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Rogina Pitches St. Charles Liquor Code Reforms

St. Charles alderman and candidate for mayor polishes suggestions he offered during Monday’s City Council committee meeting.

A St. Charles mayoral candidate is calling for “commonsense reforms to the liquor code” he believes will help to settle down alcohol-related problems that sparked a proposal in August to cut back the business hours for bars and taverns.

Third Ward Alderman Ray Rogina on Tuesday pitched the proposals he first offered as a question and some suggestions Monday night to his fellow aldermen, who were meeting as the City Council Government Operations Committee.

Rogina asked the city staff Monday night to see if there is a model — ostensibly an ordinance already in use by another community — that treats the 2 a.m. closing time as a privilege that needs to receive City Council approval year by year.

Doing so, he said in a release he issued Tuesday, would make the later hour “contingent upon responsible management and an annual review by the City Council.”

Rogina also called for revising the liquor code to spell out specific consequences for bar owners cited for violations. Monday night, he said the code leaves the liquor commission too much flexibility in meting out punishment.

“Clarity in defining punishment takes subjectivity out of enforcement,” he wrote Tuesday. “A step process leading to (liquor license) revocation should be clearly enumerated. Of course, due process is always a required element.

“Liquor licensees are valued merchants of our community and we are grateful for the role they play in creating a viable entertainment district in downtown St. Charles,” he continued. “But all of us have an interest in ensuring that their operation is not disruptive to the larger community.”

Rogina expounded upon a third point he raised Monday in regard to restaurants that become de facto bars once they close their kitchens. The liquor code, he said, should clarify the different license classes “to more clearly delineate the differences between restaurants that serve alcoholic drinks with food and those that do not.

“Right now, a restaurant that has a primary objective of food sales with a liquor license can be classified in the same category with a bar that serves food,” he said. “Let's separate the two and ask ourselves the question, ‘How many bars do we want?’

“It is in everyone’s interests to professionalize and modernize the enforcement of liquor control in St. Charles,” Rogina said.  “We want people to enjoy St. Charles day or night, yet we also must ensure that unlawful behavior is not tolerated.”

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Elizabeth R January 30, 2013 at 09:45 PM
I hope council contiues to show patience. This took years to create and will take the Bar Association some time to fully get their efforts working. Their efforts (which some will work and some won't) along with Alderman Rogina's ideas seem to be a program that could work nicely together but again it will need time. But to think it will ever be perfect as Terry L points out it unrealistic.
David Amundson January 30, 2013 at 11:41 PM
Ted - When the reality includes stepping around puddles of vomit on morning walks with my dog, it truly has gotten out of hand. It is real, disgraceful, right there in front of me, and a fairly regular reminder of just how deep in the weeds we currently are. If you have the time and want to add to the public dialog, I would highly encourage you to go knocking on the doors of merchants on Main Street, particularly on the West side, where the Police mass for battle each weekend. Ask the merchants what they see as the pros and cons of the pub culture that we have, and if it helps or hurts them. That is a critical part of this discussion that has been pretty much absent thusfar. One of my big concerns is the effect that the whole drinking culture is having on the merchants that are not part of that scene. The few I've talked to about this topic across the past few years have given incredibly animated responses to those questions when asked.
Ted Schnell January 31, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Of course, on the other side of the coin is the bar/tavern concerns. They're feeling picked on, or so I'm told, and feeling threatened by the council attention on them. It seems to me that Chief Lamkin has been making an earnest effort with the association to find solutions, and on that end, the bar owners are cooperating -- at least for the most part. McNally's and The Office have refused to join the association. I have to wonder why. Their refusal potentially could impede the association's efforts to police itself -- and to enforce the "ban list" that is intended to keep the troublemakers out of the downtown bars. Of course that also could backfire, I suppose. I wonder how McNally's and The Office will react if all the troublemakers (there are about 20 on the "ban list" now) start flocking to to their establishments and creating problems for them. If that were to happen, it would seem to me that the City Council would have to look less favorably on those establishments because they are not trying to be a part of the solution. It will be interesting to see what kind of stats the SCPD will pull together on this -- that's may add clarity to the picture.
David Amundson February 02, 2013 at 06:51 AM
Ted - Pehaps McNally's and The Office do not want to hang signs on their front doors reminding their patrons that "Fighting is punishable by City fine?"
Elizabeth R February 02, 2013 at 08:07 PM
David, What I have heard is The Office and McNally's run very tight operations and are not part of this over serving or fighting issue. That is why they won't joint, they don't wish to be lumped in with those others. I may be wrong but I have heard that from several reliable people.

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