Tales from the Trail

Not to be a kill-joy, but …

December 16, 2008

USA-OBAMA/A decision by the city council to extend the hours Washington bars and restaurants can serve alcohol for the week around Inauguration Day on Jan. 20 has stumbled into a wall of opposition from church leaders, police and top U.S. lawmakers.

In a letter to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Council Chairman Vincent Gray, U.S. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin asked them to reconsider a decision to allow bars and restaurants to stay open all night and serve alcohol until 5 a.m. during the period Jan. 17-21.

Durbin, who served as co-chairman of President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign, said he shared the concerns of police and church groups worried that the extended drinking hours will invite alcohol-induced misbehavior and encourage drunk driving on clogged D.C. streets.

“We all share personal and professional interest in ensuring that President-elect Obama’s inauguration proceeds in a safe and dignified manner,” Durbin wrote.

D.C. officials are preparing for a record turnout for the inauguration, which will see Obama sworn in as the first black U.S. president.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Robert Bennett, a Utah Republican, have also raised concerns about the extended bar hours.

Feinstein is the Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

Durbin heads the Senate Financial Services and General Government appropriations subcommittee, which oversees the District of Columbia budget.

 Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Construction work on viewing stand outside the White House)

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