Licensing & Permit Committee approved 100 point demerit for social hosting

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At tonight’s Licensing & Permit Committee meeting, the committee unanimously voted to approve the ordinance change proposed by Alderperson Jesse Downing, and co-sponsored by Alderperson Michael Orth, to revise the demerit points assessed for Chapter X violations of the Kenosha Code of General Ordinances.  This chapter has to do with alcoholic beverages.

Chairman Jesse Downing explained that, when the social hosting ordinance was enacted in April, 2011, it was not added to the list of demerit point violations to be issued when contemplating licenses.  The issue came up recently due to a recent application for a bartender’s license where the applicant had been charged with social hosting.  Downing further explained that the committee felt that there is a definite difference between social hosting, which is intentional provision of alcohol to underage persons, and selling liquor to a minor, which may or may not be intentional.  The seller could have been given a false identification card, etc.  The committee wanted to make note of the difference.  Selling to a minor is listed with a 20-demerit point penalty.

The subsections in question are offenses against good order and conduct.  The violation of social hosting is being added to the violations which will be assessed 100 demerit points.  Once a person has accumulated 100 demerit points, he/she is required to appear before the committee for a revocation hearing.  Other violations which are currently assessed 100 points include:

“a.  Violation on a licensed premises of any municipal, State, or Federal law prohibiting the possession, attempted possession, trafficking in, delivery, attempted delivery, or possession with intent to deliver any controlled substance or marijuana, or knowingly permitting any person to commit such violation.

b. A conviction for a violation of State or Federal criminal law which is a felony, if the circumstances of the charge substantially relate to the circumstances of the licensed activity.

c. Non-compliance with a Court ordered alcohol and drug assessment and driver safety plan.

d. Violation of an order of the Common Council.”

Alderpersons Curt Wilson, Patrick Juliana, and Chris Schwartz requested that the deputy city attorney, Matt Knight, add them as co-sponsors to the proposed ordinance change.  Alderperson Anthony Kennedy stated that he would support the ordinance change, but that he did not want to be listed as a co-sponsor.

The first reading of this proposed ordinance change will be heard at the next Common Council meeting, which will take place on Monday, June 18th, 2012, at 7:00 pm.

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The committee also discussed the demerit point system in general regarding bartender and liquor licenses.  Downing said the issue here was the doubling of demerit points when an applicant has two or more violations on the same date.  He stated that he believes the third violation is being abused.  He mentioned an example of a person who was bad one day in their life who had three charges issued against them on the same date.  This gives them 80 demerit points toward their license application.  He stated that “he doesn’t want to penalize people.  Maybe they were in court, and they didn’t know how to ask for their additional charges to be reduced, or dismissed.”

Specifically, the language currently reads:

“In determining the accumulated demerit points against a license, the demerit points for any violation occurring on a third date within 365 consecutive days of a prior violation shall be assigned double the point assessment listed above. Once assigned, points shall not be reduced.”

Juliana said that he’s had discussions with Knight about addressing minor issues.  “Before, I wouldn’t grant an applicant a license if he/she had accumulated 75 demerit points or more.  I felt it was too short of a leash for the person to be on.”

Kennedy stated that he felt that this needs to be a constant review process.
“It’s a work in progress.  We are improving, and this is a good thing.”  He also wants to include the Tavern League and listen to their recommendations, too.  He stated that he feels a little bit differently than Juliana, though, in that even if a person is issued 95 demerit points, they are being “given a second opportunity, which comes with great responsibility.  The person needs to show their own personal responsibility.”

Downing asked that the committee meet after one of their future shorter committee meetings to have a working session to further discuss these issues.  The date decided upon was July 30th.

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