EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) — A decision by the mayor and leaders in East St. Louis to consider all-hours nightclubs in the crime-plagued city drew sharp criticism Thursday from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and the St. Clair County prosecutor.
Durbin and Brendan Kelly wrote a letter to Mayor Alvin Parks after the Belleville News-Democrat reported (http://bit.ly/17pc6t2) that the southwestern Illinois city's council wants to create an entertainment district for 24-hour and late clubs.
The community cut the clubs' hours last year, requiring them to close at 2 a.m. during the week and 3 a.m. on weekends. The change came after pressure from police, prosecutors and even Durbin, who wanted to limit liquor sales. Clubs had been open until 6 a.m.
Durbin and Kelly said extending hours will increase the risk of violence and undermine federal law enforcement efforts. They called the proposal, which is set for a public hearing, "shocking and disappointing."
"We urge you to withdraw this proposal and should you press forward with it, we urge the City Council to vote it down," Durbin and Kelly wrote to the mayor. "The cost of this violent crime to East St. Louis' families far exceeds any economic benefit that extended club hours might bring."
The city also wants to double the cost of liquor licenses. City council supporters argue concentrating nightclubs in a single area would make it easier to control public safety.
Parks said the city has lost nightlife dollars to nearby communities since clubs started closing earlier. He said he wants that atmosphere to return to East St. Louis.
"In the '80's, East St. Louis was known as East Boogie," Parks said.