The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

September 12, 2013

Alcohol-rule change proposal sent back to committee level

By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Unsatisfied with the proposed changes to the rules applying to bars that allow patrons under the age of 21, Clinton City Council members sent the rules back to the committee level for more discussion.

Members of the Gateway ImpACT Coalition came before the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday night to discuss a handful of changes, including one that would require patrons between the ages of 21 and 30 to wear wristbands at all times if they are in a bar that allows people under the age of 21.

That wristband would have the name of the bar on it as well as be a specific color assigned to that bar.

Members of the anti-substance abuse organization also suggested if a patron is purchasing a pitcher of beer or multiple drinks, all members of his or her party must be identified and checked for wristbands or carded. Employees also will be directed to regularly check tables with pitchers of beer to make sure no one under 21 is drinking.

Fourteen Clinton bars allow minors into bars through the city’s under 21 exemption and would be subjected to the new rules.

At-large Councilman John Rowland was alarmed the group didn’t come forward with any recommendation to change the 12:30 curfew for people under 21 in bars, calling the wristband suggestion “trivial.”

“Quite frankly, I’m appalled, if you’re sincere about minors not being in taverns,” Rowland said.

Of several other Iowa cities, Clinton has the most lax rules when it comes to if and when minors can be in bars. While Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Iowa City allow minors in bars, these towns kick minors out at least two and a half hours before Clinton does at 12:30 a.m.

In Iowa City the curfew is 10 p.m., Dubuque 9 p.m. and Cedar Rapids 7 p.m.

Ames, Mason City and Waterloo ban minors in bars entirely.

Instead of moving forward with the proposed changes, Rowland suggested the monitoring plan be sent back to the committee level. At-large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf amended a motion she had previously made to move the item forward, instead moving to send the item back to the Rules and Regulations Committee.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Julie Allesee also proposed the committee investigate where special event permits could be required for minors in bars such as pool tournaments and similar events.

Police Chief Brian Guy said his department would like city officials to review the monitoring plan with other interested parties in order to avoid the city garnering attention for lenient underage drinking policies.

“We’re trying to find a good balance of what we can do as a community, law enforcement and bar owners to make sure that Clinton isn’t the place where everybody knows you can go if you’re intent on drinking underage,” Guy said.

The committee voted 5-1 to send the item back with Ward 1 Councilwoman Maggie Klaes dissenting and Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman acting as Mayor pro-tem.