Letter to the Editor: In Wake of Adam McCloud's Death, Family Supports Tougher Alcohol Ordinance

Larry Odebrecht says his "belief (and hope) is that Adam’s death will be a wake-up call for those institutions who have been harboring ill-tempered patrons, but if they choose not to respond appropriately the police need tools to help make cha

It's been six weeks since my brother-in-law (Adam McCloud) was killed in a downtown bar in Stillwater. Our family is still struggling (as you would expect from a family that lost a brother, son, and uncle), but we have been comforted by the wonderful community that Stillwater and Bayport have proven to be. You have cried along with us and we are truly sorry for your pain as well. 

Stillwater has proven to be so much more than a city and has redefined my definition of community. The outpouring of support has touched all of us. Businesses have held (and helped with) fundraisers, the police have been thoughtful and helped direct us through uncharted waters, and the County Attorney and his office have been a source of support and comfort as they prosecute Adam’s case. Our neighbors made our meals and continue to give us shoulders to cry on, and our clergy offer us wisdom and help us see through this to the larger context. 

One of the better things to come out of this tragedy is a common sense tool that City Council is putting in the hands of the police to ensure that establishments that hold liquor licenses uphold their part of the bargain and police their restaurant and bar. The proposed change would leverage citations to give notice to the bar after 6 incidents, but could eventually end in suspension if the course isn't corrected.  Some of the bars in downtown have not been living up to their obligation to the community to keep the peace - resulting in greater than 30 incidents. My belief (and hope) is that Adam’s death will be a wake-up call for those institutions who have been harboring ill-tempered patrons, but if they choose not to respond appropriately the police need tools to help make change happen. 

What I love about this community is that it doesn't suffer the lack of empathy so indicative of large cities. I have three small children who have grown up here with a sense of safety and security. We know our neighbors and we all pitch in with each other's children. When my kids get out of line, my neighbors feel confident in setting them straight. This is not a community where any business can (or should be allowed to) flagrantly ignore their responsibility to maintain the safety of their customers. 

Please join me in letting City Council know that you support this common sense measure. 

-- Larry Odebrecht, Stillwater

Randy Marsh November 19, 2012 at 10:48 PM
I agree with Josh. I hope for the sake of every bar downtown, Mr. Odebrecht, your attempts and the kind-hearted but ill-advised judgement of the council members doesn't result in an ordinance that creates an undue hardship for those bar owners and their employees. As hard as this may be for you to believe right now, it's not possible to prevent all tragedies and many times the attempts to do so are misguided. If you insist on pushing this, I hope you are doing so with a deeper understanding of what occurred that night than what the greater public has heard or read about this tragic story. In all honesty, people need to hold themselves responsible rather than insisting bars and restaurants do it for them. Their jobs are hard enough, which I'm sure Adam knew as well as anybody.
Larry Odebrecht November 19, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Yeah, I'm really not seeing that in this. I think that 30 calls to the police are way, way too much... don't you? Not sure what you are trying to insinuate with your "deeper understanding" comment, but I'm sure that you'll agree that the calls have gotten to be too much. I'm certainly not pressing this on behalf of Adam, so much as a clearly out of control scene. How much is too much if not 30? 50? 500? Doesn't the public have a right to expect that the business owners downtown will keep their end of the bargain up? Do I need to be worried for my safety downtown? As far as the breathalyzer comment and others like it... that's just plain silly (and it's not in the proposal). Certainly there is a common sense measure that we can all agree to. Nobody is trying to shut anyone down and nobody is trying to make adverse conditions. Randy - what business to you represent?
Larry Odebrecht November 19, 2012 at 11:06 PM
No they won't. That's ridiculous.
Susan November 19, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Mr Odebrecht, First, please let me say how very sorry I am for your family's loss. My son worked with Adam for a while at Acapulco and has had some wonderful things to say about him. I think the concern about the amendment, as it was proposed a few weeks ago, was that it was far too vague. Imagine a patron walking into an establishment who is already intoxicated. If the bar/restaurant calls the police to help with this individual, that call will be marked up and go against that establishment, even though they may have had nothing to do with the individual's intoxication or personality. This seems unfair and unwarranted. The ordinance also mentioned a patron who may be outside on the sidewalk. Again, if an individual is already drunk (over-served elsewhere), it should not be the held against the establishment that the person is standing closest to. I understand that these may seem to be extreme examples, but please believe me when I say that people do a lot of bar hopping downtown and both scenarios happen often. If a patron has been in the same bar all night, shutting down a fight before it happens and/or not serving someone who has had too much to drink, may be easy for bar managers to handle, but trying to assess how much someone has had to drink when they walk in the door, or trying to predict what an individual will do, is nearly impossible.
Susan November 19, 2012 at 11:58 PM
continued: I am in favor of a bar having to pay the costs for "excessive" police calls to their establishment, but I think there needs to be more input from the police and the bar owners as to what is defined as excessive and what will be held against the establishment. The city tried to do a good thing here, but they acted impulsively and put forward an amendment that was too vague and incomplete. I think the general public (even the bar owners) would support a revised amendment with more details. It is important to get input from the public, the bar/restaurant owners and managers, and the police. We want to make sure that the bars are holding up their end in keeping the public safe, but we don’t want to punish a bar that has not contributed to a problem patron and their actions. For the record, nothing I have written here is meant to reflect what happened on that terrible night. My best to you and your family, Susan
Larry Odebrecht November 20, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Susan - I don't think we're very far apart on this. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Nobody is trying to harm our downtown businesses that act responsibly. I certainly am not inclined to try to bully any of the local businesses, but there does need to be something in place. Sounds like we agree on that much, and I'm looking forward to an amended version that can gain your support.
Surface2976 November 20, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I wish that the proposed ordinance had been provided so that we could read it and decide for ourselves. While I feel for the grief Mr. Odebrecht's family has suffered, a decision to support or oppose this ordinance has nothing to do with his family's grieving process after Adam's tragic death, or the author's child-rearing practices, despite the fact much of the piece focuses on exactly those things. Based on Mr. Oderbrecht's description of the proposal, I think it is an understandable, yet misguided, over-reaction to Adam's death. I would be interested to know how it was decided that six calls are too many. That decision seems arbitrary; especially since there is no information as to what time-period the ordinance contemplates. Is it 6 six calls in a year? Five years? Ever? I also believe it is necessary to understand how the ordinance defines "calls" . Is it only "calls" for alcohol related incidents? There are many reasons the authorities may need to be called to a business that have nothing to do over-served patrons, and it is unclear if those types of calls would count against the allotted six. If those calls are not alcohol related but count against the six, then why should the establishment's liquor license be at risk? Lastly, I fear that this ordinance may dissuade establishments from calling the authorities in times of need due to fear for their licenses. I think it could create unintended negative consequences for other patrons.
Susan November 20, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Yes, it seems that there are a couple establishments that have had more problems than the other bars downtown, which is why I think they should pay for the cost of those extra police calls. I think this would encourage them to stop problems (if they can) before they start, and discourage over-serving. I do worry that the bars will try to handle problems internally vs. calling the police, which could result in larger problems, but this is part of the issue that needs to be worked out. As I said above, I think the city council was well intentioned, but they jumped in too quickly and the proposed amendment was poorly written. It is my understanding that they have talked to some of the bar owners and I hope they follow through and put together some kind of meeting or public forum for the council, the establishment owners, the public and the police. This would be a great starting point and give the council a more broad view of the issues and problems, and how to deal with them. Thank you for your letter and input. I think it is important for people to keep this issue in mind and remind the council that it is still important.
Surface2976 November 20, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Also, when I set up my Patch account I didn't realize my username would also be my only name in the comments. I didn't intend to post anonymously. It should have said Sam Surface. I have no horse in this race and no affiliation with any business that could be affected by this ordinance. I am an attorney and don't have any of those businesses as clients, either.
Susan November 20, 2012 at 12:33 AM
There is a copy of the proposed ordinance/amendment attached to this article. It is a PDF by the picture. http://stillwater.patch.com/articles/stillwater-city-council-considers-tightening-up-liquor-ordinance-for-downtown-bars#pdf-11766448
Randy Marsh November 20, 2012 at 01:47 AM
What I meant by deeper understanding is that whatever did or did not occur on that fateful night and whether or not anything could have realistically done to prevent what occurred. I agree that 30 is probably too many calls, but 6 is far too low a threshold when you are talking about significant penalties for businesses that may not have complete control over those calls. Others have commented on appropriate concerns and I agree largely with Susan and Surface. I have spent enough time downtown and nobody should be overly concerned about their safety unless they do things to create unsafe situations. You can sell it however you want, but limiting businesses to 6 or even 10 calls a month without some process in place to protect businesses from incidents that are out of their control is bullying. Also, you've got to be kidding if you think you're not pushing this because of Adam and what happened. Is is just a coincidence that you are asking people to support this now for no particular reason? Funny that we didn't hear from you 3 months ago if that's the case.
Larry Odebrecht November 20, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Thanks Sam. You and Susan bring up good points and it sounds like there is room for improvement. I would agree the the number seems somewhat arbitrary, but let's keep in mind that this is a starting point. There also doesn't seem to be any tool in the polices arsenal to affect change if there really is a chronic problem. So, help me out here. If there really is a chronic problem... what do you suggest. Let's assume that the situation is bad enough that we both agree that something has to stop... then what? Set aside the rule as it stands... what would you do? I can tell you honestly that the impression I have gotten in my conversations is that nobody wants to shut down any business.
Larry Odebrecht November 20, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Also, there's an opportunity to help right now. The accused has been let out on bail as of today. One of the terms of his bond is that he not enter establishments that serve alcohol. My wife and cousin are canvasing downtown tonight with flyers asking our bars and restaurants to call the police if they see him so that his bond is revoked.
Randy Marsh November 20, 2012 at 03:26 AM
"I can tell you honestly that the impression I have gotten in my conversations is that nobody wants to shut down any business." I guess we'll know whether this is true by whatever ordinance the council comes back with under apparent pressure from you and others. I am not going to get into a back and forth with you on this, but just understand that you cannot claim you are not doing this because of Adam when in fact that particular incident is the only reason you are pushing for the increased enforcement crackdown and any reasonable person not directly involved can see this. Best of luck to you. I hope you can find the peace you are seeking without a direct negative impact on the many bars and establishments in Stillwater which bring joy and good times to many.
Larry Odebrecht November 20, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Too late you already did. I'm sure the readers of this will see your nasty spiteful tone, recognize that you have the facts against you (30 calls to one bar, a death, etc), and see the more reasoned discussions by the adults and recognize that something has to be done. I looked up some of your other "comments". Not so big when someone call you out for your bullying are you? Next time try a more reasoned and respectful approach like Sam and Susan. Pro tip: You get further with people when you treat them well.
Shawn Hogendorf November 20, 2012 at 03:46 AM
OK. Please, let's try to keep this civil. What happened six weeks ago was no doubt tragic on many fronts. When it comes to the ordinance that is before the City Council, people are going to have differing opinions, please be respectful of that. In the reporting I have done on this proposed ordinance amendment, I have never gotten the feeling that bars owners are against an ordinance if behavior in an establishment is an ongoing problem. They want whatever is drawn up and voted on by the City Council to be fair, thorough and transparent, which in my opinion, isn't too much to ask.
Randy Marsh November 20, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Good luck in pursuit of your pound of flesh and pint of blood. I speak the truth. Honesty is the best policy, even if it's what people don't want to hear. You can't even admit what is obvious to all.
Larry Odebrecht November 20, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Typical... can't argue on it's merits, so you attack my motives. It doesn't make any sense even. You're so rattled that someone stood up to you that you can't even make a reasoned argument. Seriously, join the conversation that the adults are having.
Randy Marsh November 20, 2012 at 04:18 AM
My bad, was I using my "rattled" font? I should have been using Susan's "sarcasm" font, which I will now: You are being totally honest about your motives and show superior intellect and reason beyond reproach. Back to the "shaking in my boots" font, I sincerely wish you and your family and friends the best as continue to deal with a tragic situation that I wouldn't wish upon anyone.
Randy Marsh November 20, 2012 at 04:39 AM
I hope Adam didn't take his communication cues from you on that night or the jurors should have an easy time with this case. I have learned a lesson from all of this and will now walk away.
Larry Odebrecht November 20, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Wow. So now you're bringing my later brother-in-law into this. How big of you.
Christine Thole November 20, 2012 at 03:04 PM
In my opinion we should explore this from another angle. "Too many" police calls within an establishment makes for an establishment that will do anything but call the police. Perhaps too many police calls should be a good thing, meaning no consequence except for a common police presence downtown. Establishments that call a willing police department because they have a full house and desire a "walk through" could create a reputation for having a police presence as a good thing. But we can't change the world. Such a sad story. Sorry for your loss Larry.
Larry Odebrecht November 20, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Thanks Shawn. Again, I think that's what we're asking for, and there seems to be a lot of common sense out there with folks. I haven't gotten the sense that any change is abhorrent either and there is a lot of civil discussion mixed in here (sans some childishness). Personally, I view a review by the businesses as a good thing. I think we’re starting to build consensus. To my eye, the final product should meet these tests: 1. Establishments shouldn't be able to 'accidentally' trigger a penalty. 2. The lines should be very clear and agreed to. 3. Continued abusive behavior should eventually be met with something with teeth after passing through some graduated steps. Loss of a liquor license is the kiss of death and we don't want to go down that road until we need to.
Larry Odebrecht November 21, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Thanks Christine, and I think I owe everyone an apology. I don't normally rise to that kind of bait, but I felt bullied and when I do, I sometimes respond in a way that (I hope) is beneath me. The incessant mischaracterization of my view and personal slights was a little annoying and I allowed it to get under my skin - and (to my regret) responded in kind. I'm sorry. That said, the numbers (divorce Adam from them) do paint a picture, don't they? As I understand it, an amended version that has the support of the local business community is making its way through the process. I'm looking forward to seeing that version. This really is a great community and I'm excited to see what happens when we all put our heads together to solve what (in my view) is a clear problem.
Dan November 21, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Larry, I am sorry for your loss. Shawn, it is clear once again that Randy Marsh is an 'internet tough guy' and a troll. I would support any effort to ban him from posting on this site.
Dan November 21, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Oh, and Randy Marsh is not his real name, to be sure. That is a character on South Park.
Scott in Wisconsin November 22, 2012 at 08:01 PM
For those of you not connected to the bar industry to believe you can control and regulate how different patrons will react while drinking is rediculous. I have worked many nights as a bouncer and I can say from personal experience you never know what to expect, I have seen people I know to be calm, respectful patrons turn into complete idiots, I have seen loving married couples in all out fist fights, I have seen people going from quiet and reserved one minute to throwing punches the next. A bouncer can only do and anticipate so much, you try and keep the peace as much as you can and obviously a place like Marx is not going to have the same calls as a place like Smalley's. The actions of a patron are not always dependent on his general attitude but often on the emotional baggage he carries with him that day and as a bouncer you're often putting your life on the line for a part time job paying $10 per hour with no benefits.
Bam Granville Melba Willis November 27, 2012 at 08:07 PM
It is customary for the loved ones of the deceased to look for places to place blame no matter how misguided and I totally understand that, however at what point do you accept that your loved one played a role in the outcome? Mr. Odebrecht, can you honestly say that you could walk away from someone who repeatedly shoves you? You can't even walk away from words on a computer! You mentioned to Randy that he would'nt make the same comments to your face! If he was in your face what would your reaction be? You have decided that Eric Richard is to blame for all of this even going so far as referring to him as a Killer! When exactly are you going to start stating facts and not just your own truths? For example what was Adam's behavior in the bar that night? I ask this question because you seem to want to paint the picture that Eric maliciously went after Adam like a raging alcoholic with no motive for his actions. Are you insinuating that Eric take responsibility for both his actions and actions of Adam? Let us move beyound the bar...How many times did Adam fall and hit his head while in the hospital before he rapidly deteriorated ? Better question is what was his condition before the falls in the hospital? You talk alot about God I wonder if he is on board wth your condemnation? It is a GREAT tragedy that Adam is no longer here but we will not forfeit the life of our son so that you can feel better. I do sincerely hope that you and your family find peace. God bless yoe
Bam Granville Melba Willis November 27, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Im sorry I meant to say God bless YOU
Larry Odebrecht November 27, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Ms. Willis - I'm not involved in or commenting on the case the state has against Mr. Richard. It was a tragic night for many and I'm not involved in his prosecution. The prosecutors office would be the place to direct your comments. As I understand it, the facts of the case will be established in court. I have nothing to say about them or Mr Richard beyond that. None of the claims that you have made about Adam or Mr. Richard have come from me. That is for the court to decide. As I understand it, there is video that will shed a lot of light on the responsibility, but that is not for me to determine. As I've said in the paper, there are many family's affected by this. I'm truly sorry for the struggle your family is facing as well. I know that that is the prevailing view in my family.


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