After numerous attempts to reach you by phone, which you have refused to respond [sic], I am writing a response to your recent articles and boycott of the Nitty Gritty Restaurant & Bar regarding the possibility of adding a UW-Madison student to the ALRC committee [sic] with voting privileges.

Let me make this very clear. For many years the Tavern League has felt they [sic] should have a vote on the ALRC committee [sic] and has fallen on deaf ears through several city administrations [sic]. Now Alderman Eagon is requesting a UW student be seating [sic] on this committee with voting privileges. We consider this a direct slap in the face to the hospitality industry. With over 500 liquor licenses issued in the City of Madison, only approximately [sic] 1/3 of these businesses are located in the downtown and campus area. Why should the University and their [sic] students have any say on what transpires in the rest of the city? The Tavern League has previously opposed the appointment of a University of Wisconsin representative to the ALRC and we opposed the appointment of the student granted a non-voting seat. Both of these appointments were still made over our objections. Mark Woulf, the student non-voting member was seated on the ALRC in August and has offered his expertise (for what it’s worth) and opinions when needed in his capacity, similar to the Tavern League. The Tavern League has a more vested interest in the basic policy, licensing, review, ordinance creation, discipline and revocation processes than any student from the UW. We understand the processing issues affecting our businesses and livelihood [sic]. We truly believe the University and their [sic] students should absolutely have no say in what transpires in the hospitality industry. We feel you should mind your own business and stay out of ours! The University is the hospitality industry’s biggest competitor serving alcohol at their [sic] establishments [sic], and we have no say in what they [sic] do or how they [sic] do it! Talk about unfair!

Alderman Eagon’s proposal is unfair to all other non-voting members of the ALRC who have legitimate reasons why they should also be allowed to have voting privileges. When the student was added to the non-voting position on the ALRC is [sic] was our understanding this appointment was for a 3 year [sic] trial period, with a sunset clause, meaning it would be reviewed in 2012 to determine if that seat should continue to exist. Now, after only three months Alderman Eagon is seeking to have this seat turned into one with voting privileges. Give me a break! The student appointed Mark Moulf [sic], or anyone else appointed has nothing vested in our industry and is here only for a few years while attending the UW. We believe they lack the maturity and wisdom to be allowed to make complex decisions regarding the licensing process and what it entails for a business owner operating a business with a Class A or Class B liquor license. When the student graduates they leave and the industry would then be forced to clean up or live with the decisions this student helped formulate against the hospitality industry.

As President of the Madison/Dane County Tavern League I am truly disappointed in Alderman Eagon for his part in contacting his friends, the editors of the Badger Herald and the Daily Cardinal and asking them to contact the students at the University and tell them to boycott the Nitty Gritty Restaurant and Bar (Marsh Shapiro’s place) just because Marsh voiced the Tavern League’s concerns and rejection of seating a student on the ALRC with voting privileges [sic]. Marsh does not derive [sic] at these decisions alone, our TLW Madison Board of Directors and Officers discuss our position and Marsh follows their advice [sic]. Mr. Shapiro represents all Class A and Class B liquor license holders in the city. He was not representing the Nitty Gritty when he spoke and did [sic] not deserve the treatment his business has received from the student body and from your newspaper. Over the years, the Nitty Gritty has sponsored many fund raising [sic] events for the UW, hired more students than you can imagine, and this is the thanks you give him, shame on all of you! [sic] This just shows me the lack of maturity and wisdom from some of your readers and the editorial staff of your newspaper! With this in mind, you want us to support a student voting on our livelihood, I don’t think so! [sic] Your editorial and advertising to boycott a business is [sic] really close to anti-trust and fair business trade violations. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion, but don’t infringe on the rights of others who’s [sic] opinions differ from yours. Reminds me of a recent lawsuit the community just finished. Please, let’s not go there again!

If you have a problem with the Madison/Dane County Tavern League, you come to me! I will respond and I ask that you please leave the businesses in the City of Madison alone.

Barb Mercer, President
Madison/Dane County Tavern League

Click to download a copy of the original, unsolicited letter