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Archive for Monday, January 9, 2006

Bar’s lawyer says state regulators have changed the rules

The Hawk faces allegations of liquor violations

January 9, 2006

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When management and lawyers for The Hawk, 1340 Ohio, received notice that the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control division was investigating several liquor violation allegations, they thought a state agreement would somewhat shield them.

After all, the bar contends, the state said it wouldn't consider violations more than four years old when investigating new cases of minors possessing alcohol in bars.

Now, according to The Hawk's attorneys and others involved in the Kansas alcohol industry, the state violated its own agreement when investigating The Hawk, using old violations in its quest to revoke the liquor license of the popular bar near Kansas University.

The agreement, a penalty schedule the ABC created, stated liquor violations would be graded on a scale and any violations previous to the grid's existence wouldn't be used when considering new cases.

The grid was established in 2000.

"We applied the grid moving forward," former ABC enforcement director Dean Reynoldson said.

But in the state's brief recommending the bar lose its license, submitted by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division in mid-December, Assistant Atty. Gen. Bradley Burke cited cases dating from 1999 and 2000 that according to the agreement shouldn't have applied to the case.

"In light of the history of repeated violations ... it is easy to conclude that this licensee views ABC fines as merely the cost of doing business," Burke wrote.

Since 1999, The Hawk has been fined more than $13,000, according to the brief.

'Discarded promises'

Dan Owen, attorney for The Hawk, said the state's case shouldn't hold up, considering the agreement and the "extraordinary effort" the bar makes to deter minors from drinking there.

"The state had an explicit agreement with The Hawk and other bar owners across the state," Owen said. "Unfortunately, the current enforcement division discarded those promises."

But Reynoldson and current ABC Director Thomas Groneman said the grid was simply a guideline for enforcement and that attorneys were not required to follow it.

Burke, who has led the state's case against the bar, said he thought the four-year limit would be an issue during litigation. But he would not comment further on the case.

According to a copy of the state's penalty schedule for underage drinking violations, after nine violations it can fine owners $1,000 and revoke their liquor license for each new violation.

But according to a letter the state sent Owen last October, the state no longer uses the penalty schedule, calling the document "inactive."

No deal for use

Reynoldson said although the ABC promoted the schedule when it was initiated, there was never a deal with liquor retailers outlining its use.

"The grid was an internal policy. It was set up like a guideline," Reynoldson said.

After a change in enforcement personnel at the ABC, the schedule was taken out of service, Groneman said.

"That penalty grid is no longer used," he said.

Groneman said he wasn't sure what system the attorney general would use when asking for penalties for alleged violations. As the ABC's hearing officer, Groneman said his duties are restricted to hearing the state's recommendations and the vendor's arguments before deciding what action to take.

No statewide regulations

Currently, there are no statewide regulations for enforcing liquor violations, something alcohol industry attorneys and leaders have asked for.

Past settlements between The Hawk and the ABC show some state leniency in setting fines and other penalties for minors found drinking in the bar.

Since 1999, The Hawk has been officially charged with nine violations, records show.

Between 1999 and 2003, the state dismissed 20 violations against the bar, agreeing that the bar would plead no contest for the other nine, resulting in the fines and suspension, records show.

Still, Owen said, of the bar's nine violations on the record, those previous to the penalty schedule's existence shouldn't be included in the complaint, according to the agreement.

Owen said he will turn in the bar's brief regarding the alleged violations on Jan. 19. After that, Groneman will decide The Hawk's punishment, which is subject to appeal.

Comments

moron 8 years, 11 months ago

considering the agreement and the "extraordinary effort" the bar makes to deter minors from drinking there.

Here's the effort:

Q.) Are you old enough to drink? A.) um, I think so.

Q.) Can you drink? A.) um, I think so.

Okay, you passs.

Thanks.

Moron.

neopolss 8 years, 11 months ago

It would be easier to simply lower the age back to eighteen. Old enough to be an adult, old enough to drink. This is nothing more than a waste of tax dollars.

mssking1 8 years, 11 months ago

old enough to be in IRAQ old enough to drink

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 11 months ago

Given the military's difficulty in finding new recruits, being able to ply them with alcohol might make the job easier.

badger 8 years, 11 months ago

bozo-

Worked for the British Navy, right?

"Here, have a rum drink or nine...(time passes)...Welcome to the HMS Impressment!"

Personally, I don't know that we need a legally standardized drinking age without exceptions. I think that the 'keep it away from them until they're 21, then encourage a huge binge on their 21st birthday, then have absolutely no guidance or education about how to drink responsibly' approach leads to irresponsible attitudes about alcohol, and that's the current social structure.

By the time someone is old enough to drink, he's old enough that no one really has the responsibility or right to teach him to do so in a reasonable, intelligent fashion. He's just thrown out there with whatever education he might have received in childhood fighting with the realization that he's out of his parents' supervision, surrounded by thousands of people, and able to do 'just as he pleases' without anyone telling him he can't spend every night drunk for two weeks if he wants to.

I think that allowing (as some states do) children to drink if they are accompanied by a parent is much more sensible, because it allows parents to expose their children to responsible alcohol consumption, as mine did for me. It allows parents to supervise those initial experiences, and demonstrate moderate consumption. When beer is all special and forbidden, instead of just being something you pour out a glass of with dinner, it becomes an act of rebellion - and we all know how appealing rebellion on principle is to people of a certain age demographic.

cowgomoo 8 years, 11 months ago

Actually Kansas does allow children to possess and consume cereal malt beverage (3.2 beer) when that possession and consumption is with permission and in the presence of a parent. See K.S.A. 21-3610 and K.S.A. 41-727.

staff04 8 years, 11 months ago

The Hawk is the first place I ever got really obliterated. It was right before spring break my senior year...in high school. I was barely older than eighteen, and it was well known that all you had to do was get inside and you could drink. I don't think we even made an effort to conceal the small X's that were marked on our hands. I'm not in favor of having them run out of town because I think it is a neat bar that my friends and I occasionally visit on game day to try and pick up on drunk freshmen...

That's what I like about high school girls...alrightalrightalright....

westernksgirl 8 years, 11 months ago

Badger, I'd have to agree with you to a certain extent on this subject. With the caveat, that you can't supply your friends' kids with alcohol. It truly would be only parents buying for their children. I completely agree with the concept of teaching responsible drinking (and, if the parent is responsible with their own drinking, this is how it will be portrayed, and if they're NOT responsible, then, the "kid" has learned this already.) It takes the stigma and forbiddenness out of this, and hopefully, detracts from "binge drinking" once the kid is able to purchase this on their own (and, I agree with 18 as the age). However, until then, the law is the law, and ABC has to enforce it as obviously, the Hawk and other similarly situated establishments do not.

badger 8 years, 11 months ago

cowgomoo said:

"Actually Kansas does allow children to possess and consume cereal malt beverage (3.2 beer) when that possession and consumption is with permission and in the presence of a parent. See K.S.A. 21-3610 and K.S.A. 41-727."

Isn't giving your children 3.2 beer some sort of child abuse?

I mean, really. Have you ever HAD 3.2 beer?

makes faces

I'd have run away from home if my parents had made me drink that...I'd probably be a teetotaller to this day.

In Texas, you can consume alcohol if you're with a parent or spouse who is over 21. Beer, wine, hard liquor, whatever. I think there are pretty harsh penalties for the parents, though, if a child is intoxicated or impaired, or if your kid has a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and then gets behind the wheel.

I agree that it has to be parents and children, not just any responsible adult. I hate to see parents buying other people's kids booze. That bothers me a lot, even with spoken permission.

glockenspiel 8 years, 11 months ago

Drinking age should be 19.

Kids need to be kids. Without beer and bars... I'd still be single...

glockenspiel 8 years, 11 months ago

I drive a party bus part time an have seen and heard students that are underage use fake ID's to get into the Hawk. They brag that it is one of the easier bars to get into.

And how many ID's have you checked? I've been on 10-15 party buses as a minor, I had beer every time, and not once did I ever have to give the bus driver a fake ID.

Godot 8 years, 11 months ago

Soldiers can drink alcohol on a military base, regardless of their age. The miltary base doesn't have to follow state law in that regard.

Bruce Bertsch 8 years, 11 months ago

Boo frickin hoo. You make $$$ selling to underage drinkers and you cry when you get caught.

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