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Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 12:01 am

Bass in your face

Senator calls cops about noise

 It’s late at night, the noise from a bar downstairs in downtown Springfield is keeping you awake.

Who are you going to call?

If you’re state Sen. Antonio Munoz, D-Chicago, you call Illinois State Police.

That, according to a 911 recording obtained by Illinois Times, is the agency Munoz called in an attempt to get some peace and quiet shortly before midnight on Dec. 2, the eve of a special legislative session called so that the General Assembly could vote on a pension reform bill.

Munoz called 911 three times about loud music coming from Marly’s Pub two stories below his bedroom. The first time, he declined to provide his name, saying that he simply wanted a record made of his complaint. He also said that he had called state police. But during the third call, sounding a bit frustrated, he gave his name right away.

“This is Senator Tony Munoz about the loud music downstairs,” the senator told the operator. “The officer came and the music’s even gotten louder, and it’s been about 20 minutes ago. I just want to let you know, also, this is being recorded, so when I call the state police – I’ve already called the director – I just want to know why nothing is being done about this.”

Something was done.

Sean Layton, a DJ at Marly’s Pub, was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct about an hour after Munoz first called 911. The cops found him at the Station House, where he went after turning the mic over to someone else.

Layton says that officers told him that he was being arrested on orders from Mayor Mike Houston, who last year sparked a brief but intense uproar by proposing a ban on outdoor amplified music at downtown festivals after 9:30 p.m.

“The officer said someone who has pull wasn’t happy,” Layton said. “The officer said, ‘They ordered me to arrest you.’ When we were talking, he said three times the mayor was involved. … When I was arrested, another cop said it was the mayor.”

Houston is categorical: He found out about the incident the following day, he never ordered Layton arrested and he doesn’t believe an officer would say so.

“He’s (Layton is) a liar,” the mayor says.

Munoz could not be reached for comment. Monique Bond, state police spokeswoman, confirmed that the senator called state police but did not speak with state police director Hiram Grau.

“(I)t sounds like Sen. Munoz received no immediate response by local law enforcement, and out of frustration called several agencies,” Bond wrote in an email. “Our legislative affairs liaison followed up with the senator’s staff the next morning, but no ISP resources responded. This was a local law enforcement matter.”

Layton says that he turned the volume down when first contacted by police until an officer nodded his head to indicate satisfaction. Layton says the volume remained at that level after another DJ replaced him. The other DJ, Layton says, did not know how to operate equipment that controlled volume.

“He has no idea how I have it set up,” Layton said. “There’s no way he could have turned it up.”

In a written report, an officer says that the bass upon first arrival was intense enough to vibrate street signs in front of the bar, which boasts about its sound on its Facebook page: SO. MUCH. BASS-N-SHIT!!! After telling Layton to turn down the bass, the officer says he went to the senator’s third-floor apartment, where furniture, walls and windows were vibrating. The officer says that he again told Layton to turn it down, and Layton said that he would, but the officer reported that the bass level rose again while he was parked a short distance from the bar, and he again spoke with Layton. The officer says that the bass level rose yet again, prompting a fourth discussion with Layton, who was arrested shortly thereafter at Station House. The senator was the only one to complain about the noise, according to police reports.

Victoria Ringer, director of Downtown Springfield, Inc., says that laws must be enforced.

“I don’t know the circumstances of what happened that night,” Ringer said. “If they were breaking the law and were ordered to stop and didn’t, that would be breaking the law.”

With the number of bars in the area, downtown is noisier than the suburbs, Ringer said, but there is a point where noise can become excessive.

“There has to be common respect between the residents and business owners,” she said.

There is a potential solution to the senator’s concerns about noise from Marly’s Pub.

Munoz owns a vacant three-story building at 520 East Monroe that has been the target of city code enforcers. In 2011, he told the State Journal-Register that he planned to fix it up and put apartments on the upper two stories, with one for himself to use during legislative sessions.

“I want to make it a beautiful building,” Munoz told the daily newspaper. “It’s going to be real nice.”

Nearly three years later, the building remains vacant, with paint peeling from the street-level entrance. Among other code violations, bricks have been falling from the façade, according to the city, and Munoz has failed to register the structure with the city as a vacant building with two or more violations. A hearing has been set for January.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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