FUMO PROMISES TO CONTINUE FIGHTING PROBLEM BARS
HARRISBURG November 19, 2003 -- In Montgomery County, a mother was recently sentenced to jail for providing alcohol to teenagers. The mother admitted during her trial that she had made a bad mistake.
But in Philadelphia, union boss John Dougherty is whining that he is the victim of political persecution because a bar linked to him was caught serving underage drinkers, and says the person he suspects of alerting the state police to criminal behavior is the one who did something wrong.
Make no mistake, serving alcohol to minors is criminal behavior. The person who does so is not a victim, he is a perpetrator. The inescapable fact is that minors were served alcohol at the bar housed in the building partly owned by Dougherty, the electricians union, city Democratic party, and Redevelopment Authority official. The bar was cited twice this year for this violation of state law. That fact is not in dispute and cannot be blamed on anyone who is not associated with the bar.
Now, Dougherty accuses Senator Vincent Fumo (D-Philadelphia) of an abuse of power for tipping off the state police. In a Daily News story today, Dougherty is quoted saying: "The senator knows this is a complete abuse of public office."
Actually, Senator Fumo knows that responding to constituent complaints about nuisance bars is all part of doing his job, and doing it well.
There are numerous good reasons why Pennsylvania and other states ban drinking by persons under age 21, not the least of which is highway fatalities. Underage drinking puts children and families in danger.
When someone comes to Fumo’s office and reports underage drinking, he will always follow up by providing that information to the police. If necessary, he will ask state agencies to enforce the law.
Fumo has a strong track record on this issue over the past several years. When citizens of his senatorial district complained about underage drinking in nightclubs along Delaware Avenue, Fumo asked enforcement agencies to become involved. As a result of enforcement efforts, some of the bars were shut down.
When business owners and residents in the South Street area complained to Fumo that the annual "Fat Tuesday" celebrations were out of control, Fumo again asked city and state police and LCB enforcement agencies to investigate instances of vandalism, underage drinking, unsanitary behavior and other illegal activity that may have been associated with that event.
On numerous other occasions, Fumo has responded to complaints by citizens of his district about a variety of problems in bars, including underage drinking. He will continue to do so in the future.
Dougherty’s irresponsible accusations are nothing more than an attempt to deflect attention away from the problems at his bar.
The publicity given these events today, however, at least serves one positive purpose. Everyone in Fumo’s senatorial district, whether they are politically connected or not, whether they are friend or foe, should consider themselves on notice that when the senator receives complaints about underage drinking or other illegal activity in liquor establishments, he will energetically carry those complaints to law enforcement authorities, and he will press vigorously for action on their part.
If anyone, including Daily News reporters, wish to interpret that as political, so be it. It is what his constituents expect of him. It is one of the things his constituents have thanked him for -- time and time again.