Illinois House passes liquor law amendment, paves way for Oak Park's new president

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

The liquor law bill passed by the Illinois Senate April 18 that alleviates a potential conflict of interest for Oak Park's President-elect Anan Abu-Taleb moved through the House of Representatives Thursday by a 65-50 vote.

The bill, which awaits the governor's signature, is an amendment to the Liquor Control Act of 1934 — a bill that established that suburban village presidents would serve as local liquor commissioner but could not hold liquor licenses.

The law was amended last year to exempt communities of 50,000 or less, but the new law bumps that population level up to 55,000. The change also provides for delegation of liquor commissioner duties to an attorney with an active license to practice law in the State of Illinois.

According to the law change, it also states that the person shall not legally represent liquor license applicants or holders before the Village Board or before the Liquor Control Review Board, or before an adjacent jurisdiction. The appointee shall also not have an interest in the manufacture, sale, or distribution of alcoholic liquor and shall not be appointed to a term to exceed the term of the village president, or members of the village board, according to the terms of the law.

If signed into law, Abu-Taleb avoids any conflict at the state level, but at home in Oak Park there would still need to be a local ordinance change to avoid the conflict issue.

At last Monday's village board meeting, the decision to pass a liquor ordinance amendment to sync the local ordinance with the state changes was tabled. The issue, supported by outgoing Village President David Pope, would allow Oak Park to appoint an elected official other than the village president to serve as liquor commissioner.

In a Wednesday Journal One View written by Pope, he said the village law dates back to Oak Park's history as a "dry community," which lasted until a few decades ago. He said simple modifications updating this law should be approved.

"With state law now evolving to eliminate this requirement, I can't think of any other compelling reason to prevent a village president from having a liquor license," Pope wrote. "…(A change) would allow us to provide for the objective and responsible enforcement of our liquor ordinances while enabling Anan, the voters' choice for village president to move forward with the 99.999 percent of the critical elements of the job that have nothing to do with being the liquor commissioner."

Pope's letter focused on the need to move the issue forward, which he wrote "will enable our future board to best serve the interests of all of us."

The ordinance change will be on the village board's agenda at its meeting on Monday, May 6.

Contact:
Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

14 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

oakparker1984  

Posted: May 4th, 2013 9:51 AM

The agendas are an important step in the process, yes. What will speak volumes will be the number of voters who show up to make sure the Board carries through. We're looking at you, Ray.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 3rd, 2013 10:28 PM

Hopefully your right!

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 3rd, 2013 9:16 PM

Just saw both the agendas for Monday. Looks like Oak Park will be moving forward gracefully.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 11:01 PM

CDonovan - I still think it is early to call the vote. There has been a lot of board politics surrounding recent events. I do think the ordinance modification will be approved, but it could be a 4-3.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 10:58 PM

The flaw in the entire process was the county and village clerk certifying Anan submission of documentation showing that he was eligible to run for the presidency. The clerks check candidates credentials to run for office. Shouldn't they also check to see if a person candidacy would be a violation of an ordinance. It should not be the job of the candidate to research village laws. The first time the public became aware of a possible violation was a statement made Anan's opponent at a public debate in March 2013. Was there an expectation that Anan would withdraw from the race giving his opponent a free ride? Maybe. But he didn't drop out. Instead he won the seat. That is when the liquor license issue became a political storm. Senator Harmon stepped in to ensure that the voter's choice was honored. That's part of his job as a senator and as a resident of the village.

Cdonovan2  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 10:36 PM

Okay, the red herring of a state law is moot, now let's see if the board votes unanimously for the local ordinance. I'm thinking 5-2.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 10:24 PM

@Portia, What is the terrible precedent? That we change an out-of-date ordinance that no longer serves the community and needlessly discriminates against some residents? Anan ran for Village President, and people are focusing on the duties of Liquor Commissioner--which, by David Pope's calculations, is 1/1000 of a percent of the Village President's responsibilities? Clearly those responsibilities can be given to someone else, leaving Anan 99.999% to do as Village President.

dystOPia  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 10:05 PM

Let's see whether Ray Heise shows up to the May 6 board meeting. After his unsolicited public legal opinion and diatribe against Anan was published in the WJ (One View, March 12), it is clear he is not fit to provide legal counsel to the village, and his contract should terminated.

4 Freedom  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 9:59 PM

I am one for integrity, but I don't get the sense that's what your real problem is. Why? Because you haven't defended the specific law once. I personally think the whole situation highlights how lame the law truly is. Why should a law determine the president rather than people? As for a president from Chicago or Little Rock, sure if she's the best person for the job. How often is a person's location more important than their values and integrity?

OP Resident #561  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 9:50 PM

More sour grapes, please. I love the way they make the hinge of my jaw twang once in a while.

Rez  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 7:41 PM

Yes, lets change the law to suit the politicians. So what's new?

Portia from Oak Park  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 6:30 PM

I think that this is a terrible precedent. Someone who runs for elected office should meet all of the requirements for serving before running. Changes in law should not apply until the next election. Anan told the voters that he would respect the law, not that it would retroactively be changed for him. What laws will have to change next time? Could someone from Chicago be our next President? How about a Village employee as President? Noone should be above the law.

Chris Walsh from Oak Park  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 5:09 PM

The Governor stills needs to sign the bill, so we are not quite in a Done mode yet. But, assuming he does by Monday night, the table is set for an easy transition. Only debatable issue in my mind is whether we should have the Village Clerk serve as the Commissioner rather than having the Board appoint one of its own. Since the Clerk is an elected official, she would qualify to be the Commissioner under the state statute.

Tired of Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: May 2nd, 2013 5:00 PM

Good news. Now we can move on to more important matters.

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