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St. Charles aldermen warn bars of deadline to sober up

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST

ST. CHARLES – Aldermen on Monday expressed doubts that the bars’ attempts to police themselves are working.

Bill Turner of the 3rd Ward went so far as calling it a sham.

“I don’t see any internal controls in this,” he said.

Through their attorney, liquor license holders in September presented the Government Services Committee with a proposal establishing a voluntary tavern association. The group is to serve as a conduit between members and the city to create a safe and healthy business climate downtown.

It was in response to Mayor Don DeWitte’s request to reduce liquor license hours for bars and restaurants by one hour in an effort to curb overserving. The City Council tabled its decision when license holders protested.

Steve Baginski, The Beehive Tavern and Grill owner, spoke on behalf of the tavern association Monday night to update the Government Operations Committee on the group’s progress.

Since September, he said, bars have posted signs about last call and instituted a banned list that is being shared with the police. Taverns have also begun using hand stamps to better track which establishments patrons have visited, he said.

He noted that membership is increasing. He named The Office and McNally’s as establishments resisting participation.

Cliff Carrignan, of the 2nd Ward, said that the association’s efforts have been aimed at the patrons. What, he asked, is being done with the servers?

“That was the main issue that got us here,” Carrignan said. “If you guys are sincere, we need to see it.”

Baginski said they are.

“We’re very serious about changing that perception of us, that we’re serving too much,” Baginski said.

Referencing recent police reports, chairman Jim Martin said, “I hope we see some improvement because I’m not happy with what I’m seeing so far. …You’ve got till January.”

In other news, the committee also unanimously denied Richard Simpson’s request to increase the occupancy capacity of his establishment, Alibi Bar and Grill at 12 N. Third St.

As a condition of its liquor license, Alibi is limited to an occupancy of 295, including 18 employees. Simpson wanted to lift the restriction, bringing the occupancy to 427 as set by the St. Charles Fire Department.

Simpson said he has had to turn people away.

“I’m still pretty vacant,” he said.

Turner and fellow 3rd Ward alderman Ray Rogina noted his liquor license violations.

“With all due respect,” Rogina said, “you’ve been cited.”

Maureen Lewis of the 5th Ward said he should have his license for a year before the city makes any changes. Jo Krieger of the 4th Ward said the probation period should begin after the last fine.

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