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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Wednesday, March 20

Still going after last call

Though I thought last call had already come and gone on the discussion over bar closing times, the issue came up again at City Council Tuesday night.

Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen, who last year championed a failed effort to make last call earlier, voiced a renewed appeal to address late night drunken crime at the City Council meeting Tuesday night under an agenda item titled: "Lawlessness after 2 AM."

"It is so important to acknowledge that we do have a problem," he said.

During his campaign for Public Safety Commissioner, Mathiesen referred to that problem as a "toxic atmosphere" on Caroline Street late at night.

The issue was long-debated at the City Council meeting and had a few public meetings and workshops. The State Liquor Authority said any change that happened with last call must be made at the county level.  That prompted the City Council to send the issue to the Board of Supervisors.

That didn't go so well for Mathiesen — the proposal never made it out of committee.

Still, that didn't stop his effort, or at least didn't stop him appealing to the state to continue the effort to change last call. Things had been quiet for a while, though, until Tuesday that is.

Mathiesen outlined the fight that sent two police to the hospital Friday night at just before 3 a.m. (and severely damaged the suspect's face) and, of course, the break-in at City Hall at 4:40 a.m. Saturday morning.

"People are still being over-served. Ultimately I think we really need to look at these hours," he said Tuesday. "The people who continue to deny this (problem) I do not understand."

Many of those people are bar owners, bar staff and those in the tourism industry. In fact, three heads of tourism told Mathiesen last year that he was damaging the city's reputation with his rhetoric.

Mathiesen, of course, responded to them in April saying “I think the city being dangerous late at night is counterproductive. I don’t think talking about it is. It is dangerous downtown late at night.”

He also said it is costing the city money in overtime for police and, citing Friday night's incident that sent two police officers to the hospital.

*Update* I've changed this part of the post to clarify what Mathiesen meant after he called me to clarify his point.*

Mathiesen said Tuesday that he would like a state-wide solution to last call.

"It would be better for everyone if we change last call to 2 or 3 a.m.," Mathiesen told me Wednesday, clarifying his position. "I think that would be a better solution."

Of course, given the fact that two City Council members supported the change, one recused because he is part-owner in a bar, another voted against it and one said "I’m completely disinterested in this issue... All I wanted to do was kick it to the county," I'm not sure he had the votes to change it even at the City Council level.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What time did the latest assault happen?? I believe it was a long way from Sin St.right? I think the real problem is between mathesian ears,maybe the idleing law should apply to people as well as cars.His presentation on the status of his ems department should have been done by an independent firm instead of the fire chief(No creditiabilty to that report)---kinda like the fox in the chicken coop,he's the only one who believed that presentation.

March 20, 2013 at 3:43 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The commissioner is correct. The late night drinkers are a problem and the City should have the right to control the situation with drinking hours.

I'm disgusted with reading about our police and police horse being abused. If these criminals have such disrespect for the police, then the average citizen is in serious danger.

The situation is getting worse instead of better. .

March 20, 2013 at 3:55 PM 
Blogger Lucian said...

As I've said before, I won't publish comments from people who personally attack others, even if they are public figures.

One commenter, who used a personal attack against Mathiesen which I will not publish, also said

"People come to Saratoga to have a good time at our bars and eateries. Making the closing earlier would only force a larger number of drunks onto the streets at the same time resulting in more problems. Basic logic."

Keep it classy Saratoga.

March 20, 2013 at 5:52 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heard Scala is leaving 4/1 from your tweet. APRIL FOOL. He is not leaving, just a joke on you.

March 20, 2013 at 5:53 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides crime that makes it into the newspaper, those of us who live nearby continue to be assaulted by late-night/early-morning shouting, fights, cars damaged, trash littered everywhere, and people using our yards and flower beds as public restrooms. A night hardly goes by without being woken up by drunken bar patrons. Why are bars never prosecuted for over serving???

March 20, 2013 at 6:32 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give it a rest already.

March 20, 2013 at 8:46 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The commissioner is right and deserves credit for not simply ignoring the problem. The previous commissioner did nothing and, in fact, dismissed, the problem as little more than a nuisance.

I think Chris's efforts have at least encouraged the bar owners to be more responsible. It would have been easier to do nothing and simply hope for the best.

It's only a matter of time until someone else is killed or seriously injured as a result of the alcohol abuse the Caroline Street culture encourages.

March 22, 2013 at 5:05 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comm. mathiesen is attempting to complete his campaign promises. Is there something wrong with that? How many politicians forget what hey say as soon as they get elected? I give him a lot of credit for continuing to make good on his word. He did not give up after the first try.

March 28, 2013 at 6:40 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In reference to the fire chief making a not that his job? Would you like to spend our money on more independent studies? Didn't this city study things to death on almost every issue? I am happy to have the fire chief and police chief back in charge of there departments after the fiasco administration of Rick wirth(less) and dud dudla. You should be happy to! No son in laws hired, no relatives hired and no meetings at the bars with Tom curly. Be glad for the great job Chris is doing.

March 28, 2013 at 6:45 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somebody looked at me cross eyed at 8PM

Shut the bars down at 8PM!!!!!

April 4, 2013 at 4:46 PM 

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