The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

Fat Patties License Not Renewed, Liquor Law Changes Stalled

with 6 comments

The Carbondale city council, acting as the liquor control commission, deadlocked 3-3 on a motion to renew council member Lance Jack’s liquor license for his Fat Patties restaurant. Council members and liquor commissioners Jane Adams, Corene McDaniel, and Chris Wissmann voted to approve the license, while Lee Fronabarger, Don Monty, and Joel Fritzler voted against the license.

I expected Joel Fritzler to vote against the license, but I was stunned when both Lee Fronabarger and Don Monty opposed it. Monty offered the possibility that the council could consider a set of changes to city code that might secure his vote. Lee Fronabarger offered no explanation for his vote.

I’m really tired of this issue. Joel Fritzler’s objections are without merit, as I’ve written here and here. A reader commenting as Concerned Observer argued back in May that our entire liquor ordinance is at odds with state law. I couldn’t figure out exactly what Don Monty was objecting to. When he finished his comments I expected him to vote for the license.

Lee Fronabarger’s vote shocked me more than anyone’s. Fronabarger’s appointment was controversial and without democratic legitimacy. I expected that he would follow the will of the voters, who chose to return Lance Jack to the council even knowing that he held a liquor license for Fat Patties. I couldn’t guess what motivated him to vote against the Fat Patties license, but I shouldn’t have to guess. Fronabarger should have told the public during council comments why he decided to vote against the license.

I think Jack will eventually get his license. I don’t think the council has any legitimate reason to deny it and I expect justice to prevail over the petty politics around this issue. I do think this vote has the potential to poison the personal relationships among the council members for the next two or even four years. It was a foolish vote and the council’s best option is to reverse themselves at the next meeting.

After adjourning as the liquor control commission, the council reconvened as the city council, this time with Lance Jack in attendance. The only big piece of business on the agenda was item 5.2 (pdf), which would have radically revised Carbondale’s liquor laws. The ordinance would have allowed liquor sales at grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores, and it would have made all of Carbondale “wet” (currently the area south of Pleasant Hill Rd. is “dry”).

Lee Fronabarger, who opposed the Fat Patties liquor license, made the motion to approve this ordinance. The motion died for lack of a second. Aside from Fritzler and Fronabarger, no council member was willing to even discuss the ordinance.

During council comments, the council members explained their vote. It’s basically a process issue. The Liquor Advisory Board hadn’t seen the ordinance, and there were several changes being considered. It wasn’t clear that all the consequences of the changes had been considered, so the council refused to act. The issue will be back in a future meeting – maybe as soon as July.

This has to be seen as a rebuke to Fritzler, who supported the ordinance. People in Carbondale are sticklers for process. Early in former mayor Brad Cole’s first term, the council refused to approve his road resurfacing ordinance because the planning commission hadn’t considered it. The ordinance went back to the planning commission, and the council subsequently approved it.

The council taught Fritzler the same lesson Cole learned – in Carbondale it’s often quicker to take things slowly. People who support the substance of your proposal will vote against it if there is a board or commission that should have considered it but wasn’t granted the opportunity.

Fortunately, a majority of council members support at least some of these changes. Sooner or later, beer and wine will be available in grocery stores. It might be available in gas stations, drug stores, and south of Pleasant Hill Road. The exact specifics aren’t clear, but our liquor laws will change.

I might have more to say on this in the future.

Comments are welcome.


6 Responses

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  1. […] gets accomplished and the “business” that takes place is petty and unproductive.  The Carbondale Observer gives an insightful summary of the meeting. So read their article please and thank […]

  2. I think it is great that Joel voted against Lance. That is the reality of doing business in a small town. Make your friends and enemies carefully. 🙂


    June 23, 2011 at 11:22 am

    • That may be the reality, but I don’t think it SHOULD be the reality. I expect public servants to put aside their private prejudices and do what is in the public’s best interest. For all his problems, Lance Jack has been a much greater asset to Carbondale, on and off the council, than Joel Fritzler has been.

      I’m hoping this gets reversed on an appeal or that changes to the code will win Monty’s vote.

      The Carbondale Observer

      June 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm

  3. “I couldn’t figure out exactly what Don Monty was objecting to.” I understand if you couldn’t figure it out . . . but what *did* he say? What did Fronanberger say? I don’t really feel that informed about what went on at the meeting.


    June 23, 2011 at 11:31 am

    • Sorry you didn’t feel informed. I’ll just remind you that I mostly do commentary, not “straight news” reporting.

      When I watch the council meetings I listen to the council member’s comments and take notes on anything that seems important, or that seems to indicate which way they’ll vote. I didn’t have detailed notes for Monty because he didn’t say anything that struck me as particularly telling. The city does post audio recordings of the meetings on their site, so I’ll check there once the recordings are posted.

      As for Fronabarger, I mentioned in the post that he offered no explanation for his vote. Zip. Nada. I felt he owed the public a little more. He’s new to the council, so I’m willing to give him a pass this time, but I expect my representatives to explain their reasoning when they take unpopular actions. If I, as a private citizen, can write fairly detailed blog posts explaining the reasons I support this or oppose that, then surely a public servant can offer a few words of explanation for an unpopular vote.

      Thanks for the comment! I hope you’ll keep reading.

      The Carbondale Observer

      June 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm

  4. […] a comment » I wrote a post earlier this week about the liquor controversy at the June 21 city council meeting, and I wanted to […]

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