Mayor delays tavern decision Next month, Hopkins will reveal his plan for bar closing hours

November 29, 1995|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,SUN STAFF

No one is sure where Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins stands on one of the most divisive issues facing Annapolis -- the future of late-night bars in the city's historic district.

And the mayor isn't telling.

"Everybody's going to get confused if I talk about it, so please don't let me confuse you until I make up my final conclusion and announce what I believe," he said yesterday.

Mr. Hopkins voted two weeks ago against a bill he co-sponsored that would allow more downtown establishments to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. and abstained form voting on another.

He had vowed to clarify his position this week. But he refused to commit to either side of the debate at a city council meeting Monday, sending home dozens of residents who came to City Hall to hear what he had to say.

Yesterday, he said he would announce his compromise plan for late-night bar closings in December, but would not say what that plan would look like.

Aldermen have said he has discussed the possibility of rolling back all closing times to midnight or 1 a.m.

The mayor has said he would like to see Annapolis become the town it once was, with midnight bar closings universally imposed.

But he says he does not know if such a move is possible in modern Annapolis.

"I don't anticipate Annapolis is ever going to revert to midnight," he said yesterday. "I'm not out to kill the licenses. I'm sincere in wanting to pay attention to what is happening to our community."

When asked to be more specific, he talks about individual responsibility and how alcohol can turn people into public nuisances. Several times, once during a city council meeting, Mr. Hopkins told of seeing a couple having sex on the hood of a car at City Dock two summers ago.

"I couldn't believe it. They acted like animals," he said.

Meanwhile, aldermen are not trying to guess the mayor's next move on 2 a.m. closings.

Louise Hammond, who represents the historic downtown, said the mayor's vote against a bill he sponsored with three others is proof of where he stands.

But others were mystified that Mr. Hopkins voted against a bill with his name on it and urged the mayor to make clear his position on 2 a.m. closings.

"We certainly have been bombarded with a lot of name-calling and character assassination and mean-spirited stuff," said Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, sponsor of the other 2 a.m. bill.

"The mayor has the ability to rise above that," she added. "Sometimes, he doesn't always step into the opportunity, or he lets the opportunity pass him by."

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