Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Media, Liquor Licenses Dominate Council Meeting
The elder Mackson had railed against the firing last week, along with more than a dozen other supporters of his son, and Council President Bridget Rivers called it a "travesty." She called last week for a closed-door session on the spot to discuss the issue; presumably that was what happened Monday.
"It was completely negative," he said.
A member of the team later became the city public information officer and competed for his son's job, he said.
Complicating the subject further, the agenda for Monday's meeting included a resolution for $17,499 to hire a local firm for videography services. The firm includes the person taping the meeting and she had previously worked with the younger Mackson in the same capacity. Finance Director Ron West said there should have been a contract for the services drawn up at the beginning of the year and the action Monday was to "legitimize" the service.
"There should have been a resolution all along," West said.
Councilwoman Gloria Taylor questioned whether the videographer had been getting paid all along.
Rivers said the council and administration were "still in discussion in reference to the future of the media department."
In amending the budget last month, a council majority took funds out of the media salary line specifically for the title of public information officer.
Many of the resolutions had to do with liquor license renewals, which must be approved by June 30. The roster of proposed renewals last week included three club licenses, eight bar or restaurant licenses and seven liquor store licenses. The council did not receive police reports in last week's packets, but upon review of the number of incidents requiring police response, resolutions for three bars and three liquor stores were tabled Monday.
Councilman Cory Storch began the move to table by noting that a Front Street night club, Faraones, had 148 incidents. Police Captain Steven Soltys said the reports were on non-criminal incidents, such as fights and disorderly conduct, but Storch said the club owner was in effect using the city police force as security. He called for a hearing on the license renewal, but Corporation Counsel David Minchello explained that the governing body, acting as the local Alcoholic Beverage Control board, could impose conditions without a hearing.
"A number of these reports are very troubling," Storch said, and the council went on to table more resolutions for renewal, even though police had approved them.
In public comment later, La Bamba Inn attorney Robert Ferb said putting the resolution off until July would mean his client's license would expire as of June 30. Minchello said the license holder could obtain an ad interim license, but Ferb said it would cause his client an expense.
"Very sorry, Mr. Ferb," Minchello said.
According to the state ABC Handbook, the temporary ad interim license is $75 plus $5 per day. The next regular council meeting is July 14. The other tabled resolutions were for El Palacio Latino Corp., Ben Franklin Liquors, San Homa Liquors and Pickwick Liquor Store.
A resolution to renew the license for Plainfield Liquors was added as a new item and passed, leaving 13 others still not ready for renewal by the June 30 deadline.
The council voted to deny renewal for Arlington Liquors/Clinton Grocery &Deli, based on a police recommendation. Minchello said that action will trigger a hearing.
The next council meeting is an agenda-fixing session at 7:30 p.m. on July 7 in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.