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Saturday, April 28, 2012

IOWA - City takes step toward bottle club ordinance

Kurt Allemeier
The Quad-City Times
A motorcycle club member who thinks his group is being unfairly targeted by a proposal to regulate after-hour social, or bottle, clubs spoke out Wednesday as the Davenport City Council approved its first reading of the potential ordinance.
Steve Allen said the Thunder Guard Motorcycle Club has done a lot of good for himself and tries to help the community, recently hosting an Easter egg hunt. The vote came only four days after a shooting outside the group’s clubhouse that left one man injured.
“We’re just a minority club that is doing what other clubs have been doing for years,” Allen said. “This club has helped me considerably.”
The ordinance must pass three votes. An effort by Alderman Bill Boom, 3rd Ward, to suspend the rules and immediately pass the ordinance on second and third votes failed 6-4. That motion required a super-majority vote of seven for approval.
Alderman Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward, pointed out that the council approved a proclamation earlier in the meeting for National End Racial Profiling Advocacy Week. Ambrose, along with aldermen Nathan Brown, 1st Ward, Jeff Justin, 6th Ward, and Mike Matson, 8th Ward, voted against suspending the rules.
Taking note of the violence and this past weekend’s shooting at the Thunder Guard clubhouse, Boom and Alderman Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward, said they were disappointed that the ordinance was not taken care of in one meeting.
“I just hope between now and the next time we vote on this there isn’t another shooting,” Boom said. “If someone was hit or killed, we’d feel awful.”
In a presentation at the council’s April 18 committee-of-the-whole session, Police Chief Frank Donchez told aldermen the Thunder Guard clubhouse had been the source of 15 calls for service since Jan. 1. The calls included two for verified shots fired, 10 disturbances, two hit-and-run accidents and one assault. That did not include the shooting that occurred at 3:30 a.m. Sunday.
Early Sunday, police heard gunshots and saw several vehicles leaving the Thunder Guard clubhouse at 801 W. 4th St. Officers stopped a car in the 1400 block of Cedar Street and saw it had been hit by gunfire. The driver and occupants were taken into custody.
About 10 minutes after the reported gunshots, a man entered the Genesis Medical Center-East Rusholme Street campus with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. Officers determined that it had occurred during the incident at the Thunder Guard club’s parking lot. No one has been charged in the shooting.
Boom said he is likely to ask to suspend the rules again at the next ordinance reading during the council’s May 9 meeting.
Allen, who said he is a member of the club, said that weapons and purses are not allowed inside the clubhouse. The club hold events to raise money for trips such as one planned for South Carolina.
He told the council he did not know what happened outside the building, saying he did not hear anything. The club is open to suggestions on how to make their clubhouse safer, he added.
The after-hours social club ordinance would require a bottle club license to be obtained and for information about the club, its operator and members to be shared with the city. It also would require dram shop insurance, prohibit minors from the premises and meet police requests for security lighting and cameras.
Such clubs stretch police resources in the early-morning hours between 2 and 7 a.m., city attorney Tom Warner told the council.
“It doesn’t put them out of business,” he said. “It places regulations on them.”
In other action, the council voted to extend City Administrator Craig Malin’s contract at the same salary through June 30, 2015.
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