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Published:September 14th, 2005 13:08 EST
Illinois - Carbondale City Council split on incentive for smoke-free establishments

Illinois - Carbondale City Council split on incentive for smoke-free establishments

By Matthew Kent

Illinois -  Earlier this year, the Carbondale City Council was divided 3-3 on whether to approve Mayor Brad Cole's proposed incentive to waive liquor license fees for bars and restaurants that voluntarily go smoke-free.

Councilman Lance Jack was out of the country and thus was not present at the meeting, creating a split vote. In December of last year, the Liquor Advisory Board, which makes recommendations to the council, also ended in a tie vote on the issue.

Councilman Chris Wissmann was one of the council members who strongly supported the proposal.

"I think the city really needs to take a proactive step to prevent smoking," Wissmann said. "The long-term health benefit greatly outweighs the financial shortfall."

The Council also voted on a number of liquor code revisions, one of which denied a resolution giving Cole more power within the Local Liquor Control Commission.

Cole, who serves as the Commission's chairman, wanted to be given the authority to levy a fine, or issue a letter of reprimand to establishments in violation of the liquor codes without the review of the entire commission, which is made up of the Council.

Wissmann called this a "fairness issue," noting that under the original provision, if liquor licensees thought they have been unfairly treated, they could have appealed their decision to the commission.

Wissmann expressed frustration on the issue of the liquor codes.

"We got overly obsessed with liquor to the great detriment of our city," he said. "We need to bring jobs ... and discussions on liquor clouds our judgment, and we end up not doing things we need to be doing," Wissmann said.

Other changes to the liquor code included raising the fine for individuals who sell liquor without a license or permit to individuals younger than 21 on their property to $250 rather than $50. The maximum penalty still remains at $750. Additionally, the minimum penalty for providing alcohol to a person younger than 21 was increased from $250 to a $500 fine.

Council members also struck down a resolution that would have permitted alcohol sales to be extended to any area north of the southern limits of Carbondale. Also, the board was split in regards to the time a person under the legal entry age may remain at an eating establishment after the kitchen is closed, which was reduced from one hour to 30 minutes.

The Council also discussed but rejected a change to the city's ordinance on proper attire.

Cole proposed a revision of the current code, which would have required men and women to wear "bikini bottoms" as opposed to "g-strings" and the covering of the female breasts.

"We spin our wheels on silly things," Wissmann said. "Don't we have better things to do than find men's nipples in bars? People laugh when people get busted for this."