Liquor Commissioner 101

Learning our lessons about liquor with (far left) Linda Soto, Mayor of Hainesville and (middle) Beverly Sussman, Village President of Buffalo Grove.

Learning our lessons about liquor with (far left) Linda Soto, Mayor of Hainesville and (middle) Beverly Sussman, Village President of Buffalo Grove.

Many people will be surprised to learn that being Village President also includes serving as the local Liquor Commissioner. While this might seem like a dream job to some (no, I do not get free drinks at our local bars!) it comes with some very real and serious responsibilities. To help me and my fellow mayors get a better understanding of this, Lake County recently held a seminar entitled “Liquor Commissioner 101.” ¬†On a Saturday morning in May, we went back to school at the College of Lake County and learned the finer points of the regulation of consumption and sale of alcohol in our communities. As the local ruling authority, the responsibility falls to me (with assistance from the Board of Trustees) to grant approval of new liquor and video gaming licenses, and to ensure that the current license holders are operating within the confines of the law. We were welcomed to the seminar by Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, who shared with us the sobering statistic that if a youth starts drinking before age 14, they have a 47% chance of becoming addicted later in life. State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim relayed to us that almost every arrest in Lake County the previous night was alcohol related. Student members of the Lake County Underage Drinking & Drug Prevention Task Force gave a presentation on the importance of compliance checks. Local liquor commissioners have the authority to initiate unannounced checkups at retail outlets and restaurants to see if proper measures are being followed to ensure that alcohol is not being made available to underage youth. I got to participate in a mock liquor commission hearing by playing the part of “Larry Liquor,” who turned out to be the Mayor, so it was a stretch! A staff member from the Health Department explained to us the training available to bartenders, clerks and wait staff through Lake County to encourage responsible and legal alcohol sales and service. Failure to do so can result in the Liquor Commissioner being able to issue fines, temporary or permanent loss of a liquor (and gaming) license, or possible conviction of selling to a minor. All of this is very heavy stuff, and makes me realize that this “bonus” job is not one to be taken lightly. I must say also, that the students are making me think seriously about some compliance checks sometime in the not too distant future. Fair warning…ditch those fake ID’s now, because this Liquor Commissioner is loaded…with knowledge!