Vice Squad
Friday, January 16, 2004
Circumventing Liquor Regulations

The front page of today's Chicago Tribune brings us an article (registration required) on a controversy in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. A popular gay bar, Big Chicks, has been discovered to be in violation of a state law dating from 1934 that prohibits taverns from being within 100 feet of schools, hospitals, and houses of worship. Apparently, the bar has been in violation of the location restriction for the past 18 years, but it was only noticed (more or less accidentally) recently. The Big Chicks case has driven an attempt this week to amend the state law so that longstanding (but presumably unknowing) violators will not lose their liquor licenses. (Similar situations in the past have led to legal changes that avoided liquor license losses.) A change in state law alone would not automatically put Big Chicks in the clear, as the city of Chicago has the same 100-foot restriction, but the city has indicated that it would mirror any changes to the state law.

A similar controversy erupted a couple years ago over the hallowed Hyde Park (Vice Squad's home) institution of "Jimmy's." An avoidance technique worthy of Portia was found to circumvent the rigor of the law.

Mayor Daley has, by-and-large, been an advocate for fairly strict alcohol control in Chicago. While Vice Squad takes issue with some of the detailed policies, the notion that alcohol is underregulated in many parts of the US is one I subscribe to. (Not everywhere, however.)

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, an all-night gay nightclub had to choose either to remain open until dawn or to have a liquor license. It chose.....

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