Bartender’s license denied
At Monday’s Common Council, there was much discussion on the agenda item having to do with approving the application of Keith Boreman for a new operator’s (bartender) license, subject to 80 demerit points. The Licensing & Permit Committee had already approved the license before Monday by a vote of 4 to 1 (Alderperson Anthony Kennedy had been the sole dissenting voter at that time).
This applicant was a convicted felon, having committed wreckless homicide back in 1993. Alderperson Kevin Mathewson recommended denial due to public safety concerns. The chief of police, John Morrissey, also recommended denial of the application. Boreman has already been issued a bartender’s license by the town of Wheatland.
Jill Rzeplinski, owner of Jill’s Place, 1400 – 52nd Street, spoke on Boreman’s behalf. She is currently employing him at her Lily Lake Resort, in Burlington, and she plans on employing him at her Kenosha bar as well. She gave a passionate plea for him.
Kerry Raymond, owner of Sir Arthur’s Beer Gardens, also spoke in favor of the applicant. “I am a convicted felon. I also own a bar with my wife, and I have a bartender’s license. I am on the Board of Local 72, and I am the Vice President of the Tavern League. Give the guy a chance. Anyone Jill says is good, is good by me.”
Pamela Gibson also spoke up on behalf of the applicant. She stated that she thought that he was honest enough to put down items on his application that were not needed.
Kennedy said that he was changing his vote for him from his dissenting vote at the Licensing & Permit Committee meeting. He stated that he believes in second chances. “Who you are today is not who you were. There have been no alcohol-related incidents since, and that says a lot. Rzeplinski gave a passionate plea.”
Alderperson Eric Haugaard noted Morrissey’s statement, and said that he thought that granting the license was the wrong thing to do. He stated that he would not support it.
Alderperson G. John Ruffolo said that about four to six weeks ago, the Council denied an applicant a bartender license for having 20 demerit points and for social hosting an underage party. Ruffolo stated that Morrissey wants to be “tough on crime. That’s Morrissey’s professional opinion.”
Alderperson Patrick Juliana spoke up, too. “If the applicant had not been truthful, we wouldn’t be here discussing this. This felony occurred in Illinois. Aren’t felonies federal charges? Shouldn’t it have shown up nationwide? How many of you have driven a car, or know someone who has driven a car, after having had a few? How many of you text, or know someone who texts, while driving a car? It’s legal for him to have a license in Wheatland. I’m voting for him. Traffic tickets in Illinois show, but felonies don’t? Vote based on what’s in front of you. Grant him a license on a short leash.”
Alderperson David Bogdala wanted Morrissey to substantiate his comments. Morrissey said that felonies are part of a person’s criminal history. They do not run criminal histories for out-of-state. They don’t show on records checks that we do locally.
Alderperson Daniel Prozanski asked the chief, “What part of your expertise did you call upon to deny this application?” Morrissey’s reply was, “We need to take a stronger approach to all licenses. This was a significant case that involved alcohol. It was a felony. The offense was considered. We should not be granting him a license. It’s just inappropriate to be issuing him a license.” Prozanski thanked the chief. “That was what I was looking for,” he said.
Alderperson Michael Orth said that this is the direction the Common Council can take. “The Kenosha Police Department offers an opinion on licensing matters. You can follow that opinion, or turn your back on it. Use your discretion and decide what you feel is appropriate. You have to answer for that back to your own constituents.”
The motion was to deny. An aye vote meant you were voting to deny. The vote was 10 to 6 to deny. Those voting no (meaning that they wanted to issue Boreman the license) were Alderperson Chris Schwartz, Jan Michalski, Patrick Juliana, Anthony Kennedy, Scott Gordon, and Curt Wilson.
At the end of the meeting, during the Alderperson’s Comments portion of the meeting, Kennedy said that he was swayed by Raymond’s argument. “Conflicting advice is always difficult. I didn’t go with the police chief’s recommendation. I had compassion on the guy. I am the guy that gives second chances. I think he was put on a short leash.”
Schwartz said that she felt that “the Council messed with peoples’ lives tonight, and I hope that both Rzeplinski and Boreman could move forward from this, and I wish them luck.”
Orth said that there were some hard votes taken tonight. “We all try to do what’s right. Sometimes, we’re proven wrong. Sometimes, we get added information. It’s not a perfect system. We make our assessments and vote with our consciences. Sometimes, we make mistakes. It’s part of this job.”