Roseville City Council deals out new alcohol punishments
George Fairbanks, Roseville Review News Editor
July 18, 2006

The Roseville City Council voted at its July 10 meeting to impose the mandatory minimum punishment on three businesses that violated the city's alcohol ordinance last summer.

Mayor Craig Klausing and Council Members Amy Ihlan and Tom Kough all voted to impose a one-day liquor license suspension on the Green Mill. Council Members Tammy Pust and Dean Maschka dissented.

Klausing, Ihlan and Kough voted to also impose the one-day suspension on Old Chicago, with Pust and Maschka voting no. 

Klausing, Ihlan and Maschka voted to impose the one-day suspension on VFW Post No. 7555, with Pust and Kough voting no. 

Though the Maple Grove city attorney cleared Roseville City Manager Neal Beets of criminal misconduct for the way he doled out punishment earlier to the three Roseville businesses for selling alcohol to minors, the Roseville City Council chose to take up the issue again at the July 10 meeting.

Teenager served liquor

On Aug. 12, 2005, the Green Mill, Old Chicago and VFW Post No. 7555 failed a random alcohol compliance check conducted by an undercover Roseville police officer and a 17-year-old decoy. 

Ultimately, Beets ordered the Green Mill and Old Chicago to pay a $500 fine and make a $500 charitable contribution. He ordered the VFW to pay the $500 fine but not make the $500 donation to charity.

In an interview Beets explained his decision not to order Post No. 7555 to make a charitable donation was based on two factors. The first, that the business has limited profits with regard to alcohol sales; and second, there were extenuating circumstances, which were discussed at the July 10 meeting. 

Roseville's liquor ordinance dictates a $500 fine and a one-day liquor license suspension.

Former Roseville mayor John Kysylyczyn filed a criminal complaint against Beets in January of this year, accusing him of exceeding his authority. 

Beets was then cleared by the Maple Grove city attorney in March.

A look back

At the July 10 meeting, VFW Post No. 7555 was represented by Post Commander Glenn Fadden, Old Chicago was represented by Doug Christman, who is legal counsel for Rock Bottom Restaurants, Inc., Old Chicago's parent company. The Green Mill did not have a representative at the meeting. 

While she advocated strongly for enforcing the code as written, Ihlan also wanted the $500 charitable donation returned to the Green Mill and Old Chicago, a measure that was approved in the votes pertaining to the Green Mill and Old Chicago. 

"I don't see a reason to deviate upward," Ihlan explained. 

According to the Roseville Police Department incident report of Aug. 12, 2005, an undercover Roseville officer and a teenage decoy entered Old Chicago and ordered beer and were then served the beverages. The officer then informed the server she had served to a minor and issued a citation. The officer also spoke to the Old Chicago's manager.

Another incident report explains that on the same day, the officer and decoy entered the Green Mill and ordered beer, which they were both served. The officer again ticketed the server and spoke with the manager.

Finally, the officer and decoy entered VFW Post No. 7555 and each ordered a beer and were served the drinks. However, the case with the VFW included a twist the other two did not. 

In the incident report, the officer stated the server recognized the officer as a member of the Roseville Police Department and assumed an officer would not bring an underage person into the bar to drink and, therefore, did not check either person's identification. 

The server was issued a citation.

At the July 10 City Council meeting, Fadden admitted the incident occurred but expressed his opinion the process would have been better if the Roseville Police Department had used an officer unknown to the VFW's staff. He added Post No. 7555 often caters events at the Guidant John Rose Minnesota Oval and that's how the server became acquainted with the officer. 

Kough, in particular, was sympathetic to the VFW's plight.

"There might have been a little trust there," Kough said.

"By talking to her that's how she was feeling on the situation," Fadden replied.

Penalized twice

In a telephone interview July 13, Christman said he was surprised the issue was reopened after Beets' initial decision. 

"It's very atypical for you to resolve a matter, (and then) only about a year later, to have it reopened," Christman said.

Though the situation, Christman noted, is not technically double-jeopardy because it involved a city ordinance, he admitted, "it does seem like double-jeopardy."

He also noted Old Chicago, as part of its required $500 charitable donation, contributed $500 worth of food to a charity organization. However, Christman added, that amount did not include the labor costs involved in preparing the food and delivering it.

"You're talking well in excess of $500," he said.

In the end, Christman, who flew in from Colorado for the July 10 meeting, is puzzled by the situation.

"It's curious to me they didn't ratify the city manager's decision. It's mind-boggling to me, to be honest," Christman said.

Christman also noted the company has made no decision as to a possible appeal of the City Council's belated penalties.

The decision as to what day each establishment must shutdown its liquor sales is left to Roseville Police Chief Carol Sletner. 

In an interview July 14, Ihlan said she was pleased a majority of the council members voted to enforce the entire ordinance.

"I think that was the right thing to do," Ihlan said.

She added it was important for the council to take on a serious issue. "I think we've got to enforce the laws we have in place."
Content 2006 Lillie Suburban Newspapers