Our Views: Turning out lights on a troubled downtown tavern

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Friday, November 15, 2013

The final blow at Quotes Bar & Grill was a bad one. We're talking about a recent—and we hope last—altercation at the troubled tavern in downtown Janesville.

Security video available on our website shows a grisly encounter. A woman tosses a drink at a male patron. He turns and fires a bar glass that shatters on the side of her head, shards tearing into the face of a female bystander.

It's fortunate the fight wasn't fatal. It was, however, fatal to Quotes. And that is fortunate.

This has gone on far too long. Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore was patient with owner Denise Carpenter and her bar's problems. Since Carpenter opened at 24 N. Main St. in 2004, Moore tried to balance public safety against the rights of a business owner trying to make a dollar. But after years of problems, many residents would argue Moore was too patient.

Police invested thousands of dollars worth of time—taxpayer money—trying to make Quotes safe. Carpenter promised changes. Police thought they had a spirit of cooperation, but then came reports of security video erased to hide a fight and of selling after hours. Trust vanished. Carpenter has been called repeatedly before the city's liquor license advisory committee and threatened with license revocation.

Last year, Moore reported Quotes was responsible for 30 percent of the time his officers spent responding to violence at the city's 43 bars. On Dec. 7, Carpenter finished a months-long sanction in which she agreed to close early as an alternative to a revocation hearing. Soon after, troubles returned. This year, Moore again asked Carpenter to close early to halt a revocation process. She ignored his request.

A liquor license comes with responsibilities and expectations. Carpenter and Quotes failed to meet these, and miserably so.

Despite police efforts, Moore says the bar harbors a “culture of violence.” After seeing the video of the October altercation, his patience ran out and he demanded a revocation hearing.

Carpenter is trying to sell the business, and as The Gazette reported Thursday, she signed a deal to give up her license Dec. 1. It's good that her agreement saves the city the time and money of a revocation hearing.

Moore vowed to maintain even more police presence in the area until Quotes closes. We hope that helps prevent more mayhem and that the closing improves the perception of safety downtown. Other bars and businesses neither need nor deserve the negative publicity.

Why anyone who watches the video would still patronize Quotes is beyond comprehension. Still, patrons likely will pour in, and some will drink too much.

Once Quotes is gone, we hope the people who exhibit this sort of anger, stupidity and intoxication stay home or leave town rather than wandering over to the next unprepared tavern.

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