The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 9, 2013

14 exempt bars may require wristbands

By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer

---- — CLINTON -- A resolution has yet to be made by the city of Clinton on whether 14 exempt bars will be required to implement wristbands to patrons between the ages of 21 and 30.

The discussion has been passed back and forth between the Clinton city council and the Rules and Regulations committee several times, only to come up empty yet again.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, the council could not reach an agreement on approving the wristband ordinance, reaching a draw on the vote three to three. The subject will be revisited by the committee at the next meeting, which will have two additional council members to weigh their votes on the issue.

Council members Maggie Klaes, Jennifer Graf and Beverly Hermann all supported the projected changes to the ordinance presented by the Gateway ImpACT coalition, which will require bars and taverns that allow people younger than 21 to issue the wristbands, but Graf and Hermann also suggested the city look at lessening the hours the underage adults would be allowed to stay.

"I don't deny this is a great idea brought forward because it is a discussion that we need to have and we do have a developing college community that we need to be cognoscente of," Graf said. "But I do think that we need to have a strong discussion about this time frame."

The time frame that Graf referred to, presented by the ImpACT coalition, showed that other cities in Iowa have a substantially earlier time that underage patrons are required to leave liquor establishments, if allowing them at all, than the city of Clinton.

The list included Cedar Rapids which requires underage people to leave by 7 p.m., Dubuque at 9 p.m and Iowa City at 10 p.m. Ames, Mason City and Waterloo do not allow patrons younger than 21 in bars or taverns at any point in time.

"These (cities) have large college populations I would note, but the exception seems to be Clinton, Iowa with the latest time which is 12:30 a.m.," Graf said.

Members of the council were not the only ones at Tuesday's meeting who brought strong support to changing the time underage patrons would be allowed in the bars.

Clinton Police Captain Bill Greenwall presented his and police Cheif Brian Guy's views on changing the time, stating that if people younger than 21 were forced to leave anywhere from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. as opposed to 12:30, it would be easier for the police to prevent underage drinking.

"Number one it's a busier time of night for us generally. Secondly, for us when we're in there, the later you get into a bar at night tends to see more intoxicated patrons. When you start to go in and start (identifying) people and saying 'you're under 21 you have to be out of here' you tend to deal with more people who are intoxicated and we end up turning our focus on those that are intoxicated who are upset that we're kicking out the 19 or 20 year old," Greenwall said.

As the conversation of the time change continued, it started to garner more and more support from the council which led to a vote to move it back to the Rules and Regulations committee to be discussed, with the exception that certain exemptions such as pool tournaments and weddings would be included in the ordinance.

The vote passed the council four to two at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, sending it back to the Rules and Regulations Committee where it will be met with disagreeing parties once again.

"My point when we were at the Rules and Regs was you've got the adults, technically, that are 18 to 20 years old, they're working 3 to 11 and they just want to go and relax and have a pop and play some pool," Klaes said. "I say 12:30 is a good time. That will get them out well before the 2 a.m. cut off for alcohol and it'll get (those) that are under 21 away from the situation."