By Sam Poe
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 | 11:07 AM
The Haleyville City Council met Tuesday morning to consider a revocation hearing for the business license for the sale of alcohol for 2013 for Captain Dave's. Councilmen Royce Benefield and Bud Wilson were absent.
The meeting opened with Jeff Mobley, city attorney, stating the complaints against Captain Dave's and the owner, Dave Alexander. He also called witnesses to explain each of the citations. Mobley explained to the council that there have been issues with the business license being posted, as required by the city. There are also questions regarding the 60/40 rule regarding the sale of food/alcohol.
First, Sergeant Johnathan Winters with the Alabama ABC Board testified. He stated that he has completed administrative inspections and issued multiple citations to Mr. Alexander. He stated that to his knowledge, Mr. Alexander was issued one warning and three citations from the ABC board. The warning was issued in November 2012 for operating other than licensed. At this time, Mr. Alexander had closed Captain Dave's for a period of about two months. However, he was caught hosting a private party for an individual inside the business. This is not allowed when the business is not open to the public. Sgt. Winters stated that Mr. Alexander was not aware that he could not host a party on the premises and fully cooperated with his requests. Therefore, he issued a warning for the offense. The first citation was issued in July 2011 when a waitress served alcohol to a minor. The minor was working with the ABC Board, and she did not check identification before serving the liquor. Then, he was issued another citation for failure to maintain proper records and receipts on the premises. Mr. Alexander was missing receipts from the purchase of alcohol for the business. There was also alcohol that could not be accounted for that had been purchased. It is perfectly legal for the owner to take alcohol away from the business (for things such as personal consumption) as long as documentation is present to account for the property. Sgt. Winters stated that these violations do not meet the requirements for revocation of the state license. However, the ABC Board is not there to enforce the city ordinance, and those rules must be enforced by the Haleyville Police Department.
Next, Officer Proctor of the Alabama ABC Board testified about his interactions with Captain Dave's. Proctor stated he had also issued a citation to Mr. Alexander. However, he did not have the documentation with him at the hearing and was not able to testify to the nature of the citation. Proctor stated he had also presented a document to Mr. Alexander from the Alabama Department of Revenue that contests the renewal of business license due to taxes owed in the amount of $2,450 as of May 16, 2013. Mr. Alexander stated he has entered a payment plan and will have those taxes paid by the last day of July.
Then, Officer Eddie Collins of the Haleyville Police Department testified concerning a citation he issued for breaking the city's alcohol ordinance. Collins stated the citation was issued in June 2013 for serving alcohol after midnight. He stated he had also warned Mr. Alexander about this in July 2012 because Mr. Alexander was under the impression that people could continue to drink, as long as the alcohol was purchased before midnight. Collins stated that customers were buying buckets of beer before midnight and continued to drink for a couple of hours, in some cases. Collins stated he explained all alcohol must be purchased and consumed before midnight, according to the Haleyville ordinance. Collins stated when he entered the business on the date of the citation, there were beer bottles on several tables that were over half full. Mr. Alexander was present and was at the karaoke machine singing. This citation is set for review in city court on July 25.
Finally, Debra Hood, city clerk, testified regarding sales taxes owed to the city dating back to 2010. Hood stated she has been notified by RDS that Mr. Alexander owes $797.09 in sales tax that has not been paid. There was also an issue with the business license, however, that had been cleared up prior to the meeting. Hood also stated RDS does not have a copy of the property insurance and alcohol bond for Captain Dave's. Mr. Alexander had told the company he would fax the documents, but they had not been provided by the time of the meeting.
Upon closure of Mobley's presentation, Mr. Alexander was given an opportunity to present his side of the issues. Alexander first stated there is an issue with the classification of his business license. After discussion on the matter, it will be reviewed and corrected if needed, but this issue has no bearing on the citations. This violation also concerns the balance of alcohol and food sales. However, Alexander states he is open five days per week, and his primary sales is food. Alexander also stated his business license is posted by the door and always has been. Alexander also stated that he has all of the required insurance and had faxed it to RDS twice. He then had the forms faxed to the Haleyville City Hall for review during the meeting, but the documents were never received.
Next, Alexander talked about the citation for making sales to minors. He stated the waitress who made the sale is still employed with him. He said she is a great waitress who just made a mistake. He also stated she paid the fine from her personal funds because of her mistake.
Regarding the sale of alcohol after midnight, Alexander stated there were two empty bottles sitting on tables. However, no one was drinking them. He also stated that when Officer Collins entered the restaurant, he did not speak to anyone but only sat down and began preparing the citation. He also stated he has six witnesses who will testify to back up his story. He also stated that he has payment plans on all back taxes and is trying to get them handled as soon as possible.
Finally, Mr. Alexander expressed concerns about officers from the Haleyville Police Department being in and/or around his business so often. Alexander expressed concerns of customers not going to his establishment because of an increased presence outside the restaurant. However, he did not give any specific examples of when this had occurred. He also stated officers seem to enter his business at two or three minutes after midnight on weekend nights, which does not always allow his staff to have the liquor removed from tables due to counting down the drawer for the night. Alexander also complained that several officers in camouflage had "stormed" his garage on his personal property one night. He stated they were looking for underage drinkers and had even entered his home without a warrant. When questioned by the council, Alexander did not specify a date and was not able to identify the officers who were involved in this act. He also stated he never reported the act when it occurred. When further questioned by Councilman Bittinger, Alexander stated Officer Eddie Collins and Sgt. Jason Williams are the HPD officers who seem to be the most active when he is involved. He did not claim harassment from the officers but did question why they seem to be around so often. However, he was not able to give any details about times when the officers were present without a legitimate reason to be there for law enforcement purposes.
Because the insurance documents were never received, Mobley urged the council to leave the file open for those documents only. The council agreed to vote on an action on this case at the next regularly scheduled city council meeting or during a special called meeting prior to that time if needed. Only the council members who were present for the hearing will be allowed to vote on the matter.