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Our views: City is right to lay down law on Quotes

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October 16, 2013

Quotes.
Again.
That's right, the troubled tavern on North Main Street in Janesville is in the news—for the wrong reasons—again.
Quotes and its owner, Denise Carpenter, had no more ended a four-month sanction when more problems caused more police calls to the bar.
Now, as reported in Tuesday's Gazette, the city has taken the unprecedented step of dealing with Quotes and its issues through the chronic nuisance ordinance.
Maybe that approach and the fines that come with it will finally get Carpenter's attention.
Don't count on it.
Quotes has had chronic problems since it opened in 2004. Carpenter has been called before the city's liquor license advisory committee several times, and the city has threatened to revoke the bar's liquor license because of the number of fights, after-hours violations and other issues that required police calls.
Carpenter on Dec. 7 finished the four-month sanction, during which she agreed to close the bar early as an alternative to a revocation hearing. Within months, police were again dealing with fights, disorderly conduct and reports of people in the bar after hours.
Granted, some unruly behavior is inevitable when you run a tavern. People drink, and they misbehave. Police understand that, and they give establishments a fair amount of leeway. They can only be so patient and understanding, though, and they rightfully have no patience for after-hours violations that are totally within the establishment's control.
Quotes has gone over the limit way too many times, and the city is right to get serious with the bar and its owner.
The city council adopted the nuisance ordinance in 2008 to control properties with chronic problems that require police. After four police calls in a year, the ordinance allows the police chief to compel a business owner to attend a meeting to develop a plan to correct nuisance issues. If violations continue, the city can charge the owner for the cost of police responses.
Although the ordinance has been used against landlords, Quotes is the first business subjected to the ordinance's requirements. Police are meeting with an attorney about how to proceed and are considering holding a license revocation hearing or imposing earlier closing times, Deputy Police Chief Dan Davis said in Tuesday's story.
Quotes could face a fine of up to $1,000 if police are called for another nuisance issue. The fine would increase to $5,000 for subsequent violations, and Carpenter also could be charged the cost of police services, including labor, materials and administrative time.
That could get costly in a hurry, and the intent is that the potential fines would finally be enough incentive for Carpenter to get things under control.
If that doesn't happen, it's time for last call at Quotes.



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