Commentaries Food & Drink

Letter to the Editor …. “Where’s the Opposition?”

As published in the April 1, 2010 Post-Gazette and posted here at the request of the author.

Dear Editor,

The following letter is in response to Phil Orlandella’s editorial in the Regional Review dated March 29, 2011 “NEWNC SUPPORTS OF 2 AM CLOSURE-WRONG.”

Being on the NEWNC is not an easy job. As a council member, our aim is to make the best decisions for the well being of the North End. In this case of The Living Room, many people were upset over the NEWNC vote for a 2AM license. At that particular meeting the Nazzaro Center was full with supporters for the Living Room 2AM closing. I was very impressed by the way John Hauck the owner of 101 (Living Room) presented himself. He came well prepared.

All that said, I ask myself “Where were the abutters that constantly complain about late closing hours? The other half of the Nazzaro Center should have been packed with North End residents from 145 Commercial Street; Mercantile Building; Atlantic Avenue and Fulton Street. Where were the residents stating their case in opposition of the 2 AM closing? This meeting was just as important if not more important as street cleaning; park and safety committees.

Our job is to listen to both sides and come up with a fair decision based on the facts presented at the meeting. One fact remains is that the Living Room presented a solid case and the opposition’s presence was not strong. One abutter came to that meeting; only ONE. I can’t speak on behalf of other council members that voted, but I have to believe if the North End residents in that area attended the meeting it may have altered my vote.

I for one do not represent the entire North End nor would I speak on behalf of the entire North End. As a council member my job is to listen to all sides and vote based on the facts presented at the meetings. This job on the council is entirely volunteer. It’s not an easy job but it’s a job that I take great pride

In closing, I hope that readers will try harder to attend meetings that directly affect your quality of life. It’s your job to make us aware of what your needs are. I disagree with Phil’s editorial, “just because you give it to one, you have to give it to all.” That isn’t true. Each decision is based on the facts presented for each case. I recommend that residents who feel they deserve the best quality of life should speak up and be heard. Your voice does count and only you can make a difference.

Marie Simboli,
NEWNC Vice President

Related posts:
Neighborhood Council, NEWNC, Votes to Support The Living Room’s 2:00am Closing Extension & DJ

15 Replies to “Letter to the Editor …. “Where’s the Opposition?”

  1. Two points in response to this letter:
    1. Marie should have sent her letter to the Regional Review and not the Post Gazette

    2. Her argument that the vote was based on "the facts" presented is misguided . I was at the meeting and Mr Hauck, his attorney and his employees and patrons voiced their opinions. The only facts presented are that a) he wants a 2 AM license and b) There are at least three other establishments (within spitting distance my editorial comment ) of the Living Room. It does not matter how many of his employees spoke or how many of his patrons "want" to stay there until 2AM. THERE IS NO PUBLIC NEED FOR ANOTHER 2 AM LICENSE ON THE WATERFRONT. Mr Hauck has used this same tired argument since I was on NEWNC (I left the council over 5 yrs ago) and NEWNC never supported him in the past. (The meeting was taped and can be found elsewhere on this website)
    Although Mr Hauck claims not to be a club because he doesn't charge a cover, doesn't have bottle service and some other excuse I forgot, the FACTS are…he has doormen (aka bouncers) to control the LINEs outside, he has a VIP room AND HE HAS $14 0R $15 martinis, he has a dance floor and people get up and dance wherever and oh yeah…he wants to hire a DJ. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…..
    One the most interesting points was that the doormen see people turning left or right and getting into cabs not walking up Parmenter St (which they seem to think is the only way to get into the rest of the North End ). Now if all of his patrons are locals WHY are they getting into cabs at 1:30 AM?
    Th decision by NEWNC should be what is in the best interest of the community not who brings the most friends to a meeting. Not one person checked the letters and petitions to even attempt to validate their relevance.
    This had shades of the old NEWRA days when developers and business owners would join NEWRA, pack a meeting and never be seen again unless they wanted something else.
    Contrary to Marie's contention that other establishments won't rush to apply for a 2AM license, I suggest she read the Legal Notices on the PG to see that Artu has a hearing before the Licensing Board in late April about an application to extend Artu's liquor license to 2 AM.
    Marie and the other council members who voted to support this request were wrong.

  2. Agree 100% w/ Joyce. It's not only about what is presented at the meetings. Some common sense has to apply. OF COURSE more establishments are going to now ask for 2AM closings. If I owned an establishment, I would use this as a springboard for a 2AM license also.

    Does the board have no foresight whatsoever?

  3. There is no public need for a 2am closure, the living room won't do any business during that hour, it will become obvious to the owner that he is losing money by staying open the extra hour, and he will close at 1. It's a very simple process known as supply and demand. What isn't needed is for a select group to decide what the neighborhood/city "needs".

  4. @North End guy…..
    The Living Room's owner claims his regular patrons need the place because they don't want to associate with the riff raff from Quincy Market, Tias, the Sail Loft and the Four Winds. They NEED a place to quaff their $15 martinis. If he gets a 2AM license, he will stay open until 2.
    As to your comment about a "select group deciding what the neighborhood needs…..1. Every neighborhood in the City of Boston has an equivalent to the North End Waterfront Neighborhood Council which was established by Mayor White. NEWNC members are ELECTED to a two year term by the residents of the NE & W. The elections are in May. Participate instead of complaining. NEWRA is a paid membership organization open to any resident of the NE/W. Join it and you can vote. You can attend NEWNC meetings and express your opinion but you cannot vote unless you are an elected member of the council, Both groups are ADVISORY only. Ultimately it is up to the City of Boston Licensing Commission and the State Alcohol control board to decide who gets a license and what restrictions (closing hours, need to serve food with alcohol, beer & wine, beer, wine, & cordials, or all alcohol) are placed on the license. If it is a zoning issue, then the ZBA and/or BRA has the final say depending on the size of the project.

    The "select group of people" you refer to are volunteers who give up their free time, take a lot of crap from people in the neighborhood, and try to do what they believe is right. What have you done besides complain?

  5. For all of you that have a comment you have a right to say what you feel. Most importantly YOU don't know as of yet if the Living Room will get the 2 AM. If you feel that strongly against the 2AM closure start a petition with all the abutters names and when John Hauck goes up for his hearing at City Hall take your petition and do what you need to do. If all these comments attended the NEWNC meeting maybe our decision would have been different. Everyone speaks up now once the horse is out of the barn. As I said in my article written in the Post Gazette "Where's the Opposition" that is my comment. Marie Simboli (NEWNC Vice President)

  6. The council apparently expects neighbors to continually turn out in droves every time a drinking establishment and their hirelings/flunkies and their late night boozers demand later and later closing hours. Like it's a numbers game.

    How about the council just doing what's right for the neighborhood? Isn't that what they're supposed to do? That means NO expanded closing hours: the neighborhood is saturated already. Anyone who lives here can see that. Just say NO.

  7. @Marie S. I was there. I was the only person who even asked John Hauck a tough question. I stand by my comments. Support from the Living Room's employees and customers should not have been considered fact by you or anyone else. Yes, NEWNC has to listen to what the applicant presents and any comments in support or opposition to the proposal. Then members of the council should vote based on the information presented and the best interest of the neighborhood.
    Hypothetically ,If I came before you and asked to put an addition on my building that would bring the building height up to 82ft and I had letters of support from my tenants would you support me even though the zoning regs say the height limit is 55 ft? My tenants really want it so they can move to higher floors with a view and roof deck rights.My investors really want it because I will get higher rents and can pay a better return on their investment. I don't think so. at least you shouldn't.
    NEWNC was wrong on this one. I was surprised by your vote of support. It sounds like you are having second thoughts about your vote but there are no do overs. Sorry but NEWNC cannot retract its support. Hopefully the licensing board will reject the application, Capt O'Rourke will send a representative of Area A police to oppose it, Sal LaMattina will actually oppose it, people will send letters or show up at the hearing.( I still have not seen or heard anything about a hearing date for the 2am license extension) and it will be a non-issue.

  8. @Heather. The council does expect people to show up at meetings just the way NEWRA does. While NEWRA has a hard policy about no expansion, NEWNC does not have a "we will never cross this line" policy. Every single NEWNC council person ( and in all fairness, NEWRAs executive board members) has a full time job, some which require long hours and some even have small children. Yet they make the time to VOLUNTEER for these organizations. Yes, I am not happy with the vote that NEWNC made to support the Living Room's 2 AM license and I have made it clear in private and on this forum, what I think and why. I don't make it to all of the NEWNC meetings but I do get there for some of them and I do speak with Stephen P if I cannot attend.
    Being on the council is not easy.(been there, done that) You have to vote in public (unlike NEWRAs secret ballot), people give you a ration of grief no matter what you do. Sometimes you have to vote against people you really like and in support of people you don't like so much and sometimes you make an enemy or two in the process.

  9. Joyce, The letter was sent to the Post-Gazette, Regional Review and North End
    Marie S

  10. I think it's past time that this council also adopts a hard policy about no expansion of drinking hours in the neighborhood. And yes, we all know they are volunteers. So what? Boston is a volunteer-oriented city: many volunteers work full time, have kids, have to stand by their public decisions, etc. No news here except that these particular volunteers made a very bad decision for the neighborhood and now have to live with it. Hopefully, there will be some changes at election time.

  11. Marie’s letter would have a lot more credibility if she hadn’t been at the NEWRA meeting the week before and heard the opposition expressed by many people, including those who reside near the Living Room. So, she was well aware of what the quality of life concerns were. Did Mr. Hauck’s show of force induce a memory loss on her part?

  12. Mary McGee In spite of how you feel about the NEWNC. The resident association has 300 members that vote that evening at the meeting whatever maybe on the agenda. If they felt that strongly about 10l (Living Room) some of the members (residents) could of came to the NEWNC meeting and opposed John Hauck request for a 2 AM. "Where's the Opposition" if we only had one abutter. I am not going to get into a contest with anyone nor YOU. The vote was taken at the NEWNC and so be it.

  13. I agree 100% with Marie S. If the members of NEWRA that opposed "The Living Room" wanted to voice there opinion they should have done so by attending the meeting and speaking at The NEWNC meeting. As someone who attended both meetings many of opposition voters at NEWRA were residents from Prince/Lewis and areas further away from the general vacinity of buildings and streets that abutt the Living Room. They voiced their concern and are completely entitled to their opinion, however I personally believe that the real issue at hand is how this effects the immediate vacinity of the neihborhood. These are the people who will be dealing with the extension directly. Not Prince/Salem or other streets further out. The people that were in attendance, many of whom that lived closer to the general vacinity ( i.e. commericial street/richmond/including Mercantile Wharf Residents) spoke and made clear that they believed the living room was a friend to the community and enjoyed the livelyhood it brought to the neighborhood. I personally attended and voiced my opionion in favor. I live in the mercantile wharf building directly above the restaurant. I myself have not been affected by any of the noise and other Mercantile wharf residents present voiced there support as well. The immediate impact residents spoke at the NEWNC meeting and this what NEWNC had voted on. I am glad that NEWNC is not afraid to act independently of NEWRA and can look at issues on a case by case basis on what has been presented. I still support NEWRA as well and hope to continue to attend and speak on issues at meetings.

  14. The extended hours and D.J. on certain nights is not a good idea because the Living Room is located amidst an all-residential are and this would create much noise.

  15. @Heather – we understand you don't want to the extended hours for the license, but what makes you think that's the "right" thing to do. Since when did we determine that you were the proper person to be the judge and jury on what is the right thing to do. If the majority of the NE residents would like the extended hours – that's the right thing to do. You might want to consider getting off your high horse and stop making such ridiculous statements with zero supporting evidence or facts. Just cause you say it – don't make it so ma'am.

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