City leaders closed a "loophole" last week that enabled nightclubs to stay open after hours if sponsored by a non-profit group.
Readers likely remember the two episodes that brought the city policy to the public's attention, as well as to that of the Tulsa City Council.
The first was the gang-related shooting death of 21-year-old Eric Bell late last year inside Club UV at 2nd St. and Greenwood Ave.
Durayco Demond Fox, 18, was charged with the shooting.
The club, formerly known as the Ministry of Sound, was open past the otherwise mandatory 2am closing time because city ordinances allow clubs to be open until 4am on the condition that they're "sponsored or operated by a non-profit political, educational, religious or fraternal organization."
The exception ordinance did not allow clubs to serve alcohol past 2am, however.
Steve Kitchell, who did not own the club,(see "Portrait of 'The Camel'" in the March 6-12 issue of UTW at www.urbantulsa.com for details), but who spoke on the behalf of the legal owner, his mother, told the local daily paper that the club was sponsored by multiple non-profit groups, but would not disclose which ones.
Club UV closed for business within days of the shooting, while the City Council examined the ordinance for revision.
They also raised the maximum penalty for club owners keeping their doors open past 2am without the sponsorship from a $500 fine and 90 days in jail to a $1,200 fine and six months in jail.
That didn't prevent the shooting death of 23-year-old Phillip Greer outside The Hive at 216 S. Elgin Ave. last February.
He was shot to death at around 3am by the club's owner, Jermaine Jones and his brother Larry.
They told police that he'd been made to leave the club earlier that night for fighting, but later returned in his SUV, which he drove toward a crowd outside the club, threatening to hit them.
Fearing for their safety and that of the crowd, they said, they shot him.
Both have concealed weapon licenses.
The club was open under a sponsorship agreement with Vision Outreach Ministries, but Pastor William Tisdale told the local daily paper that he'd terminated the contract a year earlier by an oral agreement.
Upon learning of the Jones' operations under his "sponsorship," he canceled it in writing, a copy of which he sent to the Mayor.
While certain club owners have exploited the ordinance merely to increase their hours of operations, Officer Phil Cozzoni, the legal advisor for the Tulsa Police Department, told UTW that it's not entirely a bad idea.
"There have been some good events that have come out of this, like a church that's worried about drinking and driving, they set up some water and snacks from 2am to 4am, and that gives some people a place to chill out and sober up," he said.
Cozzoni and city Prosecutor Bob Garner came up with the retooled city ordinance, which the City Council approved last week by a vote of 8-0.
Rather than the sometimes dubious two-party agreement between the club and a sponsor, entertainment clubs will have to obtain a permit, for an application fee of $150.
Also, after-hours operation won't be for an indefinite amount of time, but for set dates.
To apply for a permit, club owners will be required to submit proof of the sponsor's non-profit status, the names and contact information for representatives of the sponsors who will be on the premises during the event, a description of the type of event to be held, how many people are expected to attend as well as a written description of the safety and security plan.
Also, the permits will be subject to the approval of the chief of police and the city's finance director, and applications must be submitted 30 days in advance.
There was no public comment on the new ordinance when the Council approved it last week, and Cozzoni said he hasn't heard any negative feedback on it.
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