Reichert suggests earlier last call for Macon bars

Mayor Robert Reichert wants to move up last call in Macon, cutting alcohol sales off at 1:30 a.m. instead of 2 a.m.

An ordinance to do that likely will be discussed later this month by the City Council, which is scheduled to refer the mayor’s proposal to the council’s Public Safety Committee tonight. But several council members asked pointed questions at the mere mention of the change Monday, signaling that the mayor may have a tough time steering his idea through council.

“What is bringing this about?” Councilman Lonnie Miley asked Monday. “Have we actually had a problem with this? Why do something just to do it?”

The mayor hopes that shutting off sales a little earlier will cut down on fights, spokesman Andrew Blascovich said. Currently bars have to stop selling drinks by 2 a.m., and the city code says no one can drink in a bar after 2 a.m.

But the code does allow people to simply hold an open beer or other drink inside a bar until 3 a.m. Reichert’s proposal would address this apparent discrepancy in the code, moving that cut-off time to 2 a.m., and effectively forcing bars to clear people out and clean up any open containers by 2 a.m.

Blascovich said that, in some places, bartenders will sell one person several drinks right at 2 a.m., “clearly trying to get around the law” and the proposed ordinance “is an attempt to curb that.”

He said it was developed with police input.

Several council members indicated that if the mayor or the police department wants to argue that changing the city code will cut down on after-hours troublemaking, they’d better come armed with statistics. “I don’t see why we would just suddenly pull this out of the air and do it,” Councilman Rick Hutto said.

“This is crazy,” Councilman James Timley said.

Tim Obelgoner, operations manager for the Hummingbird Stage & Taproom downtown, said he doesn’t see a need for the change.

“We don’t have fights in here,” he said. “We don’t put up with them. ... I can’t imagine that putting last call 30 minutes earlier is going to reduce fights.”