County leaders split over push to close bars earlier

Oct 1, 2015

Even though a poll shows residents support closing bars earlier in Erie County, Legislature Majority Leader Joe Lorigo is unswayed by the results.


Under a new proposal, bars along Chippewa Street and the rest of Erie County, would close earlier.
Credit WBFO News file photo

"It's a 'push poll,' encouraging people to support an earlier closing time for bars," Lorigo told WBFO News.

Pollster Barry Zeplowitz says Lorigo is wrong. Zeplowitz says none of the questions were negative or one-sided. The poll was commissioned by County Clerk Chris Jacobs who says Zeplowitz has a national reputation.

Lorigo says it's not that he's opposed to changing the closing time. But he says the facts do not support Jacobs contention that it will improve public safety.

"The reality is Erie County is 48th out of 62 New York counties for alcohol-related accidents and fatalities," Lorigo said. 

"Our DWI arrests are lower than the state average. In surrounding counties, where you have bars that close 2 a.m., you have higher alcohol-related traffic accidents."

According to the Sheriff's office, the DWI-related charges in 2014, on average, peaked twice each day at 5 p.m. and at 2 a.m.

Lorigo says government should not be arbitrarily regulating private business with facts that don't exist.