By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,751)
In a punitive action, the City Council voted tonight to deny the application for a renewal of a liquor license by Sangillo’s Tavern at 18 Hampshire Street. The vote to deny the application was close; a 5 – 4 vote. Leading the charge against the renewal was Law and Order Councilor, Ed Suslovic, just returned from a trip to Russia. Firm in his opposition to a business located in his own District, Councilor Kevin Donoghue was unrelenting in his opposition to the application.
Councilor David Marshall made the motion to deny the renewal of the liquor license and he was also relentless and uncomprising in his position. The motion was seconded by Law and Order Man Suslovic
Apparently the egos and personal beliefs got in the way of the all male opposition to the application. Mayor Michael Brennan who is known to be opposed to drinking, opposed the application with little explanation, probably pursuing his own personal agenda. The hard-nosed denial of this license will effectively put about six people out of work, although the shutdown won’t occur for some months. So much for a Mayor who is concerned about unemployment in the city and used to be in the business of giving people a second chance on life as an LCSW. Putting about six people out of a job does not measure up to his non-drinking policy.
Councilor Hinch, an attorney and a new member of the City Council, said he did not have confidence in the management of the Tavern, although she has been manager there for five years. It has only been in the last year that the number of “calls-for-service” has escalated. No consideration was given to the manager’s first four years of management, apparently. Some say that the changing neighborhood certainly is a factor in the increased incidents there. Hinch was one of five men not willing to give them managment additional time to work out problems from this iconic bar on the East End of Portland.
The two women councilors, Cheryl Leeman and Jill Duson, wanted to renew the application saying that this was the first time that Sangillo’s liquor license had ever been questioned by the City Council in 60 years of existence and they deserved a litle more time to rectify the situation. Councilor Duson made a motion to give the management some additional time to present her management plan, a motion that was defeated. Councilor Duson pointed out that in three similar situations in the past, the Council gave the offending venues another opportunity to correct the situation – situations that were far worse than that at Sangillo’s. Councilor Nicholas Mavadones did not support the denial partly because he did not want to put people out of jobs. Councilors Duson and Leeman saw the gray areas and the possibilities of working together for a mutually satisfactory resolution of the situation. However, Portland Police Chief Michael Sushuck checked his crystal ball and decided that Sangillo’s was a ticking time bomb ready to explode and should be shut down. (Maybe he can also predict school tragedies.) Apparently, Councilors Brennan, Marshall, Donoghue, Hinch and Law & Order Man Suslovic agreed with him. (Suslovic favors eliminating positions from the Portland Fire Department and adding more positions to the Portland Police Department.)
Harry B. Center II attorney for Sangillo’s Tavern said he will appeal the matter to the State as soon as corporation counsel prepares the necessary papers. The entire appeal process will take many months and Sangillo’s will remain open until its conclusion.
Those voting to renew Sangillo’s liquor license were: Councilors Duson, Coyne, Leeman and Mavadones. Those voting in the majority not to renew the license were: Brennan, Donoghue, Marshall, Hinch and Law & Order Suslovic.
Some members of the Munjoy Hill community were surprised today at the callousness of the action taken by the City Council under the circumstances; a first offense and in these economic times.