In suspending The Back Bar’s liquor license last month, the city Alcohol License Advisory Committee showed it’s not afraid to hold bars accountable.
The committee took complaints about the bar seriously, and it has a supportive partner in Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore.
The committee considered revoking the bar’s license based on Moore’s recommendation regarding a shots fired incident Nov. 23. Moore and the committee exercised discretion, settling on a one-month suspension and giving the bar’s owner a chance to improve his operation.
The process worked.
We’re pleased, too, the committee tabled at its Feb. 4 meeting a proposal to switch to a demerit point system to handle future complaints.
Under this proposal, the committee would have assigned points to problems cited at bars or stores that sell liquor and then decided whether to revoke or suspend a license based on the number of points an establishment accumulated.
We’re filing this idea away in our if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it folder.
A demerit point system would take away the committee’s flexibility and might have prevented the committee from suspending The Back Bar’s license, depending on how the committee would have assigned demerit points for the Nov. 23 incident.
The committee has studied a demerit point system used in Appleton, and perhaps officials there prefer the structure. But as we see it, a demerit point system would only complicate decisions. It shouldn’t take a point system to determine that somebody firing a gun at a bar demands an investigation and possible committee action.
From what we know about The Back Bar incident, the committee and Moore demonstrated solid judgment. They did nothing wrong to call for scrapping the current system.
When a bar puts public safety at risk as The Back Bar did, prompting a police chief’s recommendation to revoke or suspend its liquor license, that’s all the committee should need. The police chief’s word is as credible as anything a demerit point system could determine.
Unless the committee demonstrates it cannot be trusted to protect the community from rogue operators, there’s no reason to change a process that, at least in The Back Bar incident, appears to be working just fine.