Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Drink-special regulations to be debated at ALRC meeting

A controversial report on the effects of drink specials will be debated at tonight’s Alcohol License Review Committee meeting.

Testimony by students and city officials is expected to accompany the subcommittee’s preliminary recommendations for the city drink-special policy, alcohol-free venues and over-serving in bars.

Subcommittee member Tom Garver said he hopes the recommendations will be adopted as a reasonable compromise on the regulation of drink specials.

“Drink specials wouldn’t be banned–they would be dropped after a certain time of night or run for an entire week to discourage excessive drinking,” Garver said.

When Dick Lyshek, the committee’s Tavern League representative and owner of Bullfeathers, 303 N. Henry St., was asked if such regulations would be a reasonable compromise, he said he thinks any regulation of alcohol sales is unacceptable.

“The very idea of the city micro-managing the freedom of commerce is completely unacceptable,” Lyshek said. “Binge drinking is no worse now than it has been over the decades and there is no need for this report.”

Subcommittee member Bill Cosh said he thinks bars should not be considered ordinary businesses because they need licenses to serve their products. He also said it is unreasonable for anyone to deny the impact of Madison’s drinking culture.

“The statistics and data speak for itself,” Cosh said.

In the 2001 fall semester, 33 UW-Madison students were conveyed to detox with an average blood alcohol content of .21.

ALRC member Ald. Tim Bruer, District 14, who has been at the forefront of the city’s movement to ban drink specials, said commercial alcohol deals become a problem when bars put profit ahead of public safety.

Bruer said he thinks it is short-sighted to only focus on the report’s recommendation to regulate drink specials. He said the committee is also working hard to enhance entertainment venues where alcohol is not the main event, such as the Regent Street Retreat.

“By increasing the capacity of entertainment venues, we’re making it more financially feasible for businesses in hopes of opening up more alcohol-free alternatives,” Bruer said.

In March, the ALRC increased the maximum capacity of the Regent Street Retreat in order to offer more shows to students over age 18. Drinking is still allowed with occasional dry nights.

Bruer said the ALRC is working to balance the interests of the bars, the downtown patrons and the community.

“Greater opportunities for underage entertainment venues, a decrease in detox runs and cause for police service is in all of our best interest,” Bruer said.

Garver said the revised report would be presented and discussed at Thursday’s meeting.

Other recommendations in the report include dealing with chronic alcohol abusers on State Street and educating bartenders about over-consumption.

“The revised report will contain specific recommendations and ordinance language rather than be a sociological paper as it is now,” Garver said.

If report proposals are passed by the ALRC, the recommendations will be considered by the City Council in May.
The meeting will be in room 201 of the City-County Building on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd at 6:30 p.m. and will be open for public comment.

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