Four days before it was scheduled to go to trial with Whitewater’s Alcohol Licensing Review Committee, Pumpers & Mitchell’s has a potential deal in place with the city to have its liquor license renewed for the next year but serve a two-month suspension in the fall.
The Whitewater Police Department asked the city to deny the bar’s request for a license renewal, but attorneys for all sides reached a settlement that includes a license suspension from Sept. 1 through and including Nov. 2—the start and middle of UW-Whitewater’s fall semester.
“I think I feel it is certainly warranted,” said James Allen, one of the committee’s three members. “I think a two-month suspension is probably light. But it’s going to take two months of business during the school year in hopes that it will get the owner’s attention.
“We’re not playing around here,” he continued. “These are laws that have to be followed.”
Last week, the committee recommended against renewing the bar’s license for the next year, though members said they made that preliminary finding so they could hear more arguments at a trial.
But the committee voted Thursday to recommend that the city council adopt the proposed settlement, which spares both sides from spending several hours presenting evidence to the committee at a trial that had been scheduled for Monday.
Ultimately, the city council will still have its vote on whether to accept the settlement and renew the bar’s Class B liquor license, which would take effect July 1. It appears likely the council will vote in favor because the licensing committee’s three members who voted in support of the settlement Thursday are city council members.
The police department filed a complaint May 1 citing 70 incidents over the last year that were to varying degrees related to the bar. The reported incidents included having underage people in the bar, sexual assaults, fights, drug dealing and disorderly conduct.
Officials representing Pumpers & Mitchell’s strongly denied most of the wrongdoing of which they were accused, pointing to some of the incidents that bar officials say they could not reasonably have been responsible for, such as someone urinating in front of a UW-W building.
The settlement agreement lists other conditions beyond the suspension:
- Mount digital cameras to cover the bar and store footage on-site that can be made available to the police department no more than a week after a request is made.
- Comply with responsible practices for selling alcohol, including statutory requirements for selling to intoxicated people.
- Implement written training for the responsible sale of alcohol, including how to use ID scanners and determine if someone is underage.
- Perform background checks for any potential bartender and member of security.
- Require anyone who looks like they are younger than 30 to show an ID, use the bar’s latest ID scanning system and keep records of scanned IDs for 30 days in case police request information.
- Give the police department power to close the bar if it is over capacity.
Police Chief Aaron Raap reiterated a point he made at a previous committee meeting in saying he did not want to take such an action against any business. But he thought something needed to be done.
The committee’s other members, Carol McCormick and Gregory Majkrzak, both said they agreed with Allen’s comments.
McCormick added that this action shows other businesses in the city that they are paying attention and want everyone to “play fair.”
The full city council will likely take up the matter at its next meeting, scheduled now for Tuesday,June 1.