As the evening began, Mayor Keith Snyder said he would be jumping
around in the agenda to accommodate hearing from the guests on the
issue they were concerned about.
The council first witnessed the swearing in of Lincoln Police Chief
Ken Greenslate, then the appointment and swearing in of Deputy Chief
Michael Geriets. They approved the consent agenda, then veered from
the agenda order to discuss the pour license.
Snyder called on the first person who had requested to speak. Bob
Arneaud of Qik-n-EZ said he had nothing to say at the moment, but
reserved the right to speak after the others had spoken.
Snyder then called on Dale Ridgway. Ridgway was very vocal about the
video gaming machines when the city was considering allowing them in
2012. He told the council then that he was addicted to gambling and
it had cost him $60,000 in gambling losses.
This week Ridgway spoke out again. He began by speaking about the
good things that he sees in Lincoln. He said he recalled a
Springfield television network coming to Lincoln during the annual
Together for Lincoln day and filming the community helping out those
who were in need. He said it was something to be proud of and he had
been excited about.
With sarcasm, he said he had considered calling that network and
asking them to come back because the city now had something new to
be proud of. He finished saying that thought had been his anger
speaking, and it was something he saw all the time in the
Co-dependency group he is involved with, people lashing out in
Ridgway told the council that he knew people who were addicted to
gambling that had steered clear of it for a long time, but got
sucked back in with the new video gaming machines.
He added that for addicts, the addition of alcohol will make things
worse. He said their losses would lead to increased drinking, which
would lead to accidents and violent behavior.
He ended his comments saying he was concerned for those who would
have to deal with these patrons. He said owners, managers, and staff
would have to become bouncers, psychologists, and cops when things
went wrong in their stores.
Next to speak was Leslie Cooper. Cooper had been at the meeting last
Tuesday night and spoke out against the pour license. She spoke very
briefly on Monday night, saying she appreciated the council and what
they do, and that she respected them as the city’s governing body.
She asked them to remember what their mission for Lincoln is and
asked them where they would put this (liquor and gaming in
convenience stores) in a brochure about the town.
When Cooper finished, Snyder asked for a motion. Kathy Horn moved to
approve the request for the creation of a pour license. The motion
was seconded by Tom O’Donohue, though, he indicated then he was
doing it so that the council could move forward without the motion
dying on the floor.
During discussion, Horn spoke first, defending her motion. She said
that she knew McCumber Cliff McCumber of 5th Street Food Mart was
the petitioner), and knew he was doing this for the sake of his
business. She said she also knew that he would “be right on top” of
things if the gaming and liquor were allowed. She emphasized
McCumber’s previous claims that he didn’t want the pour license in
order to serve liquor. He needs the license in order to offer
gaming. She said she wanted to support business in Lincoln, and she
could not vote against something that would help his business.
Marty Neitzel spoke next saying that she too was all for promoting
business in Lincoln. She supports McCumber as a small business
owner, but she would like to see him come up with another way to
resolve his problems. She told the group, “I am against the liquor,
I am not against the machines.”
[to top of second column]
Melody Anderson had been absent for the Tuesday night
workshop session when McCumber stated his case for the license.
She said on Monday night that she had since spoken with McCumber.
Anderson said she appreciated the way McCumber had come to the
council and approached the topic in a very professional manner,
but she would not be supporting the request. She told the
council, “I did express to him that at this time I cannot
support this ordinance change. I wouldn’t say that I wouldn’t
consider it in the future, but as things stand right now, I
City Treasurer Chuck Conzo spoke up in favor of the request. He
told the council that what it really comes down to, is that
gaming is already allowed in Lincoln. He said, “That ship has
sailed about 18 months ago. What is really in question here is
do you want a level playing field so they (Fifth Street Food
Mart and Qik-N-Ez) can compete fairly with their competitors.”
O’Donohue said that while he agreed with Conzo on the gaming,
this was not just about gaming, it was also about alcohol being
served in a convenience store. He said he had heard from more
people on this topic than any other since he has been an
alderman. He said he had no objections to gaming, he had no
objections to alcohol. He finished saying, “While the gambling
issue has come and gone, this is about the liquor issue. I just
don’t like what doing it this way says about our community.”
Conzo made one last comment in response to O’Donohue. He said
alcohol is already legal in Lincoln too. He added that there are
already places that create a lot more problems than the food
Michelle Bauer also spoke up on the issue. At the Tuesday night
meeting she had appeared to be in support of the request. She
had said then that she could see the possibility that people who
are not playing now, might play in a convenience store. She said
there could be people who would enjoy gaming, but hesitate to go
into a tavern in order to play. She added that she believed
people who were going for the purpose of drinking would still go
to a tavern.
This week Bauer said she has spent time since last Tuesday
researching what Champaign had done in denying the request
there. She said the city of Lincoln now needed to consider not
just Fifth Street Food Mart and Qik-N-Ez. Bauer said she knows
both of these businesses, frequents them often, and trusts they
would handle things properly. But, the issue becomes others who
might apply for the license.
She told the council, “We can’t be elitists. I do think there is
a potential of opening somewhat of a Pandora’s Box for the city
to be asked to allow other establishments to create different
types of revenue. That’s where the issue is at this point. There
are other businesses that I don’t know I would feel as
After Bauer finished, Snyder asked if there were any other
comments. When no one responded he called for the vote. With all
eight aldermen present Monday night, seven - Anderson, Bauer,
Scott Cooper, Jeff Hoinacki, Neitzel, O’Donohue, and Jonie Tibbs
voted “no.” The sole “yes” vote came from Horn, and the motion
McCumber was present for the vote and left along with several
others immediately after the motion failed.
[By NILA SMITH]