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April 19, 2010

City council president tours Federal Hill bars, gets mooned

jack youngCity Council President Bernard C. "Jack"  YoungAround midnight Friday night, I was walking home from the bars in Federal Hill when two of my colleagues, Julie Scharper and Justin Fenton, popped out of a car next to me.

Fenton and Scharper were on a tour of the South Baltimore bar scene with City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young (pictured), who I also got to meet and shake hands with. That was a little awkward, but I made the best of it.

Young is proposing a bill which would jack up the fines for public urination, defecation, open containers and other drunken behaviors. Young, I'm sure, hoped the scene would give his measure some ammunition. It did ...

Fenton shot this awesome video of Federal Hill debauchery, in which one passerby (who was right by Young's car) dropped his pants and mooned the camera. Another grabbed his crouch and air humped. And there was the inevitable shot of someone slumped next to a building, snoozing. 

The police officers are out en masse, arresting folks for this and that.

The outtakes from the night's adventures are just as wild, Fenton said. He taped an officer who had his knee on a suspect's head, while the suspect hollered "I'm gonna call Fred Bealefeld! I'm gonna call Fred Bealefeld." Bealefeld is, of course, the city's police commissioner.

Here are the bullet points of Young's proposal, according to Scharper's article:

  • People drinking or holding open containers of alcohol in public could be fined as much as $500, 10 times as much as the current penalty. Those found guilty of "disorderly drinking" could be forced to pay as much as $1,000 under the proposal.

  • Lighting up indoors, which was outlawed in 2008, could cost the smoker as much as $500 and the bar owner as much as $750.
  • Adults found urinating or defecating in public places could be fined as much as $1,000 — twice as much as the current fine.

That's a whole lotta money for holding an open container. Of course, the city is strapped for cash, and wants to make more money wherever possible. Will the measure pass? I think so. How many people are going to stand up and vocally oppose a higher fine for public defecation?

On the other hand, there are a ton of respectable adults who walk their dogs with beers in hand, causing no harm to anybody. Same goes for the old folks who love to sit out on their steps and drink a cold one after work. It's the drunken 20-somethings like the ones in the video that give it a bad name.

I'd love to take a video camera down to Federal Hill every Friday night for a month and tape the shenanigans for Midnight Sun. Unfortunately, since The Sun is a family newspaper, most of it wouldn't be allowed on the site.

Maybe when it snows next winter, I'll camp out with the camera and get footage of drunk people slipping on the ice. Snicker snicker.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:46 AM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Thanks for posting. Taking your camera down there could be a brand new reality show. Like taxicab confessions or Girls Gone Wild. You could have a hit on your hands...for pay cable of course. LOL

Tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, EVERYBODY! Tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!, tax!!!

That blond chick getting hauled away is priceless. and her DUMB drunk BF arguing with the cops...bwahahahahaha

It is not illegal to drink on the steps of your home.

Was Jack Young looking to establish residency in another neighborhood?

I'm sure there could be a proviso written into the law for the harmless dog walkers and stoop sitters.
Seems like a scene full of the sorts i actively seek to avoid, makes me want to keep my money ( and my person, and car that would have gone in the garage) the HECK away.

We wouldn't see these same kinds of violations in beautiful vacation spots like Edgewood, would we Mr. President?

Meanwhile there were 3 homicides Friday...


Great idea. Might as well make some money off of the morons. Then the drunkards who come to the city every weekend to piss on our sidewalks, fight with each other, and scream and yell till 3 am can subsidize the city life that they so desperately want to enjoy.

I hate to be the lone voice of reason in favor of public urination, but sometimes nature calls, and Wyman Park is usually the answer.

Maybe the South Balto bars can just post signs encouraging people to make it to the harbor's edge before unzipping.

Is this just a one time thing or is Federal Hill going to become the scapegoat for all that is wrong in Baltimore now? It makes it easier to ignore murders, drugs and more significant crimes by blaming the clientele that frequent Fed Hill for all that is wrong. Will Mad River be in some trouble now since at least one patron in that video was leaving the bar with a cup in her hand?

I'm for increasing nusiance law enforcement, but not at the expense of running people out of town. There is a cost-benefit piece to this. If the patrons of these establishments are going to be made to feel uncomfortable by the city via the police, money will be lost in parking, taxes, etc and another source of revenue will have dried up at short-sighted proposals of politicians.

Jacking the fines won't solve a single problem and everyone knows it. $500 for lighting up? I'd sooner get into an elevator and smoke a whole pack where the fine cannot exceed $20. You've got to be kidding me. If they spent even one day actually enforcing litter laws around this city we probably wouldn't even need a budget fix. But I guess shaking down rich kids works too!

You start fining people for that stuff - they'll stop coming to federal hill, simple as that.

Or they could just enforce the bus and bike only lanes in the inner harbor Set up in front of the World Trade Center and start writing tickets 5 at a time.

You close iguana cantina and this is what you get. 500+ of Baltimore finest descending on federal hill.

Make fun of Milan, Mist, etc...all you want, heck I do sometimes myself, but they know what works and keeping trash out works. Trash can’t afford bottle service, but they can afford $9 all you can drink happy hours at TAPS.

Federal Hill should just section off a few bars and say "this is for trash who want to fight and girls who want to get felt up for a cosmo" and these other bars are for normal people.

I think these people should be spanked.

Haha that is awesome. I can't even go out in Fed Hill because the stupid knuckleheads out there don't know how to act. I love going out and drinking on the weekends but christ, it's like some of these places are time warps where everyone suddenly becomes 16 years old and drunk for the first time. When did it start being cool to *not* be able to hold your liquor?

This is the reason I won't go out in Fed Hill on a weekend. I'm not interested in being peed on, puked on, or caught in the middle of a bar fight. Yes, there's issues in every neighborhood but it is really bad there.

Being drunk in public is actually illegal. So hey, just don't get that freaking drunk and you won't have any problem. Sure, stuff happens sometimes but if your whole crowd of friends is that drunk getting a fine is a best case scenario.

I do think the smoking fine's excessive since people make mistakes- how about a first time warning? Same with open containers. We need to cut off the habitual problems, not the one-timers.

It's funny I like never go out but it was my brother's 25th so we went down to Fed Hill.

Anyhow, I'm actually in the video. I was one of the people watching the girl get arrested (I was the guy wearing the shorts and sandals by the light pole.

I am glad the city is finally looking to take action, given that they have been so willing to close down certain clubs and bars without any kind of due process....

I see both sides to this one. These are some steep, steep fines. It's obviously a cash grab to raise money for the city. Fining people a ton of money won't drive people away from Baltimore. Unless they go hog wild and start writing tickets like crazy, it's probably not going to make a huge difference on the bar scene. Evan's got a great point, too. You wanna make money? Send out a team of cops to write tickets for driving in the bus lane or littering.

Especially the backside, eh, Sam?

Maybe Mr. Young should move/live to/in the city first before he starts throwing stones at Baltimore City neighborhoods. What he doesn't realize is without the taxes from neighborhoods like Federal Hill, Fells Point, and Canton, this city would be in even more financial trouble then it is already.

My senior year @ Loyola (yes senior year, we were all of age), the Baltimore Po-lice started bringing paddy wagons to York Rd (small concentration of bars below Nthrn Pkwy where Loyola kids hang) and arresting kids who were OF AGE for drunk & disorderly and dragging them down to central booking.

It culminated with one of my most mild-mannered buddies sitting on the curb eating a slice of pizza (sober save 2-3 beers, the equivalent of a designated driver in college) and getting cuffed by a real life version of Collicio from The Wire. The cop twisted his hand and he had some serious damage. Oh guess what, his dad is an attorney and they sued the city and won.

Anyway, my point is, no matter how much you fine people and even haul them into central booking, people are still going to flock where there are bars. However, if there is a threat of screwing up your Sunday Morning Rollover and dirty brunch, then people might actually put their heads down and find a cab instead of pissing and mooning city councilmen.

By the way, Drudge has this as national news, about 1/4 the way down the middle column.

As a cash grab I am not sure this will work anywhere near as well as it is intended.

The costs associated with an arrest are tremendous. The individual must to arrested, transported, then processed at Central Booking & Intake. The facility is already completely swamped, and bookings usually take 14-18 hours. The last thing the city needs to do is further overburden the facility. Furthermore, if the patron is intoxicated, Central Booking will not take them until they sober up, so the officer will have to spend hours with the defendant at the hospital. At taxpayer expense.

After they've been arrested the city will have to pay the officer overtime to appear at trial in an already overburdened court system. I'm sure that the State's Attorney's Office is just thrilled at this proposition. Finally, it will be to judges to impose these huge fines, and I do not believe that a Judge will fine a college student $1,000 for their first offense. All in all I suspect the city will lose money rather than make money.

Instead of a cash grab, if this is actually intended to improve the quality of life, simply detailing extra officers to the areas in question and instructing them to issue citations and arrest individuals who are committing criminal activity should do it. Heck, conduct a "drag-net".

Ultimately the new laws will fail if they are intended to raise revenue, or are superfluous if intended to improve order.


Forgive me for my lack of a citation (I'm about to walk out the door from work) but one of the articles that I read about the fines said that they would be a citation that would not include an arrest. I'm obviously no expert but It sounded like it was strictly a fine so the city may not have all of the burden that you mentioned but would likely have to send officers to court with the associated OT. I'll see if I can find the quote later...

Haven't we all wanted to moon Jack young?

Will the new laws be enforced on Ravens game days or just be limited to Friday and Saturday nights on Cross & Charles Sts.?

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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