DC Council stands by GLAA on compromise amendment
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DC Council stands by GLAA on compromise amendment

Report on DC Council Legislative Meeting of Tuesday, January 23, 2001

by Rick Rosendall
GLAA Vice President for Political Affairs
January 24, 2001

In the January 23 DC Council legislative meeting, Bill 14-449 (the ABC Bill, including the nude dancing provision) was taken up for reconsideration. I attended the meeting, which was also broadcast on the Council's Cable Channel (13 on DC Cable). Jack Evans introduced an amendment codifying a compromise that had been agreed upon at a meeting that GLAA President Bob Summersgill, Frank Kameny, and I had with Councilmembers Evans, Ambrose, Catania, and Graham on Thursday, January 18. (That meeting was held at the Council members' request.) The compromise, being a compromise, was less than GLAA wanted, but in our judgment was the best we could achieve under the present circumstances.

During the consideration of the Evans amendment, hostile amendments by Councilmembers Brazil and Orange were defeated by margins of 10-3 and 11-2, respectively. The Evans compromise amendment passed by a vote of 11 to 2. In short, we won this "clarification" amendment by a wider margin that we won on the issue on Dec. 19. Specifically, we picked up Kevin Chavous' vote. He said that Jack's amendment addressed his concerns.

Terms of the Evans compromise amendment:

The compromise amendment agreed to by GLAA on January 18 and passed on January 23 keeps the moratorium on new nude dancing licenses (so there can be no additional such licenses) and clarifies the grandfathering of existing establishments. Specifically:

Details of amendments and votes:

Brazil offered an amendment to Evans' amendment which would have deleted the sections pertaining to license transfers -- in other words, it simply would have retained the moratorium.

Roll-call on Brazil Amendment:

For: Fenty, Orange, Brazil.
Against: Catania, Chavous, Cropp, Evans, Graham, Mendelson, Patterson, Schwartz, Allen, Ambrose.

Orange offered an amendment to Evan's Amendment which would have allowed license transfers only in the event the present building is demolished -- not when the licensee loses a lease or the rent is jacked up excessively. It also would have prohibited the establishment from moving within a mile of its present location, and would have restricted the interior space to a maximum of 7,000 square feet regardless of the previous size of the establishment.

Roll-call on Orange Amendment:

For: Orange, Brazil.
Against: Chavous, Cropp, Evans, Fenty, Graham, Mendelson, Patterson, Schwartz, Allen, Ambrose, Catania.

Finally, after the amendments to Jack's amendment failed, Graham called the question.

Roll-call on Evans Amendment:

For: Cropp, Evans, Fenty, Graham, Mendelson, Patterson, Schwartz, Allen, Ambrose, Catania, Chavous.
Against: Orange, Brazil.

Summary of Council discussion

Several councilmembers spoke well on behalf of reason and fairness. In particular, Schwartz was wonderful -- today alone, one could argue, she earned another GLAA Distinguished Service Award. Evans also made by far his strongest public statement to date in favor of reasonableness and fairness on this issue, and repeatedly criticized the misinformation and distortions that have been used to stir up hysteria on this issue. Linda Cropp also spoke well, stressing that she was not willing to impose her personal choices on the rest of the population, and warned against going down that path. Several other councilmembers added good comments, including Ambrose, Mendelson, Graham, and Catania.

The provision allowing an establishment to relocate within a warehouse district (if it is already within that district) expands the options for those threatened by loss of a lease or by redevelopment. This actually represents an enhancement of the bill from the version passed in December.

Tuesday was another vindication of GLAA's careful homework, consistent advocacy, and good working relationships with councilmembers. Another thing that paid off was the interviews Frank Kameny and I gave the Post's Marc Fisher on Monday, which resulted in his excellent Metro column Tuesday. Carol Schwartz praised Fisher and read portions of his column from the dais.

Now on to the Mayor and Control Board, then the Congressional review period. Special thanks and praise to Councilmember Sharon Ambrose for her toughness and clear-headedness in shepherding and defending the ABC bill, and to her key staffer on the bill, former GLAA President Jeff Coudriet.

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