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The latest on late-night debates

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Even if it had wanted to, the Orlando City Council couldn't have granted downtown club owners permission to stay open later to compete for the business generated by more than 100,000 people expected to attend festivities spun off from Gay Day at Disney World.;;Because the city's "anti-rave" ordinance lacked such an exemption clause, "We have no discretion to grant additional hours for special occasions," City Attorney Scott Gabrielson explained on Monday, Jan. 26, in response to a question from Mayor Glenda Hood.;;And so, the Club at Firestone's request to be allowed to stay open until 5 a.m. during the first week in June was quickly dismissed by City Council. That further dashed hopes dampened by Hood spokesman Jim DeSimone's statements placing at "nil" the odds that city officials would soon reconsider the 3 a.m. closing time of the ordinance passed last fall, effectively killing downtown's late-night dance scene.;;Having withdrawn its lawsuit against the city "for the moment," Club owner Jon Marsa has organized a political-action group, the Downtown Orlando Business Coalition, designed to elect City commissioners ready to consider extending the closing time for downtown clubs two hours -- to 5 a.m. Voter-registration and fund-raising efforts are under way. The election is March 10. ;;Meanwhile, Marsa's lawyer, David Wasserman, is plotting alternative strategies. While declining to be specific, he says, "In some fashion, I feel compelled to step up the pressure." He questioned how the city could grant exceptions for city-sponsored events, while granting none to others.;;No legal action is imminent, Wasserman says, but"If we're forced to, it's a case that will be fought out in court at a cost to all sides and at the expense of downtown."

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