By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,223)
By noon today, closing arguments for both sides on the appeal case of Sangillo’s Tavern against the City of Portland before the State’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations were over. Timothy R. Poulin, deputy director, will make the final decision on the appeal, although it will not come in the immediate future as some had hoped.
Tim Bryant, attorney for Sangillo’s, continued to poke drive-through holes in the testimony of Lt. Gary Hutchinson, and his “conclusions’ where no facts or evidence existed. “It’s a House of Cards,” said Bryant an attorney at the high-profile Preti Flaherty, law-firm. Known for the large number of homeless people in the area as well as the residents of the nearby Milestone Foundation, a shelter for those suffering from alcoholism, Bryant said it is not fair to place the blame squarely on the iconic,family-run Sangillo’s Tavern. There has been plenty of violence in other parts of the area that is unrelated to the Tavern. Daneille Chuta-West, city attorney, grasping to salvage some of the city’s case, said in her closing argument that there are plenty of infractions that should prevent the Tavern from having its license renewed by the State’s Bureau.
The City has always maintained that this section of Hampshire Street, is a quiet residential area. Therefore, Sangillo’s should not be in a neighborhood because it is so disruptive because it is a bar. (There has been talk in the past that Milestone isnot expected to be at this location indefinitely.) However, Chris Busby, editor, “The Bollard,” told the Liquor Board that back in 2008, S. Donald Sussman, owner of the “Portland Press Herald” and a hedge fund owner, began buying up rental buildings on Hampshire Street, near Sangillo’s. Since that time, two have been demolished after squatters were found in them and others remain empty – most likely too squalid to be occupied. Busby went on to say that: “…Sussman’s slumlord practices have done more to harm public safety than Sangillo’s.” (The deterioration of the neighborhood by Sussman is why the India Street Neighborhood Association was begun by Joe Malone. Its frustration with Sussman is common knowledge. )
Neighbor Chris Korzen, who is attributed with making most of the complaining telephone calls to the Police Department, told the Liquor Board that Sangillo’s has become a “model” bar that more should emulate.
“I believe it to be quite ludicrous to penalize this establishment for its calls for police assistance…While many of the popular bars in Portland are in the Old Port, they have the luxury of consistent police presence immediately near by. If a fight breaks out somewhere on Fore Street, the bar owners don’t need to call the police, as the police are already there. Sangillo’s location means that if they need assistance, they have to call for it….but no establishment has control over the actions of its patrons…if a person walks into a museum and slashes a painting, is the museum then at fault for letting that person inside?…that people like me, someone who has only known Sangillo’s for a short time, feel compelled to speak out on its behalf is a testament to their nature as people and the nature of Sangillo’s Tavern,” said Emma G,. Hollander at the public hearing this morning.
Following the hearing city attorney Danelle West-Chuta said: “The record accurately and appropriately reflects and supports the city council decision and we are hopeful will be upheld by the Bureau.” Prior to her assuming her role with the City, Chuta worked as for a law firm for seven years.
Attorneys for the two parties agreed to file written closing briefs with the State’s Bureau within fifteen days of the receipt of the transcript from the Bureau’s stenographer.
Should the Bureau not rule in Sangillo’s favor, there are two appeal opportunities left. The first is the Maine Superior Court and the other is the Maine Supreme Court.