Deja vu: Morristown council reimposes curfews on Revolution bar; also proposes raises for mayor, council and managers

Revolution Attorney Robert C. Williams challenges the council to explain alcohol curfews re-imposed on his client, June 11, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin


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.

Attorney Robert C. Williams and Iron Bar/ Revolution owner Jimmy Cavanaugh at Morristown council, June 11, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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, 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 raises a question, as council colleagues Stefan Armington, Robert Iannaccone and Michael Elms listen, June 11, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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:

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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.


Mayor Tim Dougherty, in a brief appearance, expressed gratitude for an outpouring of good wishes after his heart attack on Saturday.

Mayor Tim Dougherty, recovering from a heart attack, thanks well wishers at Morristown council, June 11, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“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.

Councilman Robert Iannaccone, makes a suggestion, while colleagues Stefan Armington and Alison Deeb listen, at Morristown council, June 11, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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.

Steve Pylypchuk, right, was appointed to the zoning board. He was nominated by Councilman Stefan Armington (left), who defeated him in the 2019 Democratic primary. Photo by Kevin Coughlin, June 11, 2019.

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.

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  1. I’ve followed this along with other interests of our town for some time now. Does anyone know or has anyone inquired as to the cost of our taxes that this conquest against Cavanaugh is costing us? Why did the council offer no explanation and justify its vote? This worries me. The Mayor and council seems to not care about the expenditure on this matter along with what seems to be now a possibly discrimination lawsuit to add to the already multiple pending lawsuits? I think its time for some clarity and priority personally.

  2. Our tax dollars are being used for a personal vendetta against a business man. What has he done? What has his business done? Where is the evidence, reasoning, facts to justify this continued nonsense? Our council stood silent and offered no explanation?! I frankly am concerned! I think answers are justified at this point? This is why our towns subject to so many lawsuits?! I would much rather see our monies be utilized towards other greater good.

  3. This is blatant discrimination. No reason at all can be given for the restrictions. It’s pretty apparent that the people of Morristown enjoy Revolution and don’t want these restrictions.

  4. This is corruption and if you ask me it has to do with the mayors hatred for Mr. Cavanaugh. Let the man run his business in peace.

  5. Last night’s Town Council meeting was the opposite of transparency. The residents of Morristown have the right to know the reasons behind the council’s decision making, and further, the amount of tax dollars that has been spent on litigation to date. We need change in this administration to bring pragmatism and compromise towards resolving these ongoing legal disputes and alleviating the financial burden shouldered by our taxpayers.

  6. Can’t help but correct councilwoman deebs assertion that 100s of people objected to revolution. Exactly 14 showed up and commented 5 years ago, since then the past 2 renewals no one has objected. This mayor and council have made this a personnel agenda. They will have to defend their actions in federal court under oath.

  7. Too bad his last name wasn’t Walsh…he wouldn’t have any of these restrictions. They’re expanding to a building that isn’t even attached to Tashmoo!