Social hosting stays at 100 points

Photo by Lukas Zeman via stock.xchng

At tonight’s Common Council meeting, the 100-point demerit point assessment for social hosting was approved by a vote of 14 to 2.  Alderpersons G. John Ruffolo and Steve Bostrom voted against, not because they’re against the social hosting ordinance having more points assessed, but because the 100 points was equal to that of a felony.  They thought it was “too harsh.”

Ruffolo said, “I’m in favor of increasing the points for social hosting, but to make it equal to a felony (in the demerit point system)?  Courts don’t look at it as a felony.  It seems severe.”  Bostrom agreed.  “The number of points should be significantly increased, but immediately disqualifying them?  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not against this.  I’m against the number of points being assessed at 100.  If someone would like to make an amendment to lower it to 80 points, I’d support that.”

Ruffolo pointed out that an 18-year-old can have a bartender license.  Bostrom pointed out that selling liquor to a minor is assessed at 20 points.  “I’d say raise it all.  To have different points for providing liquor to underage drinkers and for selling to underage drinkers is hypocritical.  That’s my only opposition.”

Mayor Keith Bosman asked if the wording was ‘up to 100 points.’  The answer was that it was not.  It was 100 points, period.

Alderperson Rocco LaMacchia was adamant that it stay at 100.  “It was put in place to protect our citizens, our kids.  We have the ability to put as many points as we want on it.  It’s not a death sentence.  This puts our kids at risk.  If a kid is on medication, and then drinks alcohol, the results can be disastrous.  I’m fighting to keep it at 100.”

Chairman Eric Haugaard pointed out the difference.  “A felony goes on for perpetuity.  The 100 demerit points fall off after five years.  The Common Council has the ability to assess 100 points at its discretion.”

Alderperson Jesse Downing reminded the council that the social hosting ordinance was passed last year.  “We didn’t think about the points at that time.  We can still grant a license.  The system is a tracking system.  If a person has 200 points, he/she can still get a license.  It’s up to the Licensing and Permit Committee’s discretion.  The Common Council can say yes, even if the committee says no.  It doesn’t mean that the person can’t have a license.”

Alderperson Scott Gordon also supported the 100 points.  “I have a big problem with it.  I have a teenage son.  We want to send a clear message that this city will not tolerate underage drinking parties any longer.”

Alderperson Patrick Juliana said that people looking for a license who sold to minors can come before us at revocation hearings.  “If we move off the 100 points, we are not sending a message.  We need to send a message.  Adults should be showing direction, focus, and responsibility.  Let’s just vote for it and move on.”

Alderperson Jan Michalski stated that he understood Ruffolo’s difficulty with this, but stated that he would support it as written.  “The Common Council has some discretion,” he said.  “Hosting a drinking party is not equal to selling to a minor.  The sale could be done inadvertently.  The purchaser could have presented a false ID, etc.  The host knows that he/she has underage drinkers under his/her roof.  They are making a poor choice.”

The vote was 14 to 2 to approve at the 100 demerit point assessment for social hosting.






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