Our View: Hearing officer a wise decision

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Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008

  • Bryna Larsen, publisher
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Eric Morris, community representative
  • Paul Draper, community representative

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The city has made positive strides during the past two years in its efforts to curb underage drinking and punish businesses that sell alcohol to minors. That effort took another step forward Monday when the Steamboat Springs City Council appointed attorney Jim Moylan as the Liquor License Authority's hearing officer.

Although the details are yet to be ironed out, it's anticipated that Moylan will preside over all hearings between the city and liquor license holders accused of not complying with the law. Not only will Moylan determine whether enough evidence exists to pursue the punishment phase of the city's liquor ordinance, he'll also determine what, if any, punishment should be handed down to those businesses.

It's a role that has been handled by the City Council since the adoption of a tougher liquor ordinance in fall 2005, but council members such as Cari Hermacinski have expressed a desire to delegate that authority to a separate commission or individual. Hermacinski has valid reasons for such a move.

The Colorado Municipal League recommends that elected officials reduce their risk of personal liability by focusing their "efforts on legislative and significant quasi-judicial decision-making," according to the League's "Public Officials Liability Handbook."

More important, by handing the role to Moylan, the council helps eliminate any perceptions of conflict of interest or bias when deciding the fates of local liquor license holders. To that end, Moylan is an ideal hearing officer.

Moylan has lived in Steamboat five years and has a lengthy background in litigation, arbitration and mediation in securities, commodity futures, civil litigation and general corporate law. He previously served as a hearing officer for the Illinois Securities Department. Moylan also has assumed several facilitation-related roles since moving to Steamboat. He is chairman of the Historic Preservation Policy Review Committee and formerly was chairman of the city's Community Support Money Steering Committee as well as vice chairman of the Growth Management Advisory Group.

While Moylan, at a rate of $200 an hour, will oversee the Liquor License Authority's compliance division, council members will continue to handle administrative tasks such as new liquor license applications. When necessary, city attorney Dan Foote will be retained as the city's prosecutor in liquor compliance cases. City Clerk Julie Jordan and Steamboat Springs police Capt. Joel Rae will continue to provide punishment recommendations to Moylan as part of the compliance division.

Finally, Moylan's appointment Monday was important for its timeliness. The Liquor License Authority has six alleged compliance violations to be heard. And regardless of the strides made by the city and local liquor license holders during the past two years - all 11 businesses passed a random compliance check in late April - it's essential the city continue to emphasize its commitment to enforcing the law and punishing violators.

Comments

424now 6 years, 7 months ago

It could keep City council out of the courtroom anyway.

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Kevin Nerney 6 years, 7 months ago

What courtroom is that 42? the quasi-judical one?

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424now 6 years, 7 months ago

Well hello Kevin,

It was you in particular that I had in mind when I posted that last comment. I find the councils treatment of your situation to be at best irresponsible bordering on a witch hunt.

I hope you can find away to get them off your back.

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