No vote on two potential 5:00 AM nightclub ordinances

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Little Rock's 5:00 AM nightclub owners and their patrons will have to wait at least two more weeks before any decision is made on a potentially new closing time. There was potential for city board members to vote on two different ordinances at Tuesday night's board meeting, but it never happened.{}

There was a mass exodus of 5:00 AM nightclub workers from city council chambers after Mayor Mark Stodola mentioned there wouldn't be a vote on two proposed ordinances regarding the city's Class B Private Clubs.{}

"Often times there's a motion to suspend the rules and place these on first and second and third readings all in one evening," said Mayor Stodola at the beginning of Tuesday night's meeting.{}

Stodola acknowledged that there wasn't the necessary eight votes to suspend the rules, given that City Directors Stacy Hurst and Gene Fortson were absent from Tuesday's meeting, and Director B.J. Wyrick was ineligible to vote on the matter.{}

A no-vote was disappointing news for Norman Jones, owner of Triniti & Discovery nightclubs.{}

"To tell you the truth I'm tired of it," said Jones. "I think my employees are definitely tired of it."{}

Jones commented that it has hurt employee morale at Triniti & Discovery because the future of their jobs is still up in the air if closing bars early remains on the table as an ordinance.{}

Despite a no-vote, the two ordinances still had their first readings at the meeting.{}

One ordinance, crafted by Directors Gene Fortson, Brad Cazort and Joan Adcock, would scale back club hours to 2:00 AM on weekdays, and 3:00 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. It's a supposed compromise from Director Adcock's initial ordinance that would have closed all clubs across the city at 2:00 AM.

The second ordinance was crafted by City Manager Bruce Moore's office after collaborating with nightclubs owners on a deal both could agree upon. The ordinance would require club owners to retain at least two off-duty police officers to provide security to the club in addition to already existing security inside the nightclub. If a club were to experience a criminal incident under this ordinance, the club could be declared a nuisance and potentially lead to suspension of the club's license.{}

In discussion, Director Dean Kumpuris suggested combining the two ordinances - proposing a scale back of hours of operations if things don't work out with the hiring of off-duty police officers. That comment was followed by scrutinizing sarcasm from Director Richardson.{}

"It's actually what I thought Bruce [City Manager Moore] had done with meeting and working with the club owners and with the establishments, so I applaud you for acknowledging and recognizing what Bruce had done," commented Richardson.{}

City directors seemed to be in agreement that there should only be one ordinance to vote on, however there was never a decision made to get rid of one or the other. A second hearing for both ordinances is set for September 2.