If you moved Groundhog Day to June, you would have Tuesday’s Morristown council meeting.
Every year around this time, the liquor license for the Revolution bar comes up for renewal.
And the council re-imposes curfews for selling alcohol.
Attorney Robert C. Williams argues the town has no legal grounds for picking on bar owner Jimmy Cavanaugh in this way.
The unanimous council holds firm.
Williams gets the curfews nullified by the state.
It’s a dance begun in 2016, when Cavanaugh received the town’s conditional permission to expand his Iron Bar liquor license to his newly created beer hall next door on South Street.
Everyone do-si-doed once again on Tuesday. Williams ran down the litany:
No violations of any kind at Revolution or Iron Bar. A 2017 administrative court ruling in Cavanaugh’s favor. Trial testimony by Morristown police, fire and council officials who could not explain the curfews. A recent liquor license transfer to J&K Steakhouse without onerous restrictions. Ditto for approvals of an expansion by the Office Tavern Grill.
Video: Iron Bar lawyer grills Morristown council. Video by Kevin Coughlin for MorristownGreen.com, June 11, 2019:
Williams suggested someone in town hall harbors a vendetta (Cavanaugh is suing Mayor Tim Dougherty), and the lawyer goaded council members to explain their perfidy to the assembled public.
“I challenge you to tell the people here tonight why you’re doing this!” Williams thundered, terming the council’s actions “discriminatory.”
Councilwoman Alison Deeb reminded Williams that “hundreds of residents” once packed the council chambers to complain about shenanigans by drunken bar patrons.
(Responding to public concerns, the council rejected Cavanaugh’s request two years ago to expand the Iron Bar liquor license to a third storefront for a Mexican restaurant.)
At this point, town Attorney Vij Pawar and the council decided it was a good idea to retreat to a closed session. The town is appealing the 2017 administrative ruling, after all. And it’s fighting Cavanaugh’s federal lawsuit. Loose lips make lawyers rich.
Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin:
When they reopened the meeting, council members returned to their Groundhog Day script, voting 7-0 to reissue the Revolution liquor license — as long as no liquor is sold after 11 pm Sundays through Thursdays, or after 11:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Other bars stay open until 2 am.
Sticking to his script, Williams promised to return to the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to get the restrictions kiboshed.
“Once again, there is no reason for these conditions. The board continued to hide behind a wall of silence,” Williams said afterward.
IN OTHER BUSINESS…
Mayor Tim Dougherty, in a brief appearance, expressed gratitude for an outpouring of good wishes after his heart attack on Saturday.
“Thank you for all the kind words and thoughts and prayers. I appreciate it very much,” said Dougherty, 60, who joked that his participation in a line dance at the weekend’s Our Youth Their Future festival might have contributed to his condition.
On a more serious note, he urged residents to pay attention, as he did, to signs of trouble. “If you think something’s wrong with your health, go see a professional.”
The council unanimously introduced ordinances to increase stipends for the mayor and council by 1.75 percent, and to increase salaries for managers and nonunion employees by the same rate.
Dougherty’s pay for the part-time position will be $26,962. Council members will receive $10,017, and Council President Toshiba Foster will get $11,017. It’s the second year of raises for the elected officials after several years without increases.
Councilman Robert Iannaccone asked town Administrator Jillian Barrick –at the top end of the town’s pay range with a maximum salary of $178,000– if town employees’ compensation is fair and competitive.
“Absolutely,” Barrick said. The increases are scheduled for a final vote on June 25, 2019.
Noting Morristown’s apartment construction boom, Iannaccone proposed revamping the town’s moribund rent leveling board, to create a forum where tenants and landlords can resolve disputes amicably. A council subcommittee comprising himself, Foster and Deeb was formed to explore the idea.
Iannaccone also suggested the town might snag federal dollars to extend Patriot’s Path by piggybacking onto National Park Service efforts to improve access to its four sites in the Morristown National Historical Park.
Lastly, they say “to the victor go the spoils.” But sometimes, the loser gets a consolation prize.
On Tuesday, Steve Pylypchuk was a unanimous appointment to the town zoning board. He was nominated by Councilman Stefan Armington–the man who defeated him in last week’s Democratic primary.