Breck debates liquor licenses
BRECKENRIDGE – Four of Breckenridge’s seven town council members hold an interest of some sort in restaurants with liquor licenses, leaving too few members to approve or deny liquor licenses.
Mayor Sam Mamula’s son, Eric, owns Downstairs at Eric’s.
J.B. Katz is a dining room manager at Fatty’s Pizzeria.
Ernie Blake has a business arrangement with John Daisy, the owner of Fatty’s.
And Michael Bertaux works for Vail Resorts, which has a variety of restaurants and bars in its portfolio.
That leaves Dave Hinton, Larry Crispell and Jim Lamb to decide if an applicant can have a liquor license – and the council is wondering if that was fair to the community and the applicant.
Typically, if council members have a conflict of interest with a liquor license application, they’ll excuse themselves from discussion and voting on that license. And Breckenridge council members divulge the remotest possibilities – even going as far as to say, as did Crispell, that he is a stockholder in a holding company that has stock in the Breckenridge Brewery.
They don’t, however, think the lack of a quorum will prevent them from doing their jobs fairly in deciding whether to grant a license. And they’re keenly aware that while, in their opinions, they can fairly debate an application, they don’t want the public to develop the perception that they can’t.
“I think we can be fair and impartial,” said Hinton, who works at Similisan, a homeopathic medical supply company. “I just think the appearance won’t be fair and impartial.”
Earlier this month, council members debated if they should create a liquor board to evaluate applications, but decided that boards can take an inordinate amount of time in those evaluations.
They also debated whether Bertaux, a lift operator at Breckenridge Ski Resort, is far enough removed from the interests in the company’s bars and restaurants to remove his potential conflict of interest. He was not in attendance at that worksession March 11.
Council members said they thought he shouldn’t have a conflict, but didn’t want to put him in that position.
“The last thing I want to do is cheat the public or make them feel like they’re being cheated,” Katz said. “But this puts Michael in an uncomfortable position.”
“The ski area owns the (commercial businesses) at the Village at Breckenridge,” Mamula said. “And the Village at Breck owns several bars. I wouldn’t want him making a decision about his employer’s future.”
He added that, although he is no longer a partner in his son’s business, he still has a problem.
“He’s my son,” Mamula said. “I don’t want people having to say, “I don’t want you up there because he’s your son.'”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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