Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bar War in Iowa City

Go Get `em Mike

City votes to deny liquor license to the Summit; Summit owner Mike Porter (the political deep pockets behind 2007's successful no campaign on the 21 bar issue) sues the city. At issue is the policy of basing license renewals on the rate of PAULA citations (that's Possession of Alcohol Under Legal Age for you non-Iowa Citians)

Read the full lawsuit at the Gazette. The gist is, says the PC:
The lawsuit states the resolution is illegal because, among other things, it:

  • Does not require a PAULA conviction, only a citation;

  • The city is intentionally targeting certain establishments; and

  • Punishes plaintiffs retroactively by considering PAULA citations before the resolution's adoption.

  • That's an ex post facto law, for you first year law students.

    It's great that Mike is taking on this fight now, even though it's self-interest. I wish we'd seen him get engaged in this year's city election, but the choices weren't especially credible. (I noticed BoJames owner and 2001 candidate Leah Cohen on Terry Dickens' donor list--is that an indicator of sorts?)

    The Register points out some ugly incidents tied to abusive drinking by young people, and that sort of stuff needs to stop. But we can't credibly address those until we have a credible attitude toward the drinking age. How many crimes have gone unreported because the victim is afraid of getting in trouble for "underage" (sic) drinking?

    If I were on the council, which I'm not or ever planing to be, I'd ask for those PAULA citations broken out: 17 and under minors vs. 18-20 ADULTS. Every time this comes up, I want to hear someone on the council saying "This is a bad law that should be changed."

    The council met a couple months back to discuss legislative priorities. Where was the drinking age? Nowhere.

    I'm not quite to the point of calling for the city to commit civic disobedience and stop enforcing this law; nullification is an ugly legal ground with an ugly history.

    What I am looking for is public statements, I'm looking for lobbying the legislature.

    I've helped a lot of city candidates in the past and overlooked differences on alcohol issues. I'm not going to do so in 2011. Freak Power on The Prairie candidates, call me.

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