Attention bar owners: Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander wants to wrest oversight of the city’s liquor laws away from Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham.
Graham, whose booze-soaked ward is home to Adams Morgan and U Street, has long held sway over the city’s alcohol regime as chairman of the committee that oversees the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration. He’s currently pushing a vast rewrite of the city’s liquor laws that the D.C. Council will vote on next month.
But Alexander says Graham and ABRA have been too focused on Ward 1 concerns, rather than what’s best for the entire District.
“We need to shake things up a bit, we need to get rid of this monarchy and bring some diversity to it,” says Alexander. She adds that her committee, the Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs, has oversight of many other regulatory agencies, so it would make sense to include ABRA as well.
Graham did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but Alexander says he’s made it clear that he would be loathe to part with oversight of ABRA. “It would be over his dead body as far as he’s concerned,” she says. “In so many words, that’s what he’s told me.”
Whether to grant Alexander’s wish will be one of many decisions Council Chairman Phil Mendelson will have to make as he reconfigures committee assignments. Alexander says Mendelson told her that he’s planning a meeting for next month to discuss committee assignments before making any changes.
UPDATE: Uh-oh. Graham emails both LL and Alexander the following: “I made [no] such statement as you have quoted CM Alexander [as] saying. I would like a retraction.” No word back from him yet on whether he means to deny he ever told Alexander he doesn’t want to give up the committee, even without using the “dead body” phrase, though.
Update No. 2: Graham emails again: “I have yet to reach any decision on what committee assignments I might or might not want. I await my meeting with the chairman.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery