Burns Blasts Idea of Allowing Liquor License Holders to Seek Office

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns takes a hard stance this week against a code change that would let liquor-license holders run for alderman.

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns this week blasted the City Council's stated position to allow liquor-license holders to run for public office.

At the tail end of Monday's Geneva City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, Burns underlined in bold his stance that the city code is right to prohibit liquor license holders from holding an aldermanic position.

"We don’t have a problem, folks," Burns said. "But I think we have a problem by amending the code."

First Ward Alderman Sam Hill brought up the notion at the fifth-Monday COW meeting on July 31. On that night, , but he did ask the City Council to consider amending its code to allow liquor-license holders to run for an aldermanic post. He asked as a matter of policy, of course, but the change would also allow Mike Olesen, owner of Stockholm's, to throw his hat into the 1st Ward ring come April.

In an 8-2 straw poll on July 31, the Committee of the Whole favored amending city ordinance to allow liquor-license holders to seek an aldermanic seat.

"I am 300 percent opposed," Burns said Monday night. "The mental gymnastics shown that evening would have rivaled (the U.S. Olympics team.)"

Some of the arguments at the July meeting were that the law was outdated, a Prohibition-era leftover that was obsolute in this day and age. Burns disagreed, saying it was bad policy.

"You don't change a law to accommodate one person," he said. "(This is) the one person who said, 'This is not about me,' and a nanosecond after that said, 'I’m a candidate.' My role, I believe, is in part to protect and preserve the integrity of this governing body."

Burns said having a liquor-license holder on the City Council would be a slippery slope, in part because the alderman would have to abstain on so many topics that come before the board. He said votes on everything from hiring a police officer to building code enforcement "would rise to the level of a license-holder having to recuse himself or herself from a vote."

"A happenstance conflict of interest is one thing," he said. "A regular conflict of interest is something different."

Burns said his position "has not changed and will not change."

"My God, we just  because of morality, perception and image ... I am against amending a code that raises suspicious—real or perceived—conflict of interest."

If given the opportunity, Olesen would face off against , who announced his candidacy for the 1st Ward seat in a June press conference on the Courthouse step, and Mike Bruno, who announced his candidacy on Aug. 15 on the front steps of his home in the Geneva Historic District.  also has said he would seek the 1st Ward position.

Terry Flanagan September 01, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Colin, Why go through the extra expense and effort of a referendum when an election lets the voters most affected make the decision?
Colin C. September 01, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Because the popularity, or lack thereof, of the candidate clouds the issue of whether the ordinance itself should be changed.
Terry Flanagan September 01, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Of course it does.
Paul Bryant September 01, 2012 at 01:04 PM
It's clear as the nose on his face. The mayor sees Mr. Olesen as a threat, someone not easily swayed. While young, inexperienced Mr. Ploppert is seen more as someone that can be molded to the mayors whims.
Jennifer Anderson October 02, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Now let us sign the petition to encourage the official vote on the matter. Then let the people decide with their vote who is best qualified to be First Ward Alderman. http://www.change.org/petitions/geneva-city-council-amend-the-geneva-liquor-license-ordinance#


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