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A merciful respite from raving

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Ray Stines and Jon Marsa are as different as the styles of music that reverberate through the walls of their Orange Avenue nightclubs. About the time the last of the rock and roll crowd is straggling out of Stines' Jani Lane's Sunset Strip, younger late-night "ravers" are filing into Marsa's Club at Firestone for a night of techno music. Not surprisingly, Stines and Marsa don't much care for each other. Yet it was a brief meeting of minds between these two club owners that brought to a merciful end the deliberations of the Rave Review Task Force. With the sixth meeting spinning aimlessly on June 5, it was Stines who prompted Marsa to agree to follow a dozen guidelines, "to the letter, if that's what's necessary." From there, the 11 of 17 task force members still in attendance unanimously relented to the terms of the proposal accepted for review Monday by the Orlando City Council. "If this would form a consensus, I can be bought," said task force member and City Attorney Scott Gabrielson, who backed off a proposed 5 a.m. closing time to embrace the group's recommendation for 4 a.m. Bringing this group of diverse personalities together was no small matter. "We're beginning to rehash what we rehashed last time," said Chairman Chris Caruso, as her task force embarked on exactly that With Stines eventually in the lead, the group recommended the closing time -- Marsa's Club, the primary target of the policy, currently hosts raves that go well into the next morning -- and give police more money to combat drug use by the late-night crowd. The group also urged the city to make club owners accountable for further discouraging drug use. Despite all the discourse, the earlier closing hour and the consensus to throw money at the problem were the only changes to a proposal that had been offered two meetings earlier. Otherwise the last two sessions were uneventful, except for a confrontation on May 29 between attorney/club owner Mark NeJame and Orlando Police Lt. Joe Robinson. NeJame insisted on speaking during the meeting, but Robinson, an assistant to Mayor Glenda Hood, warned NeJame to sit down or be tossed out. The two stepped just outside the meeting-room doors, where a toe-to-toe debate ensued. NeJame eventually was allowed to speak. Unfortunately, all he offered was the standard economic-development line about protecting the investments of club owners in their venues. Whether Orlando successfully ups the ante against drug use at The Club and other bars that set up for a late-night clientele, as the task force intended, remains to be seen. The City Council will begin putting its own spin on the process on June 23.

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