Gerard plans to issue emergency order for 'Unofficial'

CHAMPAIGN — Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Don Gerard said he plans on issuing an emergency order again for March 1 and 2 to moderate the flow of liquor on campus while University of Illinois students and their guests drink through the weekend.

The idea, he said, is to minimize house and apartment parties where there is the most potential for trouble.

"We have a lot of property damage, injuries and potential for mayhem," Gerard said.

In the past, city officials have limited the sale of alcohol on campus only as far west as the train tracks. Gerard said that geographic area will be widened a bit this year to include businesses such as Fat City Bar and Grill and Hollywood Liquors, both of which are immediately west of the tracks.

As liquor commissioner, Gerard has the authority to issue an emergency order and make the city's laws on alcohol more stringent for a short period when he determines that the health, safety or welfare of residents is in danger.

Gerard has been making use of that authority on Unofficial St. Patrick's Day weekend since he took office in 2011, and then-Mayor Jerry Schweighart had done so for years before that. "Unofficial" is officially held on a Friday — this year on March 1 — but the festivities and the mayor's emergency order usually extend into the following Saturday and early Sunday morning.

Last year, Gerard restricted bar entry to those 21 and over, limited keg and other sales at liquor stores, prohibited special pricing by bars and required someone at the door of each campus bar to check identification, among other restrictions.

Even though the city or the university try to distance themselves from the campuswide party, Gerard said, it is important to acknowledge the event for the danger it poses.

"I'm pleased that the university is actually working with us to have more of a message to actually be safe," Gerard said.

Gerard said the university will be taking steps again to alert students and their parents to the dangers of "Unofficial."

While steps are being made to keep everyone as safe as possible, Gerard said city officials cannot stop students of legal age from drinking alcohol.

"It's just a bad idea," Gerard said.

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Speakerman11 wrote on February 19, 2013 at 8:02 am

Rock on!

welive wrote on February 19, 2013 at 9:02 am

We all know how everyone loves to hate this event,however lets look at all the money it brings into town.This years attendence is going to be around 20000 people WOW

Thank You MR Cockren

Bulldogmojo wrote on February 19, 2013 at 9:02 am

How about NG does a story afterward reporting on all the alcohol related sexual assaults, assaults, accidents, and acute alcohol poisonings that turn up at McKinley after this wonderful money making weekend

SaintClarence27 wrote on February 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I hope this happens. I am generally skeptical of "events" that bring in so much money. We all know how much money the Olympics and Super Bowls make - none. I'm not sure of any studies as far as this goes. Of course, the bar owners see all of the money without paying any of the costs, so why wouldn't *they* want it?

David Illinois wrote on February 19, 2013 at 10:02 am

"Don Gerard said he plans on issuing an emergency order"...if it is known about months in advance, it is not really an emergency.

dsee768 wrote on February 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm

"It's just a bad idea," Gerard said.

Was Gerard drinking when he threatened his ex-girlfriend?  Should he be giving advice on civil conduct?

sweet caroline wrote on February 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Where is the "esteemed" mayor of Urbana, Laurel Prussing, on this issue?  Part of the university is in Urbana, too. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm

We are back to the "twin cities" question.  Why not one city since only one street divides the two cities?  Three police departments with be involved plus the Sherrif's department.  The primary work will be done by the Champaign police, University police, and Urbana police.  Party goers should be advised to not bring their dogs.

Danno wrote on February 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

She might be busy posting bond monies for the son of The Urbana Landmark Hotel...

Local Yocal wrote on February 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm
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Nothing exposes the class and white privilege that influences The Drug War like this event. If the same rules of The Drug War were applied to this event, Scott Cochrane would be treated like the drug kingpin he is, the Campus Bar Association would be treated like a drug cartel, and there would be 10,000 arrests. Unofficial proves how illigitimate and hypocritical The Drug War is. Notice today's Daily Illini front page story to further see how the rules of The Drug War are changed when applied to a different class, and a different race. Naomi Jakobssen tries to convert The Drug War into a health issue for the middle class to score votes from the middle class. Police admit to unequal application of the laws by confessing they've been treating students differently all along.

Tomorrow night, at the Illini Union, rooms A,B,C Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow will elaborate on this hypocrisy at 6:00 p.m. Event is free and open to the public.

urbana1234 wrote on February 19, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Can't wait for the photo gallery the day after, classy as always News Gazette.