Mayor pushes for bar cameras

Mayor Richard M. Daley is pushing a proposal requiring  liquor establishments that stay open late to install security cameras and develop plans to prevent noise and loitering on sidewalks.

Scott Burney, Director of Business Affairs and Licensing  for the city, said police often respond to incidents at such late-night businesses.

"This is a quality of life issue for the neighbors," Burney said.

But aldermen on the City Council's license and consumer protection committee declined to vote on the ordinance today, saying they had too many questions about it.

Most agreed that late-night liquor establishments need more regulation, but almost every detail of the new ordinance prompted objections.

Ald. Ray Suarez [D-20th Ward], who proposed similar legislation in 2005, said Daley's measure does not go far enough. In his proposal Suarez sought to broaden the time of recording to 24 hours a day, not just the 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. the proposal calls for. Suarez sought to have stores save recordings for 25 days, not the 72 hours the in the current proposal.

Burney said some businesses objected to the earlier proposal because they fear round the clock surveillance would negatively affect their profits.

Suarez said safety and security should be the most important issue, not the bottom line of businesses.

"You're telling me people won't shop at Macy's or eat at downtown restaurants because there is 24/7 monitoring?" Suarez said.

Ald. Thomas Tunney [D-44th Ward], who represents one of the largest gay and lesbian communities in the city, said the Suarez ordinance was too broad and the new proposal was a good compromise. But he said he was concerned that Daley's approach could violate citizens' privacy.

"The use of cameras is a big issue in my ward," Tunney said.

With so many questions from committee members, Chairman Gene Shulter [D-47th Ward] agreed to hold the matter over until the next committee meeting in October.