Council backs extending bar hours during GOP Convention

It’s 4 a.m. — do you care for a drink?

The City Council voted today to support legislation that would extend bar time to 4 a.m. during the GOP Convention — an 11-day period from Aug. 29 to Sept. 8.

However, Council members also said they’d like to take a more clear-eyed look at the issue and have final say over exactly when and where in the city people could catch a drink up to 4 a.m.

Some Council members were ready to adopt a wait-and-see attitude.

“There’s so many unknown things about this and what the consequences may be it seems premature to even address it,” said Council Member Cam Gordon (1st Ward).

Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), meanwhile, argued extending bar time would be good for business in the city.

“This argument that drunk Republicans will be wandering the streets like circus animals, bumping into each other … let’s get with it you guys,” Goodman said. “We can make a difference [extending bar time] because it’s good for Downtown.”

In all likelihood, the 4 a.m. bar time would be confined to Downtown-area hotel bars, said Council Member Ralph Remington (10th Ward).

The 4 a.m. proposal was voted down by the St. Paul City Council and was removed from the House Omnibus Bill today. If passed, the measure would allow any city within 10 miles of the Xcel Center in St. Paul to serve until 4 a.m.

The hour-and-a-half discussion of the one agenda item at today’s Council meeting ended with a 9-3 vote. Council Members Paul Ostrow (1st Ward), Cam Gordon (2nd Ward) and Betsy Hodges (13th Ward) voted against the measure. Council member Elizabeth Glidden (8th Ward) was absent.

Despite supporting later bar hours, Council members voiced many concerns, including public safety issues, encouraging more drinking among college students, and breaking from St. Paul’s decision not to extend bar close.