But when Ruggles came back to the commission on September 10, the commissioners remebered suddenly how much they disliked granting new liquor licenses. McDavitt's recommendation to deny Ruggles a license passed in less than 60 seconds with no debate.
Minutes later, the commission demonstrated its inconsistency once again. This time they allowed a restaurant to serve drinks to people on the sidewalk.
At that hearing the commission heard a petition to extend Wurthaus' liquor license allowing it to serve liquor at its sidewalk tables. Trying to compromise with strong community opposition, McDavitt suggested that Wursthaus owner Frank Cardullo be permitted to serve liquor at his outdoor tables from Thursday to Sunday. This time McDavitt's fellow commissioners came to Cardullo's support.
Police Chief Anthony G. Paolillo, who doubles as a license commissioner, insisted that the influential owner of the Wursthaus be allowed to serve liquor seven days a week. "The placing of tables and flowers at that location has significantly improved the area in regard to unfavorables," Paolillo said. If Paolillo was referring to the punks that hang out in the Square, he should tell us where he thinks they have gone.
Ruggles is one of those cases that has slipped through the cracks. McDavitt is trying to establish a definitive policy on liquor licenses in the city.
McDavitt became chairman five months ago to begin dealing with frantic neighborhood organization calling for a city-wide ban on liquor licenses. He has listened to businessmen, city officials, and citizens condescendingly trying to teach him about city politics. And with all the hysteria over liquor in Cambridge and previous indiscriminate enforcement, he has his work cut out for him.
In trying to compromise over the Wursthaus issue, McDavitt tried to stay above politics, and decide the case not by some arbitrary standard but by what made sense. Unfortunately, his colleagues, who have been around the commission longer, did not let him.
With the Ruggles license application, McDavitt used past unofficial policy to avoid having to decide on a difficult and controversial issue. Clearly, there is no ban on licenses in Harvard Square; three have been granted since the alleged ban. McDavitt admits that licenses could still be issued if the commission decided they were necessary.
In addition, beer and wine at Ruggles would not be a menace to the community. People who would go to Ruggles to drink alcohol would be at the restaurant for dinner or lunch, not to get drunk. If the Defense Fund and others believe there are too many licenses in the Square, they should fight to remove licenses from owners of establishments who abuse the privelege.
Banning licenses in Harvard Square arbitrarily, as the Superior Court said, is unfair. The Defense Fund and the commission should judge each case on its merits and not just instinctively deny everyone the right to sell liquor.
Do the license commissioners and the Harvard Square Defense Fund have a vendetta against Ruggles? Maybe they just do not like cheddar cheese pizza.