Naked City

Gerry's Kids

On more than a dozen occasions, Mark Walters says he has nearly been hit by inebriated motorists leaving the Clubhouse, a private hall located in his neighborhood on South Pleasant Valley Road. He also complains about loud music playing into the wee hours and underage drinking. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officers confirmed Walters' latter concern at 1:50am on April 21, when they issued two "minor in possession" of alcohol citations. According to TABC Sgt. Tom Dickson, who witnessed the scene, many more partiers could have been caught if extra backup had been available, "but the kids scatter when they see you coming."

The Clubhouse's proprietor is Gerald Daugherty, current GOP candidate for the Pct. 3 seat on the Travis County Commissioners Court. Back in February, Walters enjoys noting, Daugherty told the Austin American-Statesman that his business experience will serve him well in office. When it comes to the Clubhouse, however, Walters says he has some issues with the aspiring commissioner's claims of sound business sense. "Either he knows what's going on and doesn't care, or doesn't know at all what's going on."

Several years ago, Walters says, he approached Daugherty to complain about noise coming from the Pleasant Valley Sportsplex, a neighboring ballfield that Daugherty had owned before selling the property to student-housing developers in 1999. "He got into my personal space and replied by verbally jumping on me, [saying] 'We were there first!'" Daugherty insists he has no recollection of meeting Walters or anyone else about trouble at the Clubhouse, but invited those with problems to notify him. "I'm certainly a responsive enough businessperson to listen and try to resolve something," he said, positing that he was being "singled out" for his political beliefs. He gained prominence during the 2000 election as a founder and member of the anti-light rail group Reclaim Our Allocated Dollars (R.O.A.D.).

The Clubhouse has hosted parties for several years, Daugherty continued. No alcohol is sold, and an employee remains on the premises during events. He estimates "90%" of its patrons are UT students. "You absolutely can't control people from buying two beers and taking one to a minor," he said. "You leave that responsibility to the people throwing the party. The police have been over there many a time for people calling and complaining it's too loud. If there was a major issue where people were there drinking underage, the TABC would be doing [something]."

And they did. Simply being the Clubhouse owner was not enough for Daugherty to incur a violation during the April 21 bust, said TABC Lt. David Ferrero. The Commission's main concern is who supplied the alcohol. But if a pattern of problems develops and the Clubhouse is ever declared a nuisance property, he said, the TABC or APD could file an abatement suit against Daugherty for tolerating "improper activities."

Interestingly, Daugherty's campaign Web site (www.votegerald.com) does not mention that he owns the Clubhouse, though it does list his tenure in the Boston Red Sox system and his role as owner/operator of the Sportsplex and other businesses. Meanwhile, Dickson said that when he and other officers checked on the Clubhouse last weekend, "it was empty."

As for Walters, the disgruntled neighbor, he's soon moving out of the area -- and into Pct. 3.

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