Council shoots down liquor commission

By D. Richard Roth

The DeKalb City Council, after heated debate, denied passage of an ordinance to create a five-member city liquor commission Monday night.

The City of DeKalb’s liquor enforcement policy is guided by its liquor commissioner Mayor Greg Sparrow.

However, as the campaign season for city mayor enters its final rounds, one candidate has become particularly frank in his remarks concerning the office of liquor commissioner.

“Perhaps if the mayor’s travels were within the state of Illinois and not California or Florida, the liquor commissioner job would get done,” 2nd Ward Ald. Michael Welsh said.

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

The commission would also have power to review and investigate applicants for liquor licenses in DeKalb, as well as conducting disciplinary hearings.

While some DeKalb aldermen were satisfied with the dimensions of the ordinance in its current form, others voiced reservations.

“We need diverse public opinion in the matter of appointing a liquor commission,” 7th Ward Ald. Jordan Kagan said. “I would amend the ordinance to include representation from the NIU community as well as the religious community.”

Kagan said he believes if a DeKalb Liquor Commission were to be created it should only be granted advisory power to the liquor commissioner.

Other aldermen voiced concerns over the effectiveness of the current liquor commissioner.

“Either we have no liquor problems in DeKalb or we have a really big problem,” Welsh said. “I believe we have a situation where the mouse is guarding the cheese.”

Welsh said he is very concerned with the contributions that have been received by DeKalb’s current liquor commissioner.

“Mayor Sparrow has received over $7,000 in contributions from liquor establishments in DeKalb,” he said. “He spends more time in the taverns than he does governing liquor policy.”

The ordinance was defeated by a vote of 4-3 last night. It will be presented again at the council’s April 26 meeting.