Thursday, September 13, 2007

Liquor License Madness

Jim Spodick owns a rather large building on 6th Street in downtown Racine. He is working on the building and hopes to open a business there. I don't have nearly enough details at this point, but the club would include a large enough space for dancing and the business would feature Latin music. Spodick and or his tenant have recently been met with a decidedly unenthusiastic city council when applying for a liquor license. At this point I don't know if a vote has been taken yet on the liquor issue, but it doesn't look good, apparently, for Spodick and company.

I have frequently written about the insanity that accompanies liquor licensing. The city council seeks information with which they try to determine beforehand whether a licensee or licensed establishment will become problematic. Applicants understand this and adjust accordingly. That is why, when you go to one of these meetings, you will hear an applicant say something like "we will not be playing hip hop music or serving 40 ounce malt liquor in bottles" which is code for "you don't have anything to worry about, alderman, we will make sure not to attract any problematic black people to our fine upstanding establishment ." Of course Jim Spodick's establishment will include slasa dancing so there is no getting around the possibility that Mexicans might show up. As such, coded assurances to the council were not an option.

The city of Racine is going to get sued someday for this nonsense, and when they do, they deserve to lose. Licenses should not be issued or denied based on prejudiced assumptions about future customers. Rather, a licensee should get his license based on objective criteria (like whether he has a criminal record or has sold alcohol to minors) rather than subjective and potentially prejudiced opinions.


Anonymous said...

How is this process different than zoning regulations or temp use permits?
It is the 'state' controlling types of businesses and their locations.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about temp use permits but I believ zoning regs use an objective criteria. The zones are mapped out already for business or residential, so one knows beforehand if a particular use of land is permitted. Not so with liquor licensing, wherin council members take into consideration all sorts of info, like what kind of music will be played. Denis Navratil

Jennafer said...

as they control their little empires