County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's comments Tuesday about a fight outside the Recher Theatre this week drew attention not only because of his criticism of the owners of the bar but because it was the first time anyone could remember the county's top elected official taking a public stand on a liquor license issue.
And many Patch readers and others were interested in why this issue at this time and what was behind the fairly pointed comments.
Kamenetz's statements mark the first time in recent memory and certainly the first by Kamenetz despite recent, more severe incidents including the stabbing death of a bouncer earlier this month outside Tee Bee's Place in Parkville.
Ellen Kobler, a county spokeswoman whose tenure dates back to County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger, said she could not remember another county executive speaking out on a liquor license issue. She also could not remember a reporter ever asking any of the previous county executives she worked for, either.
Kamenetz said Thursday that he's never commented on similar issues because he's never been asked.
"That's not true," Kamenetz said when I asked about this being the first time he's taken a public position on an incident at a bar. "If anyone were to ask me, you would know my position on any of these issues. The liquor board knows very clearly my position."
Kamenetz said he answered questions Tuesday about the incident at the Recher Theatre because he was asked by reporters during a news event about emergency preparedness.
There were, however, other reasons to speak out, according to the county executive.
"The Rechers are decent owners," Kamenetz said of Brian and Scott Recher. "But quite, there was a lot of raw speculation on racial and other motivations."
During the news conference Tuesday, Kamenetz told reporters he blamed Brian and Scott Recher, owners of the bar, for the fight that resulted, rather than blaming the promoter.
Kamenetz added he was also concerned that the spread of rumors and talk would damage Towson's reputation at the same time developers are building the Towson Square project.
"Towson is not unsafe or unruly," Kamenetz said, adding that rumors and talk to the contrary could damage efforts to revitalize the downtown Towson area along York Road.
Kamenetz declined to say if he believed the bar owners should be brought before the county Liquor Board Commission. Instead, he said he'd wait for the final police report and recommendations.
"This is not about punishing the Rechers or taking the liquor license but it is about sending a message to all license holders to think before you act," Kamenetz said. "Think about the unintended consequences before you act."