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Beaver Dam committee moves forward with revocation process for Johnny’s Lounge; lawyer challenges legitimacy

September 18, 2018

The Beaver Dam Common Council’s administrative committee has decided to start the process to potentially revoke or suspend the liquor license for Johnny’s Lounge.

However, the lawyer for the bar, at 519 Madison St., is challenging the process used to get to this point.

Without discussion at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night, the committee voted 4-0 with two abstentions to move forward with the court-style hearing process after City Attorney Maryann Schacht was unable to reach a settlement with the bar’s lawyer, Brent Eisberner. Council members Ken Anderson and David Hansen abstained from the vote, and Lisa Davidson was absent.

The bar received 230 points under the city’s demerit system over a fight with injuries that occurred in June, which police Lawyer for Beaver Dam said no one at the bar reported. Bars receive demerit points for violations such as serving alcohol to a minor. Receiving 200 points in an 18-month period can lead to a recommendation from the police department that an establishment lose its liquor license.

The hearing process involves cross-examination as a step in the process over the council deciding whether to suspend or revoke the bar’s liquor license.

On Aug. 6, the committee actually did not pass a motion to begin the revocation process. That motion failed in a 2-2 vote with three abstentions. However, at that meeting, the committee continued to discuss the issue after the vote. Committee members have had many questions about the process and at times have expressed confusion.

At the Aug. 6 meeting, after first voting down the beginning of the revocation process but still discussing the issue, the committee then directed Schacht in a second motion to try again to negotiate a settlement with Eisberner before adjourning.

What they did not do on Aug. 6 is vote to actually reconsider the revocation at a later time. They instead did that on Aug. 20, which Eisberner said was a parliamentary error of timing.

“The courts are not going to look happy at this,” he said.

He also said he believes the city’s demerit process itself oversteps its authority and took issue with the fact that one fight could lead to a revocation.

Under the nonbinding demerit point system, the committee has the final say on whether to forward a recommendation of revoking a liquor license to the full Common Council.

According to police, on the night in question regarding possible revocation, a man tried to intervene in a fight between another man and a woman. A third man believed to be connected to the couple then allegedly sucker-punched the intervening man, who suffered injuries to his mouth and jaw.

Police say no one from the bar contacted them about the fight and the injured man came in to see them the next day. Police viewed camera footage of the incident.

However, the man who allegedly started the fight has not been charged with a crime over the incident. Eisberner pointed that out as well on Monday night.

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