Ron Trachtenberg was appalled. In a protest email to members of the city of Madison's Alcohol License Review Committee, the Madison attorney and former alderperson called it "a disaster" and "disgusting."
Trachtenberg was referring to a pair of bartender license applications heard by the ALRC on April 15. The first was for a 29-year-old woman he described as "cute, blonde, curvaceous, good breasts and articulate, with a killer smile." Her application had been flagged for review by the Madison Police Department because she failed to report a traffic violation and several administrative actions for noncompliance stemming from two OWIs she received in 2004 and 2005. (She also had past convictions for battery, bail jumping and marijuana possession.)
She explained, basically, that these just slipped her mind. That she had two OWIs and was seeking a bartender's license was remarked on by one committee member. But Madison Capt. Carl Gloede said this in itself would not have triggered a review, and the committee granted the license.
Next up was a 50-year-old man who needed a bartender license for a new job. He had no alcohol-related offenses and no one challenged the fullness of his disclosures. But he was convicted of growing pot in his home (a felony) in 2003, and had slightly older convictions for retail theft and disorderly conduct.
The man, who already has a job as an alcohol server, said he'd had an undiagnosed autism-related condition but has since been taking medication and become "a much better member of society." The ALRC rejected his application.
"The ALRC treats people really summarily," says Trachtenberg. "They're just really rough on them."
And it's true, there seems to be little logic to how the ALRC handled these two cases. Why should someone with an obvious drinking problem get a license and a guy busted for growing pot six years ago be denied? Could it be simply that the committee found one applicant more pleasing?
See if you can come up with a better theory: The back-to-back applications are archived on Madison City Channel (www.cityofmadison.com/mcc12/index.html), Part 1 of the ALRC's April 15 meeting, around the one-hour mark.