Hearing set to determine fate of Otto’s bar license

By Michael Berg

Otto’s bar remains closed as the public hearing concerning revocation of its liquor license draws closer.

The hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Monday in the DeKalb Municipal Building before DeKalb Liquor Commissioner Greg Sparrow, who also is the city’s mayor.

“In this case the action is being taken in response to the state action,” Sparrow said. “The state revoked its license that Otto’s needs to have in order to purchase liquor at wholesale and sell liquor at retail.”

The state revoked the liquor license held by Otto’s owner Bob Daniels, and the bar, 118 E. Lincoln Hwy., has been closed since Saturday. Tax problems with the state and federal government forced the state action.

Daniels said he owes a total of $120,000 in taxes to the state and the Internal Revenue Service.

“There was no particular violation of city law,” Sparrow said. “As far as I know, his taxes to the city are paid.”

Sparrow said his duties as liquor commissioner are misunderstood by many people. “The liquor commissioner does not make the laws,” he said. “The laws are made by the city council.”

Enforcement of the law is not Sparrow’s job either but is the duty of the police force. “A lot of people think I walk in and close down bars,” he said. “That’s crazy.”

Sparrow said his function in the process is to set a hearing if necessary and make the decision on the complaint. “If the problem and the evidence received is sufficient enough and the police chief feels the need for a hearing in conjunction with the city attorney, they bring this to me and I set a hearing,” Sparrow said.

“It will be a hearing, like any other, in judicial fashion,” Sparrow said.

Sparrow also said Daniels had the option to avoid the hearing and turn in his license to the city. “If they turn it in and walk away, there would be no reason to hold a hearing,” he said. “Otherwise, he can come before me and plead his case.”