keeper. Sanford said it as well during his campaign against Mike Keown a few years ago. The biblical reference is interesting. A "keeper" is one in charge of someone else. Most biblical references are to "keepers" of prisons or "keepers" of sheep. In Genesis, Abel is called a "keeper of sheep".

It is consistent and fitting that the reference to "Brother's Keeper" is in Gen 4:9 when Cain lied to God about the whereabouts of his brother Abel, whom he had just murdered.

And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

Cain lied to God, and Obama and Sanford quote Cain's phrase. Gen 4:9 does not mandate that we control our brothers by being their keeper. Helping someone and being in charge of someone are two entirely different things. We are NOT our brother's keeper. We are their brother.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

"Cain lied to God, and Obama and Sanford quote Cain's phrase. Gen 4:9 does not mandate that we control our brothers by being their keeper. Helping someone and being in charge of someone are two entirely different things."

Cartman, you are my HERO. Thanks for your exegisis. I can only hope the sheep are smart enough to understand but my gut tells me my HOPE will CHANGE to disappointment! Obama twisted this Bible verse to mean something entirely different from the TRUTH! The answer is NO!

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Ihope4albany 1 year, 2 months ago

Poor and minority neighborhoods need more business options other than churches and liquor stores.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

Why? Don't they already have "Buy Here, Pay Here", 'Title Pawn", "Pay Day Check Cashing", and "Tax Refund" services right there in the 'hood? What else do they need????

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RedEric 1 year, 2 months ago

First, people on welfare are not poor. If you think there is market for a business then start one. If you were to do that and get robbed out of existence then maybe that would help you understand why businesses are not there. Remember the food desert maps the idiot libs put out? Inner city area w/o grocery stores and they wanted the government to run stores. What a fantasy!!!

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chinaberry25 1 year, 2 months ago

What do minority neighborhoods need that they do not already have? My neighborhood has no more than the poorer sections. What they need is a mother and a father who loves them and they sit down to dinner every night after the homework is done. They do not need to take care of siblings and work of the parents. Only they can cure this madness. If you cannot afford a baby, there are means to prevent the child. But when a child is conceived to draw a check, then do not expect them to be raised correctly. I see children Albany roaming the streets all hours of day and night. This is one thing that does not happen in my neighborhood, nor any other neighborhood in Lee Co. It is all over Dougherty Co. Just look at the News and see the hour of crimes.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 2 months ago

Bo hit the nail right on the head! You cannot represent a mass of people and only vote based on your opinion only. That is NOT the way it is suppose to work (even though this has been going on for a long time) and this will backfire in thier faces. Gotta love Karma. Go get 'em Bo!!

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FryarTuk 1 year, 2 months ago

Fletch didn't report the winning strategy of Bo Dorough and the most important response. When Bo asked who carried the burden of proof and the brilliant Nathan Davis responded the City Bo indicated he didn't mind going forward with the absent members because his side had won the argument. It would take 4 votes to deny the license and 1 of the four to re-issue. A slam dunk for Bo and the bars.

I like Jon Howard, I don't agree with him but he is a man of integrity who I always support. Do not know Hines?

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oldster 1 year, 2 months ago

Jon Howard, even though he is tough on alcohol issues, stands for something. You know the old saying; IF YOU DON'T STAND FOR SOMETHING, YOU WILL FALL FOR ANYTHING. Some of the bars have been trouble spots for a long time, there must be some legal way of taking care of this without having to go through the commissioners.

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