By The Journal Times of Racine
“There’s nothing good that happens after 1 a.m.”
That’s what one Racine bartender had to say when he learned of a proposal to allow bars and restaurants throughout southeastern Wisconsin to stay open and serve alcohol until 4 a.m. during this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.
It would lengthen bar hours in more than a dozen counties - including Kenosha and Racine as well as Dane and Milwaukee County.
The convention is only from July 13 to 16 and the rule change itself would only be for a short period, July 13 to July 17.
But it could have wider effects if other event organizers try to get extensions for their events.
If bar close is later for the DNC, why not have a later bar close during Summerfest in Milwaukee or during Italian Fest in Downtown Racine or ChocolateFest in Burlington or Taste of Wisconsin in Kenosha?
Allowing a later bar close for one event is a slippery slope.
The legislation being discussed would require municipalities to pass legislation of their own to allow their local bars to stay open past 2 a.m., meaning there could be a scattering of different rules in the region.
That could add its own issues with drinking and driving in a state that routinely tops lists for the most OWI offenses.
Bars and restaurants are going to make a lot of extra money during the DNC, but safety shouldn’t be sacrificed, and at some point the doors need to shut.
When the bar closes, you have to add an hour to that for the bartenders and staff to clean up.
In an interview with WISN, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said: “What I’m concerned about is making sure those people who are visiting Milwaukee who are going to be up late have a chance to unwind after the happenings at Fiserv Forum.”
But bars are already open until 2 a.m., which gives convention attendees, delegates and the national media plenty of time to get a drink or two after the convention is done for the night.
For those wanting a drink after 2 a.m., there is nothing stopping people from getting a six-pack of some of the Badger State’s finest brews or a bottle of Door County wine to stash in their hotel room.
But the safety of bartenders, staff and drivers should be considered.
The Democratic National Convention is a great opportunity for Wisconsin to shine in the national spotlight.