Liquor card fight goes another round

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

A controversy over city liquor cards continues after the city council on Thursday agreed to hold the matter for another week.

Weeks ago, Councilman Scott Wagner introduced a proposal to end the liquor card permits required for all workers who deal with liquor.

The public safety committee voted 3-2 to advance a compromise: eliminate the cards for some workers and eliminate temporary cards for non-profit events.

Last week, less than an hour before the full council was to take that up, Wagner amended it to require the cards only for managers. The amended version also says anyone denied a liquor card can appeal to the 12-citizen Liquor Control Board of Review.

The public safety committee, although the bill is no longer before it, clashed again Wednesday in a hearing.

Councilman Jermaine Reed called the amended version a blatant attempt to railroad the legislation.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” he told Wagner.

The cards used since the 50s involve background checks. People convicted of many violent felonies cannot get them at all and other felons are restricted.

Wagner and restaurant and bar owners say very few cities nationwide use the cards and they make no sense.

Advocates for parolees say they deny access to jobs needed to prevent recidivism.

Look to Johnson County cities and KCK and cities nationwide that have never had them, they say.

But Jim Ready, manager of the city Regulated Industries told the committee this week that Wagner’s amended version would hinder liquor control.

For instance, he said, he could not pull a liquor card from a worker who repeatedly sold to a minor. That worker’s boss may fire him but the offender could immediately get another job selling liquor.

Ready says they found felony records last year for 54 people who applied for the cards and lied about it, including one murderer and several sex offenders.

Besides that, Ready said, many felons do not even apply because they see felons cannot get the cards.

Now all felons who want cards and don’t get them can flood to the citizen review panel with appeals, Ready said.

Wagner said in an interview that regulated industries could write regulations that would limit the number of appeals.

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