Lance Jack Revisited Part 1: Local Law
In last week’s post about Lance Jack’s resignation from the city council, I promised to do some more research and write a follow up. I’ve spent some time wading through state and local liquor laws and I have some additional information to report.
It is going to take a lot of space to cover this, so I am going to split this into multiple posts. This is part one, in which I look at local law.
Before we get into the law, let’s start with a quote from city councilman and mayoral candidate Joel Fritzler in the original Southern Illinoisan article about the Fat Patties liquor license and Jack’s resignation:
“My feeling before was, if I were to vote for it, I would be an accessory to violating state and local law,” Fritzler said.
This is somewhat complicated, so I’ll go through it step by step. First, Carbondale is unique among Illinois cities in that all members of the city council are also members of the local liquor control commission. In comparable cities, the mayor is the sole liquor commissioner.
A few years ago Brad Cole and Lance Jack tried to amend the local liquor ordinance to bring it in line with state law, but the angry reaction of some townspeople resulted in the measure being withdrawn. If the change had passed, the entire Fat Patties liquor license controversy could have been avoided.
The change did not pass, however, so Jack was a member of both the city council and the liquor control commission when he applied for his liquor license for Fat Patties. Both the city code and state law address this situation.
I’ll start with local law. You can read this for yourself in Title 2, Chapter 4, 2-4-4 of the city code (navigation on the left). Ordinance 2-4-4 is titled “Persons Ineligible to Hold License” and says licenses cannot be issued to:
Any law enforcing public official, mayor or any member of the city council; and no such official shall be interested, in any way, either directly or indirectly, in the manufacture, sale, or distribution of alcoholic liquor, except that a license may be granted to a member of the city council (excluding the mayor) in relation to a premises or to an establishment in which the council member has a direct or indirect interest if:
1. The sale of alcoholic liquor pursuant to the license is incidental to the selling of food (class A license only);
2. The issuance of the license is approved by the Illinois liquor control commission;
3. The issuance of the license is in accordance with all applicable ordinances of this code; and
4. The official granted the license does not vote on alcoholic liquor issues pending before the local liquor control commission or the city council.
So a member of the city council is eligible to hold a liquor license if it is a restaurant license, and the state liquor commission approves the license, and issuing the license wouldn’t violate any other part of the code, and if the council member abstains from any votes related to liquor.
The Fat Patties liquor license is a restaurant license, the state liquor commission told the council it was wrong to deny Jack the license, a liquor license for Fat Patties doesn’t violate any section of the code (as far as I can tell), and Jack promised to abstain from voting on alcohol issues. I can’t see any violation of local law.