Streets to be closed for Mardi Gras event
A skeletal Nevada City City Council voted Tuesday to close Broad and Union streets to traffic for the Mardi Gras parade March 2, allowing the traditional event to proceed.
The vote was 2-0. Three members of the City Council abstained, citing conflicts of interests.
The Nevada City Chamber of Commerce took over the event after the Joe Cain Society called off the 2003 parade following the arrest of 14 people for drunkenness at February’s parade. The society tried – and failed – to get city and chamber officials to ban alcohol from city streets during the festivities.
Pat Dyer, a former mayor who spoke on behalf of the chamber, said the Joe Cain Society will put on the event in 2004 to ensure its continuation. The event generates a lot of revenue for Nevada City businesses during the off-tourism season, he said.
Chamber members will pay up to $2,500 to hire 10 additional police officers, and the throwing of beads and the street sale of alcohol will be banned, Dyer said.
Last year’s problems were caused, in part, by the unusually good weather which brought huge crowds to Nevada City, Dyer also said.
But First Baptist Church’s the Rev. Bill Romell and others spoke against the street closure. Romell reminded Mayor Kerry Arnett and City Councilman Tom Balch that God Almighty had placed them on the council to be the best stewards they could be for the city.
Arnett and Balch questioned why alcohol was really necessary for people to have fun at the event; but, in the end, they voted for the street closure.
City Attorney Jim Anderson said Wednesday the council could still ban open containers and glass containers on the streets at all chamber-sponsored events.
He also has to determine whether the three members of the City Council who abstained on Tuesday can vote on the possible ordinances, all of which require three votes to be approved.
Under state rules, city officials must recuse themselves when an applicant has paid any of them $250 or more during the previous 12 months.
City Councilman Steve Cottrell gets paid to edit the chamber’s newsletter and has repeatedly said he cannot vote on chamber matters. David McKay said he abstained because the chamber has paid him more than $250 to design graphics for the bike races on Father’s Day weekend.
Conley Weaver, the owner of a bed-and-breakfast in Nevada City, said he, too, abstained because the parade has a financial impact on lodging facilities in Nevada City. “That’s a conflict of interest,”
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