chapter  5
13 Pages

THE CAMPAIGN TO CHANGE THE LAW: LOST IN THE LABYRINTH

In the late seventies, when the Department of Consumer Affairs was staying its hand from “music only” clubs, its powers were in fact relatively limited. Consumer Affairs could issue summonses, which were effective against law-abiding people like the Termini brothers, but without a court order it could not close down a recalcitrant scofflaw like a noisy illegal dance hall. In 1982, with the fiscal crisis easing, Consumer Affairs received the power to impose increased fines and to close down clubs through its own administrative processes, without the intervention of a court. In 1984, the City allocated funds for the Department to increase nighttime enforcement; and as one official said, there wasn’t a great deal in the way of consumer affairs work to do at night except to check on nightclubs.1