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Dec 7 Recap of Rio Hearing for Entertainment Permit (2011)

First, thanks to every resident and elected official who sent email/letters/FAX to the Liquor Board opposing an Entertainment Permit (*) for Rio Restaurant and Lounge, and opposing the extraordinary increase in the number of days and hours of live bands and patron dancing that Rio requested in its Entertainment Permit application. (*) Rule 75 see Liquor Board Rule Book

For the first time that i can remember the Liquor Board Chairman read the crux of most of those emails/letters into the record, noting the names of the elected officials who sent opposition letters (Councilwoman Lehman; District 21 Senator Rosapepe and Delegates Frush, Barnes, Peña-Melnyk; and District 23 Senator Peters with Delegates Hubbard and Valentine; and Laurel Mayor Moe) -- collectively summarizing the others.

There were about 20 other entertainment permit hearings the same night. But only Rio and one other were being opposed, so after some new liquor license hearings, the Board held the Rio hearing.

Ted Agres and i testified jointly, with Ted giving the opening and closing arguments.

A police Captain from the county police headquarters secondary employment office (off-duty police employment as guards at bars, etc.) testified regarding the department's reviews of each newly required security plan for bars seeking an entertainment permit. Rio already has a very rigorous security plan starting last year.

At the end of our about one hour of testimony, the Board Chairman clarified (for the first time as far as i know) that at a hearing to decide whether to grant an Entertainment Permit, the licensee can not request changes to any current Board-imposed conditions on its liquor license (like Rio has). Such changes would have to be decided at a separate hearing declared in advance for that purpose, with public testimony. So, that pretty much rendered irrelevant the previous hour of testimony. Consequently, that night at least, Rio did not get any of the four-fold increases in days/hours of live bands and patron dancing that Rio had requested in its entertainment permit application.

The Liquor Board voted unanimously to give Rio an Entertainment Permit, apparently on the premise that, despite indications of possible infractions, there had not been any serious problems at Rio that the Board felt merited stripping Rio of all its live entertainment and dancing -- because now a liquor licensee can not have any live entertainment or dancing without an entertainment permit (as well as a county dance license).

That motion was amended to add two provisions:
  • All of Rio's current liquor license conditions must remain unchanged at this time
  • Fix a typo in Rio's entertainment permit application to keep Thursday night closing at 1 am, not the 2 am typo
    • This provision was unnecessary, because all of Rio's current license conditions are to remain unchanged, anyway.