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Stillwater City Council Considers Tightening Up Liquor Ordinance for Downtown Bars

The Stillwater City Council unanimously passed the first reading of an amendment to the city's liquor code aimed at "improving conduct" at downtown drinking establishments.

The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the first reading of an amendment to the city’s alcohol ordinance that is aimed at “improving conduct” at some downtown drinking establishments.

Currently, the city’s ordinance covers a variety of issues ranging from selling alcohol after hours and serving minors to tax evasion, but nothing that holds liquor license holders accountable for the conduct in and around their establishment, City Attorney David Magnuson said Wednesday afternoon.

The new amendment to the city ordinance includes several provisions that define “habitual violators” and would allow the city to issue citations for violations that are found by the city to be unacceptable, Magnuson said. If the amendment passes, the city's liquor code would include disorderly conduct, assault, unlawful assembly, noise and outdoor music violations and trespassing.

“This is not intended to hassle anyone except those who have gone over the edge with regards to the number of police calls to an establishment,” Magnuson said. “In some cases police have been called 30 times this year. This is a way to put pressure on license holders to improve conduct.”

If the amendment passes, any combination of six conduct-related incidents reported at a drinking establishment over the course of a year could mean a violation and citation.

If an establishment is found in violation, an administrative hearing officer would take the severity of the violation into consideration—along with the number of reported incidents—and determine a penalty.

“The fine and suspension would ratchet up with each violation the license holder receives,” Magnuson said. “We think they have to do a better job of controlling what happens in their establishment and they have to be accountable.”

Those penalties could ultimately reach as high as a $2,000 fine and a suspension of the liquor license for up to 90 days.

The license premises, in terms of the amendment to the city ordinance, would include conduct that occurs inside the establishment, immediately outside the establishment and on the adjacent sidewalk or street.

Washington County Watchdog October 18, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Don't worry Randy, there aren't any fiscal conservatives on the city council... they just told us that to get elected ie: the mayor is a big one >:(
Washington County Watchdog October 18, 2012 at 08:39 PM
And.... out of left field comes Mr. Carlson!
Washington County Watchdog October 18, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Yeah it's all good until they come to your job and tell you how to run it.
jmh October 18, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Many cities have similar laws, policies, ordinances, whatever you want to call them, and find them helpful. Hopefully they'll inquire instead of reinventing the wheel to use language that is well thought out. Perhaps the introduction of this could have been better handled with more notice though.
Mike October 18, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Sorry jmh, but I have to disagree. You are correct that many cities do have this problem. However, placing the blame on business owners is wrong. This is a team effortin which legislation will play a very small part. This will take a cooperative effort on behalf of the police and business owners.
grasshopper October 18, 2012 at 09:45 PM
"is it Harcki or Gannaway or Roush simply trying to exact revenge on Pub Monique?" Might be just a tad bit late for this!
Eric Coffman October 18, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Agreed. Who's job is it to handle unruly citizens again?
Oskar Zetterlund October 19, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Whoever wrote the article needs an editor of their own. And hey, do the city council members want all of downtown to become a game of musical businesses? Take into consideration the decrease in income the whole town will have to live with. Your talking about killing a local economy. And for what? Do the cops have anything better to do? Really? I dont think so. Go bust some kids for loitering or smoking pot... Whatever pays your bills each month I guess.
Josh strand October 19, 2012 at 08:27 AM
When is the next meeting? As a consumer it's rediculous. It is up to the person consuming to be responsible and respectful. The joys of down town is the noise, the bands, the music the life. What this is attempting to do is suck the life out of our town. They already took lumberjack days. Again when is the next council meeting I plan to be there with a good portion of paitrons who dissagree with this ordinance.
Josh strand October 19, 2012 at 08:34 AM
Why don't we put a no drinking stamp on the backs of the IDs of violent people, they do have a section for that for DUI offenders don't they? Hold the violent people responsible, don't place the blame on an enjoyable establishment. Maybe the law enforcement is too easy on violent offenders.
Josh strand October 19, 2012 at 08:37 AM
And too quick to place the blame on what the police seem to think of as an inconvenience, the establishments. Well think of how low their paycheck will be when they have nothing to do. Whole lotta seatbelt tickets.....
Josh strand October 19, 2012 at 08:51 AM
And on another note 30times out of 365days?....that doesn't seem like a lot. Isn't that what we are paying them for? From our offenders who pay for probation, urinalysis, court fees, tickets for rediculous petty things, and not to mention taxes. The 30 times out of 365days should be well payed for by the people they arrest at the time, if it wasn't for the calls they wouldn't make any money, right?
Peggy Sue October 19, 2012 at 01:52 PM
How the he** have you turned this into blaming conservatives? You're amazing Michael Carlson! And Stillwater without its large annual festivals and half the night spots would be MUCH BETTER. And a few less idiots trying to make this discussion a forum for your judgmental ridiculous remarks would also be MUCH BETTER.
Shawn Hogendorf October 19, 2012 at 02:53 PM
The next meeting is Oct. 30.
John Phillips October 19, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I can see it now. Everyone gets a barcode wristband on their way into town. They get scanned everytime they go into a bar, buy a drink, are involved in any type of fracas, etc. All information goes into a database for future reference. More government workers are hired to analyze data, have meetings, fret over what to do to protect us from ourselves...
Shawn Hogendorf October 19, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Sounds a bit like "1984," John.
ControlledBurn October 20, 2012 at 01:10 AM
You're*
ControlledBurn October 20, 2012 at 01:12 AM
The meeting with this on the agenda is October 30th? What happened to the first and third Tuesday of the month? Does this count as an emergency session? Is it open?
Shawn Hogendorf October 20, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Hey Ben: Nov. 6 is Election Day, so the meeting was moved up to Oct. 30. The second meeting of November will be the third Tuesday. Not an emergency session, but it was voted to move the meeting date earlier this year. Here's a link to the city council calendar on the city's website: http://www.ci.stillwater.mn.us/vertical/sites/%7B5BFEF821-C140-4887-AEB5-99440411EEFD%7D/uploads/Meetings_2012.pdf The meeting, by law, is open to the public. Whether or not this agenda item would be open for discussion during the open forum at the meeting, I'm not sure. There may also be an opportunity for public hearing during the second reading of the amendment... I can follow up on Monday to see how the public can weigh in.
Washington County Watchdog October 20, 2012 at 01:52 AM
How about the large anual festivals (aside from 4rth of July and ceremonies and parades for the troops) pay for themselves? I'm from Duluth originally and all summer long there are events... most have vendors and sponsors and they pay for themselves.
Washington County Watchdog October 20, 2012 at 02:00 AM
+1... it's like the countless lawsuits gun manufacturers have to fight off seeking "justice." They lose everytime and guns still are getting made. If they want to put a curb on violence they should create stiffer punishment for the people abusing the guns and alcohol. If not we should write up a lawsuit against spoon manufacturers and Crisco for making America fat lol... common sense people:)
Washington County Watchdog October 20, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Shawn writes great stories... without him the Stillwater city council would hardly be in check with the other media sources that don't attend almost every council meeting like Shawn. He writes good non-biased stories and tells us the facts without all the passive agressive liberal (or conservative) slant.
Washington County Watchdog October 20, 2012 at 02:13 AM
You can google it, but yes October 30th for the city council they usually meet on the 1st Tuesday of the month - 4:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. and the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. You can sign up for the e-mails telling you what is in the agenda... read the first two pages carefully because they like to write it as brief and labile as possible as to not attract the public to actually attend... usually just a sentence, no write up about the language in the proposals at all. I HIGHly suggest the public attend these meetings and use the time to speak at the meeting. Sign up for the e-mails, get your facts straight, and give a respectful but stern talk to them that you're tired of excessive ordinances, spending, taxes, or what have you.
Washington County Watchdog October 20, 2012 at 02:24 AM
It's not the law enforcement's fault (the cops) it's the court's... the cops legally can't camp outside of bars waiting for drunks to get in their cars and turn the key... yes there is a law against that. The cops can't arrest drunk or loud people on private property unless they are called there... again they aren't allowed to camp out in or around bars. Lastly, the cops arrest these people over and over for the same "disorderly conduct" or whatever and over and over they go right back to drinking the next day... not saying they should be locked up forever, but increase the penalties, fines, make it a felony on the third time, etc... The problem here isn't the bars or cops it's the crappy laws that allow re-peat offenders... but of course it'd be unfair and biased to punish drunks more because alcoholism is a disease... there'd be lawsuits faster than you can say ACLU if there was an actual crackdown. You can't make it a felony because then they couldn't vote for democrats lol (jk).
Washington County Watchdog October 20, 2012 at 02:28 AM
lol, it's sad but true... get on your tin foil hat: no lie, the government has built the world's largest database. It's located in Utah and it's a super computer that can litterally hold a file on every American citizen.... when the republicans in congress put up resistance to it the Obama administration and democrats passed it saying "the information is to valuable NOT to have." Google it (no tin foil hat required).
Washington County Watchdog October 20, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Thank you so much Shawn for the article and follow up. We really appreciate the info and time you put in to the articles and the responses.
grasshopper October 20, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Uh Matt, what law would this be?..... "It's not the law enforcement's fault (the cops) it's the court's... the cops legally can't camp outside of bars waiting for drunks to get in their cars and turn the key... yes there is a law against that." I believe as long as there on public property they can do exactly this.
grasshopper October 20, 2012 at 09:11 PM
I just read the actual proposal, what this thing says is that if a patron leaves a different bar or arrives at a bar inebriated he can cause trouble on the sidewalk outside the premises (even after being denied entry) or conversely a bar can do the right thing and kick out an unruly patron and still be charged for his actions outside the bar, sounds to me like the lawyers are going to be the ones making money off this plan.
Monique Hammer November 05, 2012 at 06:16 AM
It is definitely to late for me at Pub Monique. I was very proud of what I tried to do there in the almost to 2 yrs I was there. Serving food until 2 am was very important to me. I was proud of the small amount of trouble I had there. I was really hoping to get some kind of communication open with the other downtown establishments to let them know that when I denied entry to trouble makers or when I would have them leave because they were unruly, to give the other bars a heads up so they knew not to let them in their places. Another thought would be that law enforcement would ask them to leave the city at time of incident. I had no luck with that. I worked at my family establishment in Somerset for 24 yrs and implemented a call system to warn the other restaurant and bars of the culprits so they would be saved of any further trouble! Worked nicely and formed a bond and respect for each other a form of trust system. After all the hospitality/service industry is tough enough! Everyone should be working together especially when there are that many liquor licenses in a few block radius! Teamwork! With the board the police department. Thank you Randy and grasshopper btw Monique
Larry Odebrecht November 16, 2012 at 05:09 PM
I guess I'm a little surprised by the responses. This doesn't strike me as "knee-jerk reaction". My brother-in-law was murdered in a bar fight inside a downtown bar, and the police don't have a good form of recourse against the bar (which had 9 assaults the two weeks prior). In these situations, the bar should worry about it's liquor license. It's simple common sense.

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