Albany commissioners to retry Prohibition? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany commissioners to retry Prohibition?

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December 9, 2002

Albany - You wont be able to buy alcohol in Albany starting January first, if city commissioners don't renew the alcohol licenses for next year.

Each year commissioners must approve a blanket renewal of alcohol license for more than 200 businesses. It's usually a quick vote but on Monday, it turned into a heated debate over one Albany bar.

Problems at Topps Bar on South Madison, in the Six-Points area, are common for the Albany Police. "We responded to 437 calls to the bar this year, including aggravated assaults and shootings," said Sgt. Robert Carter. "The latest shooting, involving suspected patrons of the bar, happened on November 27th."

These recurring incidents lead the APD to ask city commissioners to revoke the alcohol license of Topps Corner. But, owner Melba Williams' lawyer says his client is being unfairly targeted by police. "Many of these incidents happened outside of the bar," said attorney Joe Vaknin. "The people involved often were not customers. There is also a liquor store and a convenience store nearby and some of the trouble may have happened at these places."

Commissioner David Williams agreed, and said the cop Melba Williams hired for security is hurting her reputation with the APD. "The officer calls the APD when anything suspicious happens," said Williams. "Many other businesses don't have an officer to report crime and therefore more arrest take place at Topps Corner. That doesn't mean problems only happen at this one bar."

Williams and his fellow commissioners Henry Mathis and Arthur Williams voted not to renew the alcohol licenses of all Albany businesses under a blanket renewal policy. They feel Topps Corner shouldn't lose its right to sell alcohol.

Messers Williams made a point of stating publicly that neither is related to the bar's owner.

The action was met with scorn by the mayor. "It's inconceivable to think that any commissioner that's worried about crime in our community could renew the license of a business that had 437 calls to the police," said Mayor Tommy Coleman.

If commissioners can't come to an agreement, all Albany businesses that sell alcohol would lose their licenses. Commissioners will vote again on the alcohol renewal on December 17th, after hearing from the owner of Topps Corner.

Posted at 5:40PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com
edited by dave.miller@walb.com