CHICAGO (CBS) — A part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chi Biz Strong initiative is kicking off a firestorm of debate.
The mayor is proposing a permanent 10 p.m. cutoff for alcohol sales at liquor stores, grocery stores, and convenience stores. Those businesses faced a 9 p.m. cutoff during the pandemic until Lightfoot moved back that curfew to 11 p.m. last fall. Previously, stores with packaged goods licenses had been allowed to sell most types of alcohol until 2 or 3 a.m.READ MORE: 2 Mass Shootings Reported At The Same Time In Chicago Hours After President Biden Announces Plan To Address City's Violence
Lightfoot’s proposed change says: “No person holding a package goods license shall sell, permit to be sold, or give away any package goods between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. on Mondays through Sundays, except that a supermarket may commence the sale of package goods at 8:00 a.m. on Sundays.”
This goes for all alcohol – liquor, beer, or wine.
As CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported, the proposal is a recipe for a mixed bag of reactions from liquor store owners.
“I want to hear more,” said Hardik Patel, owner of Lakeview Market. “For the safe side it’s good, and for the business side it’s bad.”
“There does need to be some sort of curfew, but 10 o’clock is a little egregious,” said Adam Silverstein of Garfield’s Beverage.
Chicagoans got their first taste of a liquor curfew with that 9 p.m. cutoff time during the start-time of the pandemic. Now, the city says in a release that a permanent 10 p.m. cutoff will “improve quality of life” and “support public safety.”
Tanya Triche Dawood, vice president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said cutting hours is cutting sales – hurting stores that rely on liquor for their bottom line.
“We haven’t seen any data that that has actually made a positive impact on public safety,” she said.READ MORE: Police Searching For Four Suspects After Man Carjacked In River North
We pressed the mayor on the issue at her news conference on Wednesday.
“There was a lot of anecdotal evidence across the city that some of these businesses weren’t being good actors and weren’t taking care of what needed to be done to protect the quality of life of people in the neighborhoods,” Lightfoot said.
Dawood retorted: “We’d like more than anecdotal claims, we deserve more than that, and heretofore we’ve not received anything from the city except from statements we aren’t sure are based in fact.”
The Merchants Association believes the curfew puts them at an unfair advantage.
“The winners would be restaurants and taverns and craft brewers,” Dawood said. “Rather than have a discussion with all of us, they’re just going to the next step. That’s unacceptable.”
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) used a parliamentary maneuver to shuttle that proposal, along with much of the mayor’s business relief measures, to the City Council Rules Committee when Lightfoot introduced them to the City Council on Wednesday. Lopez’s move would essentially push back potential approval of the ordinances by a month, so the Rules Committee could assign the package to the proper committee for a debate and vote.
According to published reports, Lopez said he was concerned that the mayor’s package includes lots of items people weren’t aware of before she introduced her plan to the City Council, and his maneuver would give aldermen more time to review it.
Lightfoot called Lopez’s explanation “nonsense,” saying her package was based more than 100 meetings with various business groups, community groups, and aldermen. She also noted that she was simply introducing her proposal today, not asking aldermen for a vote.MORE NEWS: Cook County Nurses Set To Strike Thursday Over Staffing Issues
“I think it’s, frankly, disingenuous for Alderman Lopez, who picks and chooses what he decides he’s going to be involved in, to say aldermen haven’t heard enough. That’s nonsense, when you’re talking about the mere introduction of a package that … are desperately needed” she said. “Alderman Lopez may not care about the urgency of helping our small businesses and moving things forward, but the rest of us do, and we will.”