Updated 08/21/2012 06:17 AM
Rally against new Cabaret Law
"Let our music play." That's the call of many bar owners, entertainers, DJs and even patrons of these establishments as they fight the recently discovered impact of Albany's Cabaret law. Now, it's up to the Common Council to decide how to move forward. Innae Park reports.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- It began with a rally, as protesters demanded that Albany's Cabaret Law be changed or repealed. Otherwise, they say jobs, businesses and the capital city itself will suffer.
Karaoke Show host Alvin "The A-Man" said, "It'll hurt my business if we can't produce shows after midnight."
"I think you're going to see a domino effect. This doesn't just affect the bars," said Shawn Gillie, a local DJ who organized the rally Monday evening in Townsend Park. "It's going to affect the 4 a.m. diners, where people go to breakfast. Nobody's gonna go to breakfast at 2."
The anger is over the recently imposed live entertainment cut-off times. Last week, bars that received their cabaret license discovered time restrictions on amplified music that they didn't expect. Among the changes that outraged the business owners were a 2 a.m. end time for that type of entertainment on the weekends, a midnight end time on weekdays, and making it illegal for minors (people under the age of 21) to be in establishments serving alcohol after 11 p.m.
The Bing Bamboo Room Burlesque Show host Guy Smiley said, "To just take that away is against our rights, as a person, as a human being in this town."
The opposed then took their voices and their music to Albany's City Hall, chanting, "Music anytime should never be a crime."
One council member says he's on their side in feeling deceived, since there is no specific mention of time restrictions in the law. Hon. Ronald Bailey says he will fight to have the legislation changed or even revoked. "This is a back door legislation. I'm not going to change my mind. I'm going to stand with the owners and we're going to fight this," he said.
However, a city official says while it wasn't specified, the law does allow certain authorities to recommend guidelines as they see fit. The director of Albany's Division of Buildings and Regulatory Compliance, Jeffery Jamison, explained, "What was in the legislation was a promulgation. It allowed for promulgation by the individual department heads and it provided them to put restrictions in."
Jamison also said the new licenses will be not be enforced until all are issued, as there are still some businesses that have not received theirs yet.
Business owners can appeal the license issued, But attorney Stephen DeNigris, who is representing the Waterworks Pub, says change needs to happen sooner. "If we do, it's 30 days down the road, if we can get on the agenda, and during that time my client is losing tens of thousands of dollars in potential business." Otherwise, he's planning on taking it to court. When asked how soon, DeNigris immediately replied, "Friday."
No action was taken on the Cabaret law at Monday's Common Council meeting. It will be discussed in Planning and Zoning committee, though a date for the meeting hasn't been set yet. The council president tells us that the law does have a six month review period, so we'll see if there are any changes to come.