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Ordinance For 8 A.M. Sunday Booze Sales Stalls

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 29, 2014 10:40PM

Photo credit: Kent Henderson

An ordinance championed by Mayor Emanuel's floor leader on City Council that would move liquor sales on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 a.m. is going back to the proverbial drawing board after stiff opposition by black aldermen.

The proposal from Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th) faced several questions from opponents that the extra three hours would only compound problems with drinking, loitering and other public safety nuisances in African American neighborhoods. Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), chairwoman of the City Council License Committee, said:

“Every meeting, they’re constantly talking about these liquor stores in the neighborhood. Too many of `em. To give `em more time is not a good idea…We’re just not talking about….more alcohol here. We’re talking about a safety issue.”

Ald. Deborah Graham (29th) wasn't as concerned about the glut of liquor stores as she was "the activities around the store and the people standing."

"When you address the business owners, they tell you they’re doing everything they can to get the people to not stand in front of the store, which still doesn’t help the community,” Graham added.

O'Connor says the ordinance, which has the backing of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, would allow Chicago to be more competitive with nearby suburbs who don't have such a restriction on Sunday liquor sales. Chicago's 11 a.m. start time for Sunday liquor sales is the latest of Illinois' 11 largest cities and O'Connor believes it's easy to separate selling liquor three hours earlier with keeping Sundays as a day of worship.

A possible compromise proposed by Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) involved limiting the earlier start for Sunday liquor sales to supermarkets, based on square footage of the store, or making a separate "incidental" license for stores whose sales are dominated by food over liquor.

Chicago Executive Legal Counsel Gregory Steadman supported Tunney's suggestion. Steadman also said the 11 a.m. sale time is a remnant of Chicago's religious-rooted "blue laws."