Parks again rejects Durbin's call for earlier night club closings
East St. Louis mayor Alvin Parks is again rejecting a call from Sen. Dick Durbin to institute an earlier closing time for the city’s night clubs and liquor stores
Durbin was in his hometown on Wednesday encouraging area ministers to push Parks for a 1 a.m. closing time. Durbin believes it would help curb the killings in a city that a federal prosecutor has called the nation’s most dangerous.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is enlisting East St. Louis church leaders in his fight to rein in the city’s late-night entertainment industry.
The Democrat met with more than fifty members of the New Salem Baptist District Association Wednesday. He urged ministers to pressure Mayor Alvin Parks to close the city's nightclubs and liquor stores at 11 p.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends.
When it’s “last call” on weekends for St. Louis bars and clubs, East St. Louis’ nightlife is just getting started. The city’s slack liquor laws allow nightclubs and liquor stores to operate well into the morning. Many critics say the laws are the root of the city’s chronic violent crime.
The problem poses a delicate balancing act for Mayor Alvin Parks who says East St. Louis’ late-night entertainment industry is keeping the city alive.
East St. Louis nightclubs and other local businesses are bankrolling extra weekend police patrols after a series of violent crimes.
Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. says the city needs more officers on the street but cannot afford them on its own.
“This is taking already existing officers and paying them to work this special detail," Parks said. "A detail that will be about six officers downtown and another two in the rest of the city where there might be late night activity.”
A tight budget has forced East St. Louis to lay off seven more employees, leaving the city's police officers without a support staff.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the latest layoffs include Police Chief Michael Floore's secretary, the department's director of community programs and a records room employee responsible for logging all of the city's tows.
The city also cut employees in the mayor's office, the city clerk's office and the city treasurer's office.
A U.S. senator is stepping up his efforts to limit nightclub hours in East St. Louis.
Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday that earlier closing times for nightclubs and liquor stores would improve safety for city residents. The Illinois Democrat specifically challenged Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. to do his part in reducing crime rates. (Read the full letter from Durbin to Parks).
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is touting new measures to increase security for public housing residents in East St. Louis. The federally-funded plan includes installing cameras at six high-rise properties and hiring a new security coordinator.
"We're going to be putting up lighting and fencing," Durbin said. "We're going to move forward to try to make sure the almost 4,500 residents of public housing in East St. Louis have a safer place to live."