Lance Jack Revisited Part 3: Mary Pohlmann’s Comments
Last week I wrote a post about Lance Jack’s resignation from city council and I promised to follow up. This morning I wrote one post looking at local liquor law, and a second post looking at state liquor law. This is part 3, in which I am critical of Mary Pohlmann’s remarks about Lance Jack in May of 2009.
Last year, when Fat Patties was denied a liquor license for the second time the Southern Illinoisan ran an article about the denial. It contained a couple of paragraphs about Mary Pohlman’s remarks that I’d like to quote and comment on:
Tuesday’s votes came after Pohlmann criticized the legal standing of Jack’s appeal and his competence to hold a license.
The state, Pohlmann said, used language that applied to the Illinois’ other communities, each of which leaves the granting of liquor licenses to the mayor and not a full commission, she said.
Citing Jack’s conviction of DUI in 1994 and “other behavior” she said she’s observed, Pohlmann said she was concerned that Jack was “not of good character and reputation in the community in which he resides.”
I assume most Carbondale residents are aware of Lance Jack’s past legal issues, and some might praise Pohlmann for her candor. I cannot join in that praise. By the time Pohlmann made those remarks, the charges against Jack had been dismissed. Despite his legal problems, it was not right to publicly impugn his character.
The voters of Carbondale made judgments about Lance Jack’s character and reputation when they twice elected him to city council. It’s true that he hadn’t stood for reelection since his arrest, but it’s also true that there was no public cry for his resignation after the arrest.
The charge of drunk driving was serious, and if it was true I would consider it a reasonable justification for denying a liquor license. But the charges were dismissed, so we will never know if Jack was really drunk that night. The pot charges are less serious. Our culture has moved ahead of our laws on that subject.
Pohlmann cited a different reason when she voted against the Fat Patties liquor license the third time. That time, she justified her vote against Fat Patties by arguing that Jack had a responsibility to serve as a liquor control commissioner and should not be allowed to recuse himself. That’s an odd position, but a fair one. She should have relied on those grounds rather than calling Jack’s character into question.
After Jack resigned, Pohlmann suddenly changed her mind and voted in favor of the license. Clearly her concern wasn’t with Jack holding a liquor license. It was with Jack holding a seat on the city council. It is up to voters to decide who should serve in elected office and I do not like seeing one public official drive another out of office.
Carbondale is a small town and it cannot afford rancor and division among its business and political leadership. Until he was driven out of office, Lance Jack was both.
I voted for Mary Pohlmann in 2007 because I supported the no smoking ordinance, which was her main campaign issue. I have agreed with many of her votes during her term on city council. I would vote for her again if she were running next year. But I think she was wrong to publicly impugn Lance Jack’s character.