Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Monday, November 27, 2017
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Monday, November 20, 2017
|LONG TIME ABC BOARD MEMBER MICKEY POWELL GIVES INSTRUCTIONS TO NEWLY APPOINTED CHAIRMAN FREDDIE BLACK AT THE NOVEMBER BOARD MEETING. BLACK IS THE THIRD CHAIRMAN OF THIS BOARD DURING THE HUTCHINSON ADMINISTRATION.|
Newly appointed Alcoholic Beverage Control Board chairman Freddie Black must have taken a peek at our post about his appointment.
Black actually stated that his first appearance as chairman might be his last.
If not for the experience of long-time ABC Board member Mickey Powell, the ABC Board would be like an amoeba in a swimming pool and they might still be sitting at the table a week later.
Powell, a former board chairman himself, relocated from his position at the end of the table were he was relegated by the two previous Hutchinson appointed board chair's to the one next to Black and was overheard giving him instructions.
|POWELL(left) IMPARTS WORDS OF WISDOM TO THE NEW ABC BOARD CHAIRMAN FREDDIE BLACK|
Black floundered each time he swore a witness in and seemed to be amazed that he was asked to serve as chairman by his pal Asa.
AS you can see in the video, it appeared that Black was chewing his cud or a wad of gum most of the meeting.
Most of the chit-chat he made with other board members was about deer hunting.
Black was not the only ABC staffer to have some issues with the process.
Fresh from a stint with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, newly hired staff attorney Deanna Ray, was lacking in knowledge of ABC rules and regulations.
|DEANNA RAY - ABC STAFF ATTORNEY|
The monthly board meeting concluded rather swiftly and that was a good thing.
TV stations were there to cover the permit for Searcy restaurant El Amacen that Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Alice Gray tossed back to the board.
Stephen Morely, the attorney for El Amacen, obtained what was probably his fastest decision from and ABC Board when he called ABC Enforcement Agent Shebly Clark, who like to use his former rank from the Arkansas State Police, as a witness.
|ABC ENFORCEMENT AGENT CPL SHELBY CLARK - ALSO A REALTOR IN WYNNE, AR IN HIS SPARE TIME|
Clark caused the restaurant to be denied a permit months earlier when he made an "executive decision" to bend ABC rules and regulations.
Attorney Moerly introduced an affidavit from Agent Cpl. Clark into evidence and the board quickly voted to approve the permit.
ABC Administration Director Mary Robin Casteel has been noticeably absent from the board meetings and maybe she should be there to help the attorneys hired to fill her shoes get a grip on things.
We can't wait to see what happens at the December board meeting.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
|FREDDIE BLACK - NEWLY APPOINTED ABC BOARD CHAIRMAN|
Governor Asa Hutchinson has appointed Freddie Black, a banker from Lake Village, to replace Dan Greenberg as ABC Board Chairman.
He may be out of his comfort zone as he is not an attorney and will have to rely on the legal acumen of the new ABC staff attorney, Michael Nelon Harry, who does not appear to be the sharpest tool in the shed (he mistook the word "get" for "bet" in a recent board meeting) to guide him.
Black has served previously on other state boards and will be the third ABC Board Chairman in the Hutchinson Administration.
You will not want to miss his inaugural meeting tomorrow as he will be introduced to attorney Stephen Morley as he gets to pound the board for their foolish decision to deny a permit to El Almacen in Searcy.
|ATTORNEY STEPHEN MORLEY - RACKS UP ANOTHER WIN AGAINST THE ABC BOARD|
No doubt Morley will be able to secure a permit for El Amacen, in this court ordered re-do, as the reason that they were originally denied was that an ABC Enforcement Agent instructed them to violate ABC Rules and Regulations and place a notice away from the front entrance.
After this board meeting, Gov. Hutchinson may be looking for a replacement for Black.
Monday, November 13, 2017
|DID AN ABC "UNDERCOVER MINOR" USE A FAKE ID IN AN ILLEGAL COMPLIANCE OPERATION?|
We have exposed the illegal use of underage individuals by ABC Enforcement Agents and other Arkansas law enforcement agencies in several posts on this blog.
As previously mentioned, Arkansas law specifically prohibits an underage individual from attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages and has no exception for an underage individual working with law enforcement agencies in entrapment/compliance operations.
Courts have long held that the primary rule of statutory construction is to give effect to the intent of the legislature. The courts construe the statue just as it reads, giving words their ordinary and usually accepted meaning in common language. When the language of a statute is plan and unambiguous. The case often cited is Snowden v. JRE Invs., Inc., 2010 Ark. 276,370 S.W.3d 215.
For us regular folks and how that applies to this post, is that the use of underage individuals in alcohol compliance operations is illegal. Period.
Secondly, the ABC and other law enforcement agencies issue citations to stores, bars and clubs that serve the underage individuals that are taking part in the illegal operations stating that the store, bar or club violated Arkansas Code Annotated § 3-3-201, Unknowingly serving alcohol to a minor.
The problem with using that particular statute is that it specifically uses the word "minor".
Arkansas has a statute that defines "minor". Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-25-101 clearly and unequivocally states that all persons of the age of eighteen years shall be considered to have reached the age of majority. So a minor is any individual under eighteen years of age.
ABC Enforcement and Arkansas law enforcement agencies frequently use underage adults (individuals 18 years and older) in their illegal alcohol compliance operations. Issuing citations citing A.C.A. § 3-3-201, a statute in which the language is plan and unambiguous, and which only states that a sale to minor is a violation. This statute cannot be used for citing sales of alcoholic beverages to persons that have reached eighteen years of age and are legal adults, albeit underage adults, yet the ABC cites it regularly when issuing tickets.
A week or so ago, we received an email from an individual that had been ticketed in one of the ABC's illegal compliance operations. This individual asserts that the ID presented by an underage operative actually listed a birth date that would have made the holder of age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages.
We sent a FOI request to the ABC over a week ago and have yet to receive a response.
As tainted ABC Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet is so lacking in experience and law enforcement credentials, its no wonder that his agents fail to follow the laws of the state as he leads by example and is an admitted law breaker himself.
Stay tuned for updates.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Friday, November 3, 2017
|ABC CONTROL BOARD CHAIRMAN DAN GREENBERG|
According to our friends at the Arkansas Times, ABC Control Board chairman Dan Greenberg is quitting to take a position with the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C.
Greenberg started out as a breath of fresh air after the departure of the previous board chairwoman Janet Moore, but soon soured in that role.
No doubt the Governor's will find another stooge to fill the role.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Monday, October 23, 2017
The ABC Board at their October meeting upheld the ABC Administrative Director's decision that two NW Arkansas outlets had gambling devices and issued fine and suspension of permits.
Our course these two outlets are operated by minority individuals, a frequent target of ABC fines and suspensions and denial of permit applications.
Both outlets were represent by attorney Stephen Morley.
As Morley and his witnesses explained, there is no gambling activity or gaming devices in either store. What these stores are doing is similar to what McDonald's does with their Monopoly Game.
Or what automobile dealerships use.
These are gimmicks designed to drawn customers in.
A Springdale police officer testified that he purchased a phone card and received "extra entries" into the sweepstakes. He had received a receipt but did not offer it as evidence, claiming it was in the evidence room back at Springdale PD.
Morley had an exemplar of a receipt and it became clear why the Springdale Police Officer did not bring that receipt.
Morley showed that the receipt clearly had "Free Sweepstakes" on it and it showed that the officer had purchased a phone card and with that purchase he received some additional plays in the free sweepstakes as a product promotion.
ABC Board chairman Dan Greenberg had a great deal of difficulty understanding that a physical phone card was not issued, just a receipts and pass-code used to make phone calls.
Testimony was subsequently offered that the phone card companies as a general practice no longer issue an actual card.
The officer then testified that the Springdale Police Department turned the matter over to the Washington County Prosecuting Attorney who declined to file any charges against the outlets.
That should have been a big red flag for the ABC.
But you have to remember that ABC Enforcement is headed up by an admitted liar - Boyce Hamlet - who was fired by the Arkansas State Police for cheating on an exam and then lying multiple times to ASP Special Investigators. Hamlet then filed false job applications with other law enforcement agencies that hid his hiring and firing by the ASP to obtain jobs in law enforcement that he would not have been able to obtain had he told the truth.
Testimony was introduced that this sweepstakes had been approved by the ABC under former director Michael Langley and it had operated in NWA for several years. ABC Enforcement agents had been in the outlets many times over the years and never issued any citations for the sweepstakes.
Langley had popped in the hearing room, but upon hearing his name mentioned quickly rushed out.
The company that operates the sweepstakes testified and presented evidence that clearly explained how the sweepstakes worked and how it generates business and return customers for stores. A couple of the brighter board members appeared to understand. For the others it was like trying to explain rocket science to an imbecile.
It was clear from the nature of the hearing that ABC Board chairman Greenberg wanted to uphold the ABC Director's decision and force the outlet owner to file an appeal of the decision in Circuit Court.
|ABC BOARD CHAIRMAN DAN GREENBERG|
As it has happened in the past and as it no doubt will with these cases, Attorney Morley will win the appeals and the outlets will not owe a dime in fines or have to suffer a probation period and get payment for all legal fees and costs.
A humorous moment happened in the first hearing when newly ABC attorney
Michael Nelon Harry thought the exemplar receipt had the word, "bet" on it. Turns out the word was actually "get."
Michael Nelon Harry thought the exemplar receipt had the word, "bet" on it. Turns out the word was actually "get."
Another humorous moment involving the ABC attorney was when he entered the room. He is either color blind or has an extremely poor fashion sense.
His shirt (purple checked) and tie (green plaid) were terribly mismatched.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Monday, October 9, 2017
ABC CONTROL BOARD IN A PICKLE OVER DENIAL OF PERMIT TO SEARCY RESTAURANT - DECISION REEKS OF DISCRIMINATION
|EL ALMACEN - A VICTIM OF DISCRIMINATION BY THE ABC BOARD|
We previously posted about the blatant discrimination the ABC Board displayed in their denial of a permit to El Almacen in Searcy. You can read those posts by clicking here and here.
The restaurant has filed an appeal in Pulaski County Circuit Court and is represented by crackerjack attorney Stephen Morley, who rarely loses any case before the ABC Board or in an administrative appeal.
|ATTORNEY STEPHEN MOREL|
Their Petition for Judicial Review can be viewed by clicking here. Their Motion for Remand can be viewed by clicking here.
The ABC is represented by their new attorney, Michael Nelon Harry.
The ABC's response can be viewed by clicking here.
Apparently Harry left the law firm of Rieves, Rubens & Mayton for a steady, predictable income from a public agency like that of his older wife, Jessica Runkle Harry, a Victim Assistance Coordinator in the Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
|JENNIFER RUNKLE HARRY AND HER YOUNGER HUBBY MICHAEL NELON HARRY AT OAKLAWN|
El Almacen was denied a license during an appeal hearing before the ABC board on August 16. 2017 based on the placement of the required notice on the establishment to inform the public of its intent to pursue private club status, which would allow alcohol by the glass to be served with a meal to members of the club.
The ruling stated, "Based upon all the testimony and evidence discussed and findings of fact above; the board concludes that the application of Alisha Jones for a private club permit for El Almacen should be denied because the requirements of Section 1.26: Notice To Be Posted At Premises were not followed, and that the same should be denied."
On the same day, the board approved an application for another Searcy restaurant, the Rock House, which is currently serving wine and beer by the glass.
The Rock House's ABC hearing revealed that its notice was placed in a similar location as El Almacen's inside the entrance; however, on record was an ABC employee who admitted to directing the restaurant exactly where to put the notice.
After the decision, board Chairman Daniel Greenberg said he would consider revisiting El Almacen's application at the next board meeting if the recording of the hearing confirmed that a similar statement had been made by Jones on being told where to place the notice.
On September 20, 2017 after Colton's Steakhouse was granted a permit by the ABC board, it voted to not revisit El Almacen's application -- even though Greenberg was in favor of giving the restaurant a second hearing.
In El Almacen's plea to the court, it contends that it believes the ABC board did not realize when making its decision not to readdress the matter that an affidavit from an ABC employee exists that confirms restaurant employees were directed by the employee on where to place the notice.
According to the affidavit, sworn by ABC enforcement agent Shelby Clark, Clark went to the restaurant at 1805 E. Race Ave. on May 8, 2017 to confirm the posting of the required notice and directed where to place it, because the front door was not an option for various reasons.
"We discussed the best place for the notice. There is no awning, porch or other cover over the front door, and we were concerned that the cardboard notice would be damaged if it were placed at that location; and that the cardboard notice might not last 30 days," the affidavit stated. "There was also a concern about whether or not the notice could be placed on the door in such a manner so as not to damage the door."
The notice ended up being placed on a window to the left of the front door, which was within about 10 feet of the front door, Clark said in the affidavit.
Agent Clark took these two photographs of the applicants and her notice.
|JONES AND HER NOTICE AT EL ALMACEN - PHOTO TAKEN BY AGENT CLARK|
El Almacen was the only one of the three Searcy restaurants denied by the board after applying for licenses this year before a new law went into effect.
The law passed by the General Assembly in April sends private club applicants to the city or county government in which a restaurant wishes to obtain a license before getting passed along to the ABC. A city council or a quorum court will review the request, and if it is approved then the application would be directed to the ABC.