Friday, October 06, 2006

A Better Approach to Liquor Licensing, Enforcement

In my pre-blogging days, I was an occasional critic of Racine's liquor licensing process. My basic problem with the licensing process was that it allowed our alderman and their constituents to use subjective criteria for detirmining who will, or will not receive a liquor license. The subjective criteria that is most unfair is the political pressure from organized groups who can influence the votes of the alderman. This politicizing of the licensing process allows the larger and more influential group to get the result that they want, at the expense of the individual seeking the license. Licenses then can be denied, and have been, based partly on the bigotry of special interests groups. This subjective/political criteria has been justified because of the need to prevent license holders from operating an establishment that will require frequent visits from the police and because of the difficulty removing licenses from the license holders that violate the law. I have often thought that this process is unfair at best, and potentially racist, at worst. An objective criteria for license holding would be best, such as any non-felon over the age of 21 is eligible for a license.

Now the city has a problem with license holder Lenny Hand who owns the City Haul Lounge. According to the JT, 21 people were cited for underage drinking. Also, three guns were discarded on the floor during the raid.

The city should aggressively enforce the law here. They should seek the maximum penalty, which, I would hope would be license removal. But I suspect that they won't because I have often heard that it can be very costly to do so. Perhaps, but it would be costly as well for Mr. Hand to defend a legal case against him.

At any rate, I think it would be much fairer if we had an objective criteria for gaining access to liquor licenses, coupled with aggressive legal action taken against violaters. If we did so, we would not need to engage in the discriminatory practice of trying to detirmine who will violate the law in the future. But if they do violate the law, nail em. Word would get out that you will lose your license, and lots of money to lawyers, if you break the law. After some time, only law abiding individuals would seek the license, as it would be too costly for the scofflaws.


Greg Helding said...

It is funny you should mention this. The Public Safety and Licensing Committee is considering a comprehensive reform of the way we consider licenses and enforce violations. I think it will allow for better decisions and, as you say, a better approach.

You may disagree, but we need to consider the impact on an area when we approve a license. The license is considered a property right and state law makes it difficult to remove it once granted. It can take a long time to undue a mistaken license and great harm can be caused in the interim. Therefore, care must be taken when they are considered in the first place.

Come on down to City Hall Monday at 5:00PM and see the show!

Denis Navratil said...

thanks for the invite Greg. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend. Believe me, I understand the predicament that the city is in. Even so, I suspect that there is more that can be done to discourage license holding lawbreakers. And I would hope that you realize the unfairness and difficulty in trying to predict which license holders will behave lawfully. If you would, I would appreciate knowing when this issue will be discussed again. Thanks Greg.

Wade said...

This is a good example why you may be right about less regulation. If liquor licenses were given out more bars would open up. This in theory would cause prices to come down due to competition. Then I would not have to pay $4.50 for a pint of proper beer in this town. Actually, I don't pay those prices, I choose to drink cheaply, at home, while I blog. That explains alot doesn't it.

Denis Navratil said...

Wade. Yes, the market is your friend. But it will tempt you on a daily basis with good stuff at great prices. But if you can't stop yourself, the market can help you there as well. AA does a great job. I too struggle with the tasty offerings that abound. Presently I am battling an addiction to Chocolate peanut butter custard that is offered at Kaynes on 4 mile. I am powerless. Do you know any aldermen in town who could put them out of business?

Wade said...

I believe Kaynes is located in Caledonia, so you are out of luck. Check with the Village Trustees.

MMMMMMMMM... Frozen Custard