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Column: It's time for action
Councilman Phil Boyum explains Wednesday's alcohol license hearing
W philboyum0

There’s been a lot of talk lately about what the Statesboro City Council is going to do about the terrible tragedy that happened at Rude Rudy’s a couple of weeks ago. And we’ve heard a lot of opinions on what the city “should do” and rampant speculation as to why the council won’t do it.
Well, here’s what we’re going to do.
To start, we’re going to hold an administrative hearing on Rude Rudy’s alcohol license, as required by the city ordinances. We will hear the evidence, listen to the defense and make a determination about the fate of that license.
If it sounds cut and dry, that’s because it is. The fate of Rude Rudy’s license will be determined this Wednesday.
On a side note, I’ve repeatedly been asked, “How come we haven’t shut down Rude Rudy’s when we’ve shut down Platinum Lounge and Primetime Lounge?”
Rude Rudy’s gets their due process just like the other establishments did.
After multiple gun shots, incidents and one gun death, Platinum Lounge got its day in Superior Court and was shut down permanently only after a trial and the judge closed the place. This was over a year after the shooting death. As for Primetime, their license was revoked after it was discovered that the license holder falsified legal documents in order to obtain a license.
Rude Rudy’s and their owners will have many days in court. Wednesday will be in front of the council in an administrative hearing run by Mayor Moore. She’s on the spot to make sure things stay civil and on point.
By the way, this will be a public meeting, not be a public hearing. The public is invited to attend however, only those called to give testimony will speak and we’ll not take comments from the general public. We’ll do that during our public work sessions specifically dedicated to discussing changes to the local alcohol law.
Speaking of changing the ordinance, as council and staff work to come up with positive and effective changes to the alcohol ordinance, I looked at the quality businesses in town with alcohol licenses and analyzed their operations to see how they function without getting into trouble. After all, if we’re going to codify a rule or guideline, it should be one that makes sense and — more importantly — one that already works.
Informal research reveals that well-run establishments have an older, better trained staff. Older bartenders typically have more to lose, so they don’t tempt fate. Plus, their friends tend to be older, so no temptation to skirt the law. Since not much eating goes on after 11 PM, let’s require those late-night bartenders and employees to be over 21.
As for the bouncers, maybe an even higher age is appropriate.  How about 25? After all, if you can’t be a councilman until you’re 25 maybe you shouldn’t be a bouncer either. A bouncer needs maturity. A bouncer is there to protect the patrons, not to rough up the unruly ones.
Paired with the age requirement should be some training requirements too. Maybe a security certification, not unlike TIPS training administered through the Bulloch Drug and Alcohol Council. And we should consider having bouncers pass a background check.
Most importantly, the city needs to look at hiring a dedicated Statesboro Police Officer to handle alcohol compliance efforts for the nearly 90 alcohol licenses throughout the city. The officer would not only organize compliance checks in the evening hours but could work to educate license holders and their employees during the day.
Funding such a position is not cheap. Start-up estimates range more than $100,000 (equipment, car, uniform, gear and salary) with an annual cost of $60,000 - $70,000. Working together with Georgia Southern's administration and Student Government, perhaps they’ll consider partnering with the city to fund the position — a relatively small price to pay to promote alcohol compliance and safety for our community and our campus.
I couldn't agree more with President Keel editorial appeal for us to come together as Eagle Nation, to follow Erk’s example, and “Do Right.” Hopefully, by coming together, we make our businesses stronger, our community safer and our parents happier.
Now's the time not just for words, though, but also actions. We'll do our part Wednesday.

Phil Boyum is the Statesboro City Councilman in District 1. He can be reached at 912-495-8820 or by email at philboyum@gmail.com.

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