When a church official twice commented and questioned Harlem's alcohol ordinance change, at neither meeting did the city council explain or attempt to explain why they changed from one standard to another at this time. This concern stems from the fact that Red Oak Manor's property and the church property adjoins, and that is perhaps what prompted the church official to accuse the city in the first meeting of favoring just one business.
The original city ordinance was more in the best interest of the community. Because it kept establishments that received a liquor license farther away from churches, schools and parks, under the old standard Red Oak Manor's license request would have been denied.
Consequently, under the recently adopted new liquor licensing standard, which is more broad and vague, Red Oak Manor qualified. So was this a coincidence, considering who is part owner of the Manor? Or was it political favoritism to keep a friend and possibly gain favorable treatment from a county commissioner?
In other words, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours, or as the church official described it in his testimony, "the good old boys system." After all, a liquor license rejection of a business in which a county commissioner is a partner could come back to haunt the city in the future if they needed special help, funding or a favor since the commissioners' vote might be the deciding one. Does anyone remember the meaning of "conflict of interest"?
Finally the city attorney's comments on the subject were typical - a half truth. Yes, the new liquor ordinance does affect "anybody in this town." True, except that was not the original objection by the church official. Why was this change in the standard done at this time, that just so happened to only affect the church's neighbor since the other business liquor applicant had no such conflict under either standard?
W. Fischer, Harlem
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