"Puking Republican lobbyists" to get their drink on after all?

Councilman Dave Thune

Last month, St. Paul's City Council narrowly voted down extending bar closing times until 4 a.m. during the Republican convention. Councilman Dave Thune capped the 4-3 decision by telling a reporter that the alternative would have been "a nightmare" of "puking Republican lobbyists" for his downtown constituents.

On Thursday, Governor Pawlenty signed into law a bill allowing 4 a.m. closing times for Twin Cities bars during the four-day convention.

So now what?

Thune, reached Friday, confirmed he's still opposed to the later closing time, but acknowledged that concessions in the new law would likely be enough to entice the Council to reverse itself. In particular, Thune said, limiting later closure to the four weekday nights of the convention--and not the weekends--was key.

"That makes a lot of difference to me," he said. "Weekend stuff is problematic to me."

Details obviously are still to be worked out, but Thune says that bars in residential areas or with a history of late-night noise and police calls are unlikely to get to stay open past 2 a.m.

Councilwoman Kathy Lantry, who voted for later closing times last month, says the price tag for city taxpayers and the related question of policing will be a concern. "The commitment is that neighborhood protection will not suffer," she says, "but it won't be every Monday night if bars are open until 4 a.m.."

The city has the option of charging each bar up to $2,500 for a special permit.

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