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Street-Meat Fight Erupts Downtown

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We know our readers. And we know they're the type of people who have probably noticed how tough it's been for the last several weeks to find late night grub at the hotspot of Sixth and Main. Here's the reason: Boise City Clerk Annette Mooney had several markers designating vendor locations removed, for reasons, she says, of alleviating congestion. Some of the affected vendors are saying Mooney acted improperly, and accusing the clerk's office of favoritism.

According to a letter sent by the vendors to Mayor Dave Bieter's office last week, they are specifically objecting to the clerk allowing Pair restaurant to open a sidewalk cafe after the vendors had been removed. They also accuse the city of unlawfully allowing Pair to serve alcohol after sunset, when city law prohibits it on the sidewalks.

Mayor's Office spokesman Michael Zuzel told BW on Tuesday that the city had investigated the matter and "can find no foundation" for the vendors' claims of impropriety on the part of the city clerk. "We're convinced that all the proper procedures were followed," he said. "City Code makes it clear that it is up to the city to decide where those vendor locations are." Zuzel admitted, however, that the allegations had exposed a contradiction in city code. "We permit restaurants to have outdoor cafes where alcohol is served. We can't do that and tell them not to serve alcohol after dusk," he said, adding that the law would soon be changed. So remember, local lushes: river=dry, sidewalk=wet.

Vendor spokesman Eric Savage said despite the city's findings, he and other vendors would continue to fight what they feel to be an unfair eviction from a valuable corner. "They said these locations are assigned to vendors, and now they're saying, 'We can remove them whenever we want to,'" he told BW. "I'd like to know where in the code it says they can do that." Savage added that he thought it was "rather arrogant" of the city to announce their conclusions without meeting with him and the other merchants, who he says could present "evidence that might make them have a change of heart."

In the meantime, the carts formerly on the corner will operate in other nearby locations, such as on Sixth in front of Dirty Little Roddy's for the 22--year Boise institution TJ's Yankee Dog, and on Main in front of Pengilly's for the BW-fave Aladdin cart. (Seriously, if Aladdin's marinated onions were to disappear, we'd start a whole new city.)

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