Mayor Becker cast the deciding vote Tuesday night to screw over the owner of a new convenience store on Douglas Avenue. OK, that's a little strong. But it's accurate.
Steve Grebe jumped through several hoops to get his Rapids Drive Convenience store up to City Council standard. He expanded the business, installed technology to prevent underage alcohol sales and enhanced security at the site. But it wasn't enough to convince a majority of the council to take his side. His liquor license failed on a 7-7 vote with Becker casting the deciding vote against the license. Grebe can't come back to the council for a new permit for 11 months.
Let me jump in with some commentary here. I realize the city's desire to cut down on places that sell alcohol. It's a noble gesture, and probably for the better. But Alderman Sandy Weidner, who led opposition to the proposal, herself pointed out that nine other businesses near Grebe's convenience store sell alcohol. So what's one more? Is this really going to deter anyone in the surrounding area from drinking? Hardly. If Grebe's technology is as good as it claims - cash registers won't work until a legal ID is scanned - it could even make places that sell to under-agers stand out.
The council's decision puts Grebe at a competitive disadvantage. After the meeting, Grebe said he was "severely disappointed" in the decision. When asked if he still planned to open, Grebe declined comment.
There's a cautionary tale here. Aldermen said in discussions that Grebe was warned he may not get the permit. He took a chance and lost - by a single vote.