Politics in a cocktail shaker

NEWPORT BEACH — Mayor Keith Curry stepped away from City Hall this week to have a beer and answer whatever questions pub-goers could toss at him as the first guest speaker of soon-to-be monthly "pub hall" meetings.

Muldoon's Irish Pub hosted Beer, Shots and Politics, an event that aimed to use the relaxed setting of a pub to draw in crowds that otherwise wouldn't participate in a standard political forum, said Muldoon's special events director, Richard Kaplan.

"I think that we've really broken ground here with a new format," Kaplan said of the Wednesday night meeting. "People who were not necessarily here for the pub hall, but here for another reason, ended up really enjoying themselves and getting into it."

With a baseball game playing on two TVs above the bar and overflow from the nearby Edwards Cinema, which had closed its parking lot due to a private outdoor screening of "Inception," many in the bar seemed surprised to have the mayor there discussing politics — and even more surprised when the microphone came their way.

Questions ranged from a young woman who jokingly asked to have her parking fees lowered, commentary on the perception of Newport Beach and reality TV shows, to serious discussion about the city's position on medical marijuana dispensaries — an idea that garnered a big "no" from Curry.

"Because we're a pub, things can get pretty colorful," Kaplan said.

After the questions ran dry, prizes, including tickets for Horn Blower Cruises, a guitar from Newport Guitar and Music, a robe from Tommy Bahama, were raffled.

"I had a lot of fun," the mayor said. "One thing I've seen is that people really appreciate it when you go out of your way to meet them and answer their questions."

The next monthly pub hall meeting is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 25 and Kaplan is looking into having a senator as the special guest, although he said nothing is set in stone.

"I expect that things will get a little interesting as we go forward," Kaplan said. "We want the community to begin to share their opinions and really become engaged in city politics."

If You Go

What: Beer, Shots and Politics

When: 5 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 25

Where: Muldoon's Irish Pub, at 202 Newport Center Drive

Information: (949) 640-4110

Time and date subject to change.

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