Janesville City Council votes down beer during league games

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012
— The Janesville City Council on Monday denied beer sales at Dawson Ball Fields during adult league softball play, but approved the sale of beer and wine coolers during tournaments there.

In addition, the council OK’d the sale of liquor at the Janesville Senior Center during events in which the center is rented out.

City recreation staff had recommended the changes because of requests from the public and because of the opportunity for additional revenue.

Shelley Slapak, acting recreation director, said Monday it has been difficult to rent out the senior center because of the ban on alcohol.

After Monday’s approval, liquor sales at the center will require a licensed bartender and a permit. The permit could cost about $25, Slapak said, and building rental for four hours is about $200.

Councilman Yuri Rashkin said the proposal makes common sense, but he worried the competition could hurt local business. Still, the council has an obligation to taxpayers to make the most of city assets, he said.

The council voted down a proposal to serve beer during adult softball league play at Dawson Ball Fields. It did, however, approve beer and wine coolers at tournaments.

Slapak said the majority of managers in the adult softball league wanted beer served during games. Some bar owners who sponsor teams, however, did not because they want players to drink in their establishments.

Councilman Russ Steeber said the city first should offer beer at tournaments to see how smoothly that works and if it brings revenue into the city.

Councilman Tom McDonald said he could “live with” drinking during tournaments, but allowing beer sales during adult games would “feed the culture, continue the culture of alcoholism we have here in Wisconsin.”

Council members Kathy Voskuil and Sam Liebert voted against the proposal, while Deb Dongarra-Adams, Rashkin, Steeber and McDonald vote in favor.

Liebert spoke earlier in the meeting at length about the dangers of Wisconsin’s culture of alcohol, and he noted people would be drinking and driving from tournaments because they would have to get there somehow.

Rashkin supported the limited version of the ordinance, saying the city could start small with tournaments and go from there.

Other business

The Janesville City Council on Monday:

Set sale hours for beer and liquor at Janesville liquor stores from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The ordinance does not mirror state law, which allows sales to begin at 6 a.m. According to state law, liquor could be sold until 9 p.m. and beer until midnight.

Police Chief Dave Moore said his department preferred that the sales of all alcohol ended at the same time.

The vote was 4-2, with Russ Steeber, Tom McDonald, Kathy Voskuil and Deb Dongarra-Adams voting “yes” and Sam Liebert and Yuri Rashkin voting “no.”

Steeber and McDonald said they voted as they did so Janesville businesses would not be at a disadvantage to stores in other cities.

Liebert noted Wisconsin’s issues with drinking, including binge drinking and drunken driving, to support his “no” vote for expanding hours. Rashkin said it was important to note the change was not driven by a public outcry but was “brought to us by Madison.”

Republicans control majorities in both the senate and assembly in Madison. Rashkin is running for assembly as a Democrat.

Last updated: 7:57 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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