Janesville43°

Whitewater reverses field on drinks

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Kayla Bunge
May 26, 2010
— Marilyn Kienbaum believes the city must do something to curb excessive drinking.

She just doesn't think it should be by telling bars and restaurants what kind of drink specials they are allowed to offer patrons.


The Whitewater City Council last week voted 3-4 not to ban all-you-can-drink specials at licensed establishments. The council just two weeks earlier voted 4-3 to ban such specials.


Kienbaum was the only council member to change her vote.


She said the first time she voted the way she felt she should. The second time, she voted the way her constituents asked her to vote.


"It doesn't matter how I feel personally. I'm supposed to be representing these people," she said.


The city council considered the ban after some downtown bar owners expressed concerns about all-you-can-drink specials.


Dave Bergman, owner of the Brass Rail, 130 W. Main St., previously told the Gazette bars that offer such specials are being irresponsible and putting the community at risk.


"We're supposed to be responsible servers," he said. "But when you have $5 all-you-can-drink, and people get so intoxicated and possibly go out and kill themselves or somebody else (in an accident), that's not responsible. I don't believe in that."


Council member Lynn Binnie previously told the Gazette such specials are a public safety hazard.


"There's clear evidence that shows that all-you-can-drink specials and similar promotions tend to lead to overindulgence in alcohol, and that can result in public safety issues such as injuries and deaths from drunken driving and other crimes," she said.


Council member Max Taylor, who is graduating from UW-Whitewater this month and whose district is comprised almost entirely of fellow students, previously told the Gazette the new rules unfairly target the college crowd.


"Most of these specials don't start until later at night," he said. "Students are the ones who go to the bars for these specials. The after-work crowd isn't going out for them."


Taylor also told the Gazette the ban doesn't solve the problem of binge drinking.


"Bars still can have their lower prices on drinks, and students probably will go to the liquor store and stock up for a house party to drink on the cheap," he said. "I really don't think it's going to slow down drinking."


The city council last week decided to revisit the issue in the fall and discuss ways to discourage excessive drinking.


Kienbaum said education and outreach to high school and college students might be the most effective means of addressing the problem.



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