Liquor card changes hit a bar

untitled-(96-of-99)-2By Joe Lambe

The raw politics of liquor card law flared Thursday, when a city council clash delayed any change.

The matter began weeks ago when Councilman Scott Wagner introduced a proposal to eliminate the city permit cards required for anyone working with liquor.

The public safety committee, after two contentious public hearings, voted 3-2 to advance a compromise. It would cut down on the number of workers who have to get the cards and would eliminate the requirement that non-profits get temporary cards for events.

Under the system in place for decades, criminals like killers and sex offenders can’t get the three-year cards at all and other felons face restrictions.

On Thursday, less than an hour before the council meeting, council members said they got an altered version of the compromise bill. They said it would allow the citizen Liquor Control Board of Review to decide if specific felons should be denied cards.

Councilman John Sharp, chairman of the public safety committee, moved that the bill be sent back to committee for more public hearing and debate.

“I don’t think it looks good to make these kinds of substantive changes without a public hearing,” Sharp said.

Fellow safety committee members Jermaine Reed and Scott Taylor supported that.

Reed said Wagner should “not just try to railroad something through at the last minute and give it to your colleagues 45 minutes prior to a vote on it.”

Wagner said sending it back to committee would serve no purpose and delay a full council vote for two weeks.

Wagner moved to hold the matter on the full council docket for another week. If more time is needed next week, it can be granted, he said.

Sharp’s motion to send the bill back to committee failed. Wagner’s motion to hold it a week in the full council won.

Councilman Russ Johnson, who is not on the safety committee, told Sharp, “You’ve got a week to work it all out.”


  1. Amy says:

    Only 45 minutes? In the private sector thinking about one thing for 45 minutes is a luxury not a limit that prevents decision making.

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