EAST ST. LOUIS — The city's nightclub hours could have earlier closing times based on some new research that City Council members have done.
The vote Thursday was 3-2 in favor of changing the hours for the city's liquor-selling establishments.
The three council members who voted for the change, Delbert Marion, Emeka Jackson-Hicks and Roy Mosley Sr., said Monday that they have learned that a simple majority vote was needed to change the city's ordinance, which they had.
But at Thursday's City Council meeting, Mayor Alvin L. Parks Jr. held up a folded white sheet of paper and said the city's attorney had given him the note saying four votes were needed to change the city's ordinance because the clubs had paid licensing fees based upontheir closing times.
Marion said, "Mayor Parks attempted to pull a fast one on the City Council in last Thursday's meeting by coming up with a decision that a super majority vote was needed to change the club's hours of operation."
Four votes are needed for land transfers and on budgetary amendments, he and Council woman Emeka Jackson-Hicks said.
"Alvin Parks again puts his foot in his mouth by trying to interject into the council some slick political moves to further whatever," Marion said.
Jackson-Hicks introduced legislation that will close the liquor-selling establishments at 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends.
Parks has fought against changing the times even as members of the law enforcement community have called on him to do so to curb gun violence in and around the establishments. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, after he couldn't get Parks to agree to close the clubs early in a private conversation, went public with his call to close the clubs early to help fight the violence in East St. Louis.
Marion said the legislation changing the club hours will go into effect "as soon as the underhanded dealings are exposed."
The legislation Jackson-Hicks brought to the floor Thursday will be brought back, rescinded and passed based on the vote taken at the city council meeting, Marion said.
"We have done some research on the matter and our findings, thus far, suggest we may have had enough votes to pass the legislation," Jackson Hicks said. But, we're continuing to do some further research.
"When the mayor announced that the attorney had given him a note saying a super-majority was needed to change the club hours, our assumption was that the attorney had done the research," Jackson-Hicks said.
The attorney, Mike Wagner, did not comment at the meeting. He could not be reached for comment.
But, Parks says he based his comments on the legal opinion the attorney gave him.
"I still stick to what the attorney said -- because you're amending a pre-existing ordinance. Anytime you're amending an existing ordinance it requires four votes," Parks said.
"When the law was passed Dec. 8, 2011, that law established the fee structure as well as the hours based upon the fee structure," Parks said.