City liquor ordinance approved

By D. Richard Roth

The DeKalb City Council approved the second reading of an ordinance Monday night that will create a five-person local liquor control commission, notwithstanding a veto by DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow.

Council members approved the ordinance, after a second reading, by a slim vote of 4-3.

The idea for the creation of a local liquor commission grew out of several campaign remarks by former mayoral candidate and 2nd Ward Ald. Michael Welsh.

Welsh said Sparrow was not carrying out his responsibilities as local liquor commissioner effectively and a five-person liquor commission could do so more objectively.

The ordinance approved Monday night would create a local five-person liquor commission, with its members gaining appointment from the liquor commissioner.

Moreover, the commission would be granted power to review and investigate applicants for liquor licenses in DeKalb, as well as conducting disciplinary hearings.

While the five-person local liquor commission would have the power to investigate and review certain areas pertaining to DeKalb’s liquor policy, the ultimate decision-making authority would still rest with the liquor commissioner, Sparrow.

Previously, at the April 12 city council meeting, the ordinance was denied passage after first reading by a vote of 4-3.

In addition to vocalizing concern over the effectiveness of the mayor as liquor commissioner, Welsh said he is very concerned with campaign contributions going to a city official who has complete autonomy in the liquor policy decision-making process.

The next step in the process of creating and appointing a local liquor commission is for the mayor to decide whether or not to exercise his veto power and temporarily kill the ordinance.

If in fact this occurs, the city council could attempt to override the mayoral veto.

In any event, the DeKalb City Council will meet again at 7 p.m. on May 10.