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Lawsuit puts liquor commission in spotlight

4 April 2011 RS 47 Comments

Did the liquor commission treat the Nances differently because of their race? Did the liquor commission treat the Nances differently because of their race? (Photo by The Elginite).

Few Elgin residents know that the landscape of local entertainment options is decided by just three people: the mayor and two councilmen he picks. They decide if a bar, club or restaurant can open, and they can shut it down. Anthony and Bettie Nance say that the Schock liquor commission shut down their jazz club because they’re African-American. Did the heavy losses at the newly-opened Centre of Elgin have to do with the liquor commission’s decision to shut down Anthony’s Jazz Club, which never had a single arrest and yet was described as a “public nuisance?” Mayoral candidate Dave Kaptain wants to reform the liquor commission, removing the mayor’s power of appointment and giving power to the entire city council.

Longtime residents know that businesses in Downtown Elgin have come and gone over the years. Elgin and in particular Downtown Elgin is a challenging business environment, and in most cases, the restaurant or bar failed because the market was not there for what they offered or they did not run their businesses well enough to succeed. One case, however, stands out. Rather than failing for business reasons, this establishment was shut down by the city’s liquor commission, chaired by Mayor Ed Schock, less than two years after it opened ostensibly for being a “public nuisance.”

Anthony and Betty Nance are the picture of a middle class American family. They have lived for years in the Cobbler’s Crossing subdivision on the city’s east side, where they raised two boys. One is now in college and one is in high school. Bettie worked for an insurance company then and still does today. Anthony was a software tester for an IT company in Buffalo Grove. In his spare time, he coaches kids sports. Like many families, they dreamed of starting a business. Anthony is a lifelong fan of jazz, and a jazz club seemed like the perfect fit. They saved for 15 years to start their business. They invested $150,000 and months of their labor to have it open.

They opened Anthony ’s Restaurant and Jazz Club in April 2003 at the location of what is now the Douglas Street Bar & Grill, just a stone’s throw away from both the Elgin Police Department and the Centre of Elgin, which had celebrated its own grand opening just months earlier. The Nances operated their business without incident until December of that year, when, according to court documents, fifteen squad cars showed up (news reports of the time said it was eight cars) one night near closing time.

From the beginning, the Nances sought what they described as a mature audience. They enforced a strict dress code, and even banned smoking. On this night in particular, the audience was mostly middle-aged people, 40-50 years old. This large crowd had come out to see Herb Kent, then 75 years old, a renowned Chicago radio personality and master of the African-American dance form known as stepping. There was no trouble at the club, and nobody had called police.

For the African-American patrons at the club that night, the large police presence, which included police dogs, was a bitter reminder of the civil rights struggle. Some patrons showed up at the next city council meeting to complain about the excessive show of force. “We resent the presumption that black people cannot come together and have a peaceful event,” one said.

In time, the Nances say, the police would give them several explanations. Initially,the explanation was that somebody called for help. But the Nances say there is no record of such a call having been made, and the last explanation they received from the city was that “the officers self-dispatched” by mistake.

The next June, however, an actual incident occurred. A crowd lingered outside after closing time, and somebody for unknown reasons started firing shots, injuring three people in the legs and buttocks. Police were on the scene at the time, but were unable to identify the perpetrator. They later arrested somebody in another part of town but were not able to establish that he was responsible for the shooting. The incident raised hackles at City Hall, and the Nances agreed to pay for a police officer to be at the club. In October, the city claimed that it had recorded ten violations of city code in a one-year period, which was sufficient for any number of punitive measures including revocation of the liquor license.

In December, the Nances agreed to a Stipulation and Agreed Order, under which the club could be closed if even one fight or other incident happened between then and April 2005. Four days after they signed the agreement, police witnessed two or three fights at the bar–two of which apparently involved the same person, and the city’s liquor commission revoked their license.

The Nances believe that they were treated differently from the beginning. Instead of the regular Class A liquor license they asked for, the city custom-drafted a license just for them. They say that the city lawyer assigned to the liquor commission, Rick Kozal, admitted at some point that it was meant to give the city more control over their operations. The city has in fact made custom liquor licenses for other establishments, however. One unusual one was the Class A-1 license given to The Martini Room which prohibited it from selling cheap beer.

But under their license, the Martini Room is not required to sell food. This was a major issue for the Nances, who were looking to open a jazz club not a restaurant. Including a restaurant meant a significantly higher investment in building a kitchen and also introduced more risks to their business. But when they met with Mayor Ed Schock, who is also the chairman of the liquor commission, he told them that the city was out of Class A licenses and that they would have to accept a license that required them to open a restaurant as part of their establishment.

A year after the Nances opened their club, Martini Room was granted their A-1 license. The Nances later asked Mr. Kozal why Martini Room was granted a license that did not require a restaurant. According to the Nances, Mr. Kozal said simply that the liquor commission had changed its mind about requiring new places to serve food.

The Nances thought this was unfair. They also took contention with the ten violations that the Schock liquor commission alleged as its grounds for the revocation of their license. The Nances believe that the liquor commission sought to shut them down and then looked for reasons to justify it. They pointed to the ten alleged violations, some of which they say are completely false, some dubious and the rest not serious enough to justify the revocation of their license.

Among the alleged violations, the liquor commission accused the Nances of staying open later than 2am. The Nances say the city had to throw out that claim when all they could show was someone entering the club at 1:58. The liquor commission also claimed that the Nances rented out their club to a minor. The Nances say it never happened, and the city, showing no proof, had to throw out that claim as well. Another one of the violations the city cited was that the club allowed patrons to drink outside. The Nances say that was one incident where a young woman went outside to the front doors to smoke (Anthony’s was a non-smoking establishment) and she had taken a drink with her. Anthony’s employees did not notice that she did so, but a police officer saw her, wrote down her name but did not issue a ticket. The Nances say that once you throw out all the dubious and minor complaints, what remains are, “just a few fights, that’s all.”

And the fights that did happen were never serious enough to warrant a single arrest. Not a single arrest was ever made at Anthony’s.

But what about the incident with the gunshots? The police were there when it happened, but they arrested nobody there. The Nances have always said that they did the best they could do that night. Before the shooting happened, and the crowd had not dispersed, they asked the police officers who were standing by watching to help them clear out the area. The Nances say that the police did not want to cooperate because of the previous incident on the night of the Herb Kent show, and preferred to let the crowd dissipate by itself.

The Nances also say that it’s not right that they should be blamed for the shooting, because it did not even happen on their lot. They say they do not know if the person responsible for the shooting came from Anthony’s or from the Foxhole or someplace else. The Foxhole (now the Afterset) was located just yards away from Anthony’s. But because Anthony’s has a parking lot, according to city rules, they are responsible not just for their lot, but the entire vicinity, the Nances say. They point out that places like the Mission are not held responsible for the fights that break out in the city-owned parking lot across the street. It’s unfair, they say.

The Nances believe that the Schock liquor commission sought to shut them down because their clientele was mostly African-American. They say that when they met with Mr. Schock after the June shooting incident, he used the term “those people” to describe their patrons and accused them of suppressing attendance at the downtown recreation center, the Centre of Elgin.

Convinced that the city’s liquor commission overstepped its bounds, the Nances appealed to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, which four months later restored their license, saying the city acted unreasonably by revoking rather than suspending the license.

A month earlier the state liquor commission had sharply criticized the city for not giving the Nances a fair hearing:

Elgin city attorney Rick Kozal confirmed that the Nances signed a waiver and did not have legal representation during either hearing in Elgin .

Irving Koppel, chairman of the state liquor commission, read part of the statute, then ripped into Kozal .

“I want to address this, I’m really hot on this,” Koppel said. “Frankly, it’s unfair. To me, it’s a complete avoidance of due process.” (Daily Herald – March 10, 2005)

The Nances say that Mr. Kozal repeatedly lied to them, intimidated and coerced them. They say at one point he even insinuated that they were being investigated by a grand jury for their alleged role in the June 4th shooting. They later found out that there was never a grand jury, and they dismiss the idea that anybody could find them in the least criminally responsible for what happened that night.

The Nances say that they considered hiring a lawyer and going before a public hearing of the Schock liquor commission, but Mr. Kozal threatened the revocation of their license if they did so. So the Nances signed one agreement after another without legal representation. At the end, they felt that they were forced to signed an agreement that would have shut down any club. Afterall, fights happen. The last agreement stipulated that even a single incident would be grounds for revocation. It only took four days to meet that requirement.

Mr. Kozal, according to the Nances, “did all the dirty work” for the Schock liquor commission, which at that time was made up of Mr. Schock, Councilman Bob Gilliam and Councilman John Walters. The Nances describe Mr. Walters as honest. But Mr. Schock, is a liar, they say. And in their eyes, Bob Gilliam is somebody who cannot be trusted either. They say he is, “somebody who is not out for the interest of others.”

The ruling from the Illinois liquor commission came too late for the Nances, who had to file for bankruptcy. They never re-opened the doors. In 2006, they sued the city in federal court for violating their civil rights.

When the case went to trial in November of last year, the city placed as its representative or “key witness” at the lawyer’s table, for the 9 day duration of the trial, Bob Gilliam, the lone black member of the city council and liquor commission. Even though the Nances say they had minimal interaction with him in their dealings with the liquor commission, he sat with the three lawyers at the table assigned to the defense. The Nances say they were outgunned by a team of the “best lawyers tax money can buy.” The Nances had just one lawyer. They hoped to have one black juror, but the defense used a peremptory challenge to remove that person from the pool. According to the Nances, the jury ended up being all white except for one Hispanic woman, a lawyer who said she was coming to start a job in Elgin.

It took the jury one hour to come back, deciding in favor of the city.

The Nances say their case was hurt by the fact that they were not allowed to present evidence showing more severe incidents happening at other Elgin establishments. The court allowed as evidence only the incidents that were forwarded to the liquor commission.

Ostensibly the city has a “10-strikes” rule:

The city keeps track of incidents of criminal activity at the facilities of Elgin liquor licensees, said Elgin assistant corporation counsel Rick Kozal.

“When there are 10 incidents, we will file a complaint against them,” Kozal said. (Elgin Courier News 4/6/2005)

However, a February 2007 news story about the Afterset bar showed that a full 34 arrests were made there in the year 2006. Police were called to that bar, which coincidentally is just yards away from where Anthony’s was located, 100 times that year, with a resulting 33 police reports and 34 arrests. They were not called to appear before the liquor commission until February 2007. And even in that case, city officials asked why other bars were not called before the liquor commission:

” Azteca [de Oro], Jalapeno’s, The Mission – they are all close,” noted liquor Commissioner John Walters, also a city councilman.

City Manager Femi Folarin asked why the police were focusing on The Afterset, which had fewer nuisance calls than another bar. (Courier News - February 4, 2007)

The Nances have always stated that they were treated differently and the evidence bears them out. There are no records of any arrests at Anthony’s Restaurant and Jazz Club. Not a single arrest. Afterset had 34 arrests in 2006 alone. They’re still there today. There were people shot to death at JB’s and a teenager was found beaten to death outside Azteca de Oro in 2005. Those places are still there today.

So what made Anthony’s so different? Why did the Schock liquor commision treat Anthony’s differently?

In another part of town, at another time, things possibly would have turned out differently for the Nances. It seems like just maybe they chose the wrong place in Elgin and the wrong time to open their jazz club.

Just four months before Anthony’s opened, city leaders cut the ribbon for the Centre of Elgin, which opened its doors on December 7, 2002. The Centre is across the street from where Anthony’s was located. All the members of the liquor commission–made up of the mayor and two councilmen–voted to build the Centre. They said it would pay for itself. Mr. Schock in particular staked his prestige on the success of the $41M Centre. He campaigned on it in the 1999 election in which he unseated the incumbent mayor Kevin Kelly.

At about the same time that the Nances say they had a conversation in which Mr. Shock said “those people” were affecting attendance at the Centre, a headline in the Courier News read “Centre of Elgin running in the red - Deficit situation again: Revenues coming in as much as $150,000 less than projected.”

The actual story painted a bleak picture:

Despite efforts by the city to stem monetary losses at The Centre of Elgin , its preliminary financial statements for the first half of 2004 show the municipal recreation facility continues to be unprofitable.

While a midyear report on the situation will not be available until next week, interim Parks and Recreation Director Mike Lehman has estimated the facility could be running as much as $150,000 in the red.

The figure is a rough estimate based on information from the end of May. Lehman told Elgin Parks and Recreation Board members late last month the matter was of “substantial concern.”

The Centre ’s midyear falter follows its staff’s recent assurances to the city council that the facility was actively working to boost its revenues.

Facility over budget last year

It ended 2003 about $475,870 over budget.

Cutbacks in other parks departments had to be made to cover the bulk of the shortfall. The rest of the debt was covered by transferring $58,656 to the department from the city’s general fund, creating some concern that the facility would not be able to live up to promises that it would be self-sustaining.

The $40 million facility, including a four-floor parking garage and 184,000-square-foot building, opened in late 2002.

After its lackluster performance in its first full year of operation was revealed, Elgin ’s financial staff made a series of moves designed to improve matters.

Several employees were fired. Others were not replaced. The Centre continues to operate without a manager after Lynn Robbins, who formerly held the position, was dismissed last year.

Contracts for catering, massage services and other enterprises within the building were tweaked. A special combined pool pass for the city’s indoor and outdoor aquatic centers also was created to offset concerns over the “Adventure Island” water feature at The Centre , which took in $208,152 less than expected last year.

Finally, Nowicki and his staff undertook a large-scale review of all money that went in and out of the facility in 2003, looking for any mistakes. (Courier News - July 9, 2004)

The story shows that the heavy losses at the Centre generated a sense of panic at City Hall at the same time that the Nances had their conversation with Mr. Schock after the shooting incident, which occurred in June.

Similarly, the same month that the Schock liquor commission revoked the Nance’s license, a headline in the Courier News read “Centre likely to lose money again in 2004.”

Again, a bleak picture:

Officials are contemplating making some changes at the city’s $40 million downtown recreation facility, which looks to be on track to post another financial loss this year.

The Centre ’s backers had hoped that the 184,000-square-foot building would generate enough money to pay for its own operations. Instead, it has failed to break even since opening its doors in late 2002.

As of the end of November, the facility was running a $313,000 deficit on revenue of more than $2.5 million. Add in some unpaid purchase orders, and the number increases to $349,000.

Whether December’s numbers will push The Centre toward the black or deeper into the red is not yet clear.

Randy Reopelle, the city’s new director of parks and recreation, said December tends to be a strong month at facilities such as The Centre and that traffic has been high in recent weeks.

But brisk sales last December did not stop The Centre from posting a $134,000 loss that boosted the total deficit in 2003 to $476,000. (Courier News - December 27, 2004)

The Centre of course has continued to lose money long after Anthony’s closed. The Nances say they had nothing to do with the success of failure of the Centre and the evidence bears them out.

But in 2004, city leaders did not yet know that the Centre would become a money-losing albatross no matter what they did, and in the general sense of panic and trying to do anything possible to stem the losses at the recreation center, is it possible that they began to see the African-American clientele of Anthony’s Jazz Club as a factor that would suppress attendance at the Centre?

According to the Nance’s initial agreement with the city, Anthony’s patrons were allowed to use the Centre’s parking lot. Though most of the time the hours did not intersect, on Thursdays and Fridays, the Centre was open until 9pm, about the same time that patrons would be arriving for shows at Anthony’s.

It’s impossible to know what went through the heads of the members of the liquor commission. Perhaps they do not even know what they were thinking at the time. Perhaps in their heart today they know that they made a mistake, but to dispute that Anthony’s was treated differently from other establishments contradicts fact. They were treated differently. The question is why and was it justified legally and morally?

And what about Bob Gilliam? Mr. Gilliam is the sole African-American member of the city council. He was on the liquor commission then and remains on it now. But the Nances say Mr. Gilliam is not really a part of the African-American community in Elgin. They said that Mr. Gilliam even acknowledged in court that he actually lives in Arizona, with his wife there. They noted in passing that she’s white, but were quick to say that it didn’t matter. In any case, they feel that he has not done anything for the African-American community here and they say he is only interested in himself.

The Nances are highly critical of Mr. Schock, who they feel acted capriciously to put them out of business. And they express dismay that the man who “did all the dirty work” for the liquor commission, Rick Kozal, has been promoted to assistant city manager. They view him as a henchman for Mr. Schock.

The trials and tribulations of the Nances raises questions about the liquor commission and structure of government in Elgin. Most residents who vote in municipal elections know that Elgin has a council-manager form of government with a so-called “weak” mayor, but in fact the mayor is quite powerful, in large part because of his control over the liquor commission.

In Elgin, the mayor has the power to appoint the other two members of the liquor commission. To have a majority on this three-member body, he needs only one other commissioner to vote with him. In practice, it may not make much of a difference because the mayor can appoint people ideologically similar to himself.

Historically, however, Elgin mayors have abided by an unofficial rule that the other members of the liquor commission be the two most senior members of the city council–those who have served the longest. But when John Walters was defeated in his reelection bid in 2009, Mr. Schock broke from tradition and appointed Mike Warren to replace Mr. Walters. Mr. Warren himself was just elected for the first time in that same election.

By appointing Mr. Warren to the liquor commission, the mayor passed over both Dave Kaptain and John Steffen. Mr. Kaptain raised the issue at City Hall but was told that the mayor had the legal authority to appoint who he wanted.

The fact that Mr. Gilliam is frequently absent from the city–he missed 2 out of 5 liquor commission meetings in the past nine months, means that Mr. Schock has often been able to make decisions with the concurrence of Mr. Warren alone. Mr. Warren has been described as a protege of Mr. Schock, and his voting record during his two years on the city council mirrors that of the mayor.

Councilman Dave Kaptain, who is running for mayor, wants to change the way liquor licenses are handed out. Instead of a 3-member liquor commission, he wants the full city council to be the liquor commission. Councilmen Rich Dunne and John Prigge say they like the idea, or at least what they’ve heard of it so far.

Mr. Dunne pointed to the situation in Oak Brook as an example of what can happen when such powers are concentrated in the hands of one or two people. Two months ago, it was reported that the Oak Brook Village President John W. Craig, who is the sole liquor commissioner in his town, took $10,000 in campaign contributions from a business to which he had dispensed a liquor license just months earlier.

And one of the things that has become a big issue in the Elgin mayoral race is Mr. Schock’s decision to accept $3,000 from Elgin Fruit Market, a business that is expected to soon bring a proposal before the liquor commission. Mr. Schock has never recused himself in the past from voting on matters relating to his contributors, and in recent forums has defended his actions. He is unlikely to recuse himself in the future. Some voters find this troubling. They question whether it is possible for the mayor to make an objective decision on a matter after taking thousands of dollars in contributions from the party involved in the matter.

The Elgin liquor commission has been a source of repeated controversy in the past twelve years. Aside from the questionable actions they took against Anthony’s, they nearly forced the popular Mission/Medusa night club out of the city in 2006. They gave him so much trouble, the owner said that they, “have destroyed my business, my life and my spirit.” The Daily Herald described it as an, “odd harassment of an entertainment milieu that seems to have been following the rules all along.”

On Tuesday, Elgin voters will pick a mayor. If they choose Ed Schock, then in all likelihood they will get the same liquor commission: the mayor and two councilmen handpicked by him. In fact, they will probably all be the same people: Mr. Schock, Mr. Warren and Mr. Gilliam. If they choose Dave Kaptain, then the powers of the liquor commission may revert to the entire city council whose deliberations will be more visible, who will be more accountable to voters and less susceptible to undue influence from campaign contributors.

The Nances say they are voting for Dave Kaptain because he treats people fairly. They are hoping for a change in Elgin.

The 2011 Consolidated Election is on Tuesday, April 5th. Voters will pick Elgin’s new mayor and city council lineup, as well as board members for U-46, Elgin Community College and Gail Borden Public Library.

Dave Kaptain: Candidate for Mayor
City Council Candidate Profiles
Mayor Ed Schock sees no conflicts of interest
Mayor neglected basic infrastructure
Businesses fund mayor’s election campaign
Ed Schock increased mayor’s pay 8-fold
Ed Schock blamed for U-46 lawsuit
Schock denies responsibility for U-46 lawsuit
Daily Herald Schock endorsement draws heat
Another year without a 4th of July

If you have not already done so please take a moment to vote in our poll for mayor and city council. The poll is in the sidebar. –>

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47 Responses to “Lawsuit puts liquor commission in spotlight”

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  1. Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:

    This is very disturbing to read but I am not surprised.

    For twelve years as Mayor and 8 more as a city councilman I and I believe many others have been Schocked enough.


    I also think we need the Independent voices of Mike Curtin, Mike Robins, and Toby Shaw to break up the Mayor’s majority voting block on the council.

  2. Give Me A Break says:

    Craig Mason, RS or Laurie Faith Gibson Aiello (on behalf of Dave Kaptsin): one of you is responsible for this pathetic and poorly researched dirty campaign trick letter. You all should be ashamed. Pimping for Kaptain so blatantly so late in the campaign speaks volumes. It is in the best interest of Dave Kaptain to distance himself from this posting. Truly unbelievable. Obviously The Elginite blog and the writer have no journalistic integrity.

    • Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:

      Give Me A Break,

      I think your words would be better used to try and dispute the facts above. If you can’t do that then your post above is meaningless.

    • LFG-A says:

      “Give me a Break”

      I have nothing to do with this story, it’s from the Elginite site owner.

      I did visit Anthony’s back in 2005 shortly before it closed, I thought it was a nice club. I’m just reading this article now, there are some valid points and facts that have been reported in other news sources over the years. I’m sorry you didn’t like it, maybe move to Arizona like Mr. Gilliam?

    • Craig says:

      GMAB, all “journalistic” outfits have an opinion that comes through in their coverage. Look at Fox News and the New York Times: they can both cover the same story with two entirely different conclusions.

      Get your news from a variety of sources and discuss with a variety of opinions, then decide for yourself.

      Certainly we’ll often differ in how we think, but if we discuss the facts rationally, we can eventually, hopefully, agree upon a conclusion.

      This article was intended to show the inequities of a government with too much power. We’ve all seen how much they breed corruption and favoritism on a national scale, and locally is no exception.

      • Give Me A Break says:

        Craig Mason if you are the author of this poorly researched and written piece of crap you should be ashamed of yourself. Opinion backed up by facts is one thing but to make a case on racism vis a vis the liquor commission is another. Pimping for Kaptain the way you have does him a disservice. You are certainly not a journalist or a very good blogger. I understand you are a CPA by trade…if that work is like your subpar work with Elginite or Elginomics, then you should look for another career. You should be ashamed. TSandor and Janelle Walker certainly are adding to the dialogue…not what you were going for. Unbelievable!

        • Craig says:

          GMAB—I’m not the author of this particular piece. The author is credited at the top of each article, RS in this case. I am the editor of the Elginite and the owner/author of Elginomics.

          In most of what I write about, I’ve attempted to make the case against favoritism, cronyism, government overreach, and wars.

          As stated above, I don’t always expect to be agreed with, and criticism and debate is always welcome. Tom & Janelle (and you, whoever you are!) are of course welcome to comment in whatever manner they see fit.

          I would hope that comments would address any mistaken facts or illogical arguments you’d like to clear up, and although personal attacks may often be a first impulse, they do nothing to address the issues at hand.

  3. One Vote says:

    Maybe the Teflon on Ed is wearing thin.
    People forget the things Ed has done. Hopefully they don’t believe his nonsense that the white population is growing and that the Bandits paid back $700,000 in three weak seasons at Judson.
    Perhaps they will remember the dope dealer on the payroll at ERC. And they should remember that the city left him in place with daily contact with our youth for EIGHTEEN MONTHS while the worked up evidence.
    That’s a tough area, right by the school house low-income apartments and the half-empty row houses.
    Since Anthony’s was driven out, a diner gave a go of it and moved out.
    You would think Schock would throw some public money at a jazz club just to avoid yet another empty storefront. But I guess Ed had other plans.
    Yes, it is time for a change.

  4. Janelle Walker says:

    Since at least one of my stories is referred to here … I try to avoid commenting on blogs but feel that for the purpose of journalistic integrity I must.
    * Anthony’s was open for a year before the Martini Room sought a license or appeared at the liquor commission.
    * The Anthony’s location and the Martini Room location are two separate locations with two separate business models. Also, I ask if the racism is on Schock’s part or on those of Elgin residents in general. Speakouts at that time were very much anti-Anthony’s. If you want to read all the CN stories from that time, go to the library and log onto http://www.newsbank.com. That (paid) service has all of the old stories indexed.

    • Janelle Walker says:

      OK one more … pulled from a Jan 2007 story. Afterset’s owners agreed to create a “banned list” in Feb of that year to prevent some patrons from entering.

      Officer Ed Cummings and Sgt. Glenn Theriault, working as the nuisance abatement officers, met with the Afterset’s owner and manager in December to discuss the problems.

      ‘Not their problem’

      “My sense in meeting with them is that the manager and owner had a sense that once (fights) went outside of the building, it was not their problem anymore,” Theriault said.

      As both a gang and drug unit officer in Elgin for nearly 12 years, Adam said, he is “familiar with the criminal element in Elgin.” He believes as much as 50 percent of the Afterset’s clientele are people with criminal records.

      “The clientele is a much rougher crowd” of people who often induce incidents “of a violent nature that escalate beyond our control,” Adam said.

      Much of the Afterset’s clientele are the same people who caused problems at Anthony’s Jazz and Supper Club, which the city closed down in January 2005, Adam said. They include two factions of a street gang that have split from each other.

    • Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:

      The last election in 2009 I made it a goal of mine to help defeat three of the four informal majority who along with the Mayor at one time were seriously considering hiring the Futterman Law Firm for $44,000 regarding the U46 new boundaries. The cost of this class action lawsuit that started with litigation talk back in 2004 is currently 8.6 million dollars and growing. Incumbents Walters, Figueroa, and one time Councilwoman Rodgers all lost despite having a total of about 33 years of council experience among them.
      Now we can send a message of accountability to all local politicians that you should not be loose with your words and that we want leaders who will do their best to stop foolish litigation talk by voting Mayor Schock out of office for his role in this mess. Please see July 2004 Daily Herald Article Elgin Won’t Sue U46 for a refresher on what went down and was said by whom at –

      This fiasco of poor leadership alone is enough to vote the Mayor out of office in my opinion. We have been Schocked enough. It is time for change.
      I will vote for Councilman Dave Kaptain to be our next Mayor of Elgin

      I won’t vote for Councilman Steffen because of his strong relationship with his wife, lawyer Kerry Kelly who is quoted in a 2004 Daily Herald article titled Elgin Won’t Sue U46 as saying -

      “It’s great if the city is on board, but we’re still here if they’re not on board,” said Elgin resident and U-46 parent Kerry Kelly, who is not a potential litigant but supports the parents’ efforts.

      Whole article is at -


      Trained and educated as a lawyer she more than others knows the consequences of foolish litigation talk as she is quoted saying above. 8.6 million dollars and still counting.

      Common Sense Clarence Hayward

      1. This U46 class action law suit has not managed our money prudently.
      8.6 million dollars of taxpayer money burned up in smoke to defend

      2. It has cost us teacher and staff jobs. They were qualified and
      some were the newest teachers.

      3. It is trying to eliminate efficiencies of less busing of students
      and less driving for parents to after school activities.

      4. It is trying to stop basic innovation of neighborhood kids going to
      their neighborhood school.

      5. Our tax dollars are spread further with private schools and home
      schoolers. If my kids went to private school or were home schooled
      I would be double upset with this 8.6 million of tax dollars for a
      parents lawsuit that Councilman Steffen’s lawyer wife Kerry Kelly
      was quoted as supporting.

      6. It is trying to spew more deadly carbon laden diesel into our
      precious earth by opposing the sustainable idea of less busing.

      So on John Steffen’s mailer he wants to focus in the city on -

      1. Managing our money prudently.

      2. Creating new jobs and developing qualified workers.

      3. Increasing efficiencies, engagement and communication in City

      4. Providing basic city services with innovation.

      5. Using private-public partnerships to stretch our tax dollars.

      6. Implementing sustainable practices and projects.

      Seems to me that regarding the U46 law suit and Kerry Kelly supporting the parents, the suit has been in direct contrast to the focus of Elgin that Councilman Steffen states in his flyer.

      I wish he could have counseled his own wife regarding his goals and explain what is good for the City is also good for U46.

      Does anyone really want someone on the council with a lawyer wife like Councilman Steffen’s Kerry Kelly?

      If he can’t guide his own wife responsibly how is he going to guide the city?

      I will vote for Independent voices Mike Curtin, Mike Robins, and Toby Shaw for Elgin City Councilman.

      We have been Schocked enough these past 20 years. We need a Kaptain to lead this city forward with integrity and no conflicts of interest.

    • Craig says:

      Janelle, thanks for weighing in. Good point on Schock’s own opinion vs. the will of the people. There might be some truth to that…

      Also, regarding the Afterset, for two years I lived in an apartment that overlooked the bar and shared a parking lot. Yes it was loud (I rented an apartment above a bar, what did I expect?), but I never once felt unsafe. There were always members of the EPD keeping close watch of the area and everyone I came in contact with was pleasant to me.

      In the summer they would (maybe they still do?) have giant grills with great smelling BBQ behind the bar…For all the people that think this kind of thing is a “nuisance”, have you ever actually had a problem personally? Or are you more so just scared of rumors you’ve heard and something different from what you’re used to and comfortable with?

      Are the fights random acts of violence or infighting among groups?

      Certainly neither is desirable or safe, but is hastily shutting down the establishment near which it happens really the best long run solution?

      If the clientele at Anthony’s & the Afterset really were similar, does that not just move the same people 50 yards down the block?

      Furthermore, should this type of decision really be left to just 3 similarly minded people to enact by force in a complex community of over 100,000?

      • Janelle Walker says:

        I really didn’t intent to jump into the fray here, but since I was the person (with Tom O’Konowitz from the DH, now working in PR in Cleveland) who was reporting on and attending the liquor commission meetings when Anthony’s, and later Afterset, came up … I do remember someone saying, and honestly don’t remember who it was other than, I believe, a police officer … “The rats always run” or something to that extent. I think the sentiment means that when one problem location is closed, the “nuisance” element will always find somewhere else to run to. Strong management, unwilling to put up with bad behavior or gang affiliation, is the only thing that can prevent the next location from being a hang out for the gang element.

    • RS says:

      “* Anthony’s was open for a year before the Martini Room sought a license or appeared at the liquor commission.”

      Sorry about that. You are indeed correct. Your story appeared on 6/4/2004. I mixed up the years by accident.

      • Janelle Walker says:

        I also would like to mention out that when a tavern was brought in front of the liquor commission for violations, it was via the request of the police department. Several area bars were cited — and some closed down for up to 10 consecutive days, made to pay fines, lost their package sale license or had other consequences — after police did a year-long investigation into drug sales at Elgin bars.

        I, however, have not covered the liquor commission since 2007, when I officially left the CN. I am now a freelancer, not staff. I covered the liquor commission for 2 or 3 years and could not speak to recent practices.

  5. Tsandor says:

    I must apologize it that in rereading the piece, RS did mention the Federal Court case and its outcome. I must however ask who should have been seated at the defense table. The only two members of the council and liquor commission still in office and with the capacity to represent the city were Mayor Schock and Councilman Gilliam. As RS has frequently mentioned Mr. Gilliam is retired and therefore had the time as well as the ability to be in court as a representative of the defendant during the entire trial.

    • RS says:

      That’s an interesting point, but it’s worth noting too that like Mr. Gilliam, Mr. Schock is a U-46 retiree. Sure, Mr. Schock would be busier as mayor, but the position is supposed to be part time anyway. And with a lot at stake, one can argue that the mayor should have been the one sitting at that table to represent the city.

      The Nances say that Mr. Gilliam was in poor health during the trial and required frequent breaks. Nevertheless, the defense dragged him out there every day for 9 days.

      • Paul says:

        “one can argue that the mayor should have been the one sitting at that table to represent the city.”

        So it was white racism to have Afro-American ‘uncle tom’ (white wife) Gilliam represent the face of the city against charges of racism by the liquor commission though Gilliam was 1 of 3 commissioners at the time of the alleged racism and 1 of 2 commissioners available at the time of the trial?

  6. Truth in Elgin says:

    I thought Anthony’s was a nice place and had good music. Now I know why it closed. I think the Nance’s should still pursue litigation. It seems like they have enough ammunition. Interesting factoid about the Martini Room getting the same license but with different rules.

    It’s really disappointing that the rest of the Council will be tainted by what Schock & Gilliam have been doing all these years with their mob rule. Taking a thriving economy and giving it away to developers or whoever is lining their pockets this year. Look around the only thing open is bars, and most of those look like those will be closing soon. Not to worry! Elgin Fresh Market will sell you bottled liquor because they’re going in front of Schock & Gilliam. Just like Walgreens did. Remember Schocko did the commercial for them.

  7. David Reinert says:

    Fourteen comments not worth 14 cents. Just another dirty political move. First of all, all of this nonsense is old news. Who cares what happened in those past years. Just a way, using a different method, to get at a candidate. I remember a meeting years and years ago un downtown Elgin where the city fathers were tryinng to go after Clyde Shales. The tricks being discussed are stilll being used today. It reminds me of Chicago style poliitics. You people should join the Rev. Meeks, Jesse Jackson and Danny Davis and the other black political leaders who tried to set-up Rahm. These tricks are as old as dirt. People can see through them and there dirty way to beat a candidate.

  8. Yep ! says:

    I guess ..you have it all summed-up .. lets hope that our New.. Mayor .. can begin to fix up Elgn`s ….monstrous IMAGE.. problem.. bring back Spring Clean up.. as a start.. as we …clean up useless government .. tomorrow.. lets hope , that is.

  9. Vitamin D says:

    Dave your comments are with way more than $.14—They’re PRICELESS! =D

  10. cruexxxx says:

    Quote: Mr. Warren has been described as a protege of Mr. Schock, and his voting record during his two years on the city council mirrors that of the mayor.

    It mirrors it 100% exactly. Is that good, free-thinking government? Protege? How about a vote-for-vote duplicate? If Moeller gets elected, Schock will have TWO duplicates.

    Who are Kaptain’s duplicates in this election? He has none I have seen.

  11. David Reinert says:

    Who are Kaptain’s duplicates in this election? He has none I have seen. How about Dunne and Prigge. They vote with Kaptain all of the time. He hopes one of the also ran get elected. I expect he will be pushing an Chicago agenda. It is time for reform. He better start taking Spanish lessons if he seeks that kid of an agenda. After all, the Hispamics are the majority in Elgin. Sort of like Carpentersville. Maybe he can get some advice from Bill Sarto. They are both similar type of thinkers.

    • One Vote says:

      Actually, Schock had a chance back in mid-2006 to get vigorous with immigration enforcement by signaling more cooperation with ICE. Ms. Womack said no, and Ed followed in the footsteps of Bill Sarto.
      That was a big mistake. Maybe Ed was afraid of the race card; maybe he thought the Hispanic vote was stronger than it really is.
      Whatever the reason, Schock began acting like Bill Sarto.
      Right analogy, Dave; wrong politician.

      • David Reinert says:

        Yes, I said Kaptain is another Bill Sarto. Their agenda’s are out in left field. If he wins maybe Dunnne and Prigge can keep him on the right footing. And Gilliam will still be around. We will have a council run by committee, not by a mayor. We all know Kaptain is a liability as he will work to Elgin disadvantage for the next 4 years. The same group backing him now will be glad to send him packing. The man has no leadership qualities.

        • Truth in Elgin says:

          You know DR doesn’t really read. He just read right by what you said saying Schocko was like Sarto. Besides whatever he says ‘is as old as dirt” and he should know.

  12. Combos says:

    The Nance’s place was known as Thug Nation after the gunshot incident. They did nothing on their own to stop the powder keg of Neno Brown-wannabes creeping in. The lawsuit they lost was evidence of that.

    The troubling issue I see here in this article is the mayor’s appointing an inexperienced Mike Warren to the liquor commission right after the election. What qualifications did Warren have that Dunne, Kaptain, Steffen and Prigge didn’t have?

    I just cannot imagine Kaptain playing these tricks with the city. Warren needs to go. He’s an adult and he should not have allowed himself to be played like a fool. Because he did allow himself to be played that way, and voted with Schock on every vote, he needs to be gone. And before Moeller gets ready to take Warren’s place, she needs to lose, too.

  13. Paul says:

    Clarence says: “I think your words would be better used to try and dispute the facts above.”

    That’s kind of the problem there, Clarence. There weren’t many facts, ‘above’.

    Here was a few facts that I gleaned from the ‘above’.

    “In 2006, they sued the city in federal court for violating their civil rights.”
    “It took the jury one hour to come back, deciding in favor of the city. ”

    That the opinions of the Nances and the reporter are that virtually everything that happened to the Nances was the result of unproven unevidenced unfounded racism is fairly clear. That the opinion of the Nances is that Gilliam is an implied Uncle Tom as evidenced by Gilliams white wife and by Gilliam not favoring one ethnicity over another!
    And the fact that the Center was losing money and linking that to the jazz club was tenuous at best, only supported by wild conjecture of opinion.
    This isn’t a news article; it is an opinion commentary. And put out the day before the election! It is a bit on the dirty side. A political smear job.

    • Craig says:

      No race should be favored over another. I don’t think the Nances want any race, bar owner, eye color, or anything else favored over another.

    • Common Sense Clarence Hayward says:

      From the article above.

      The Nances have always stated that they were treated differently and the evidence bears them out. There are no records of any arrests at Anthony’s Restaurant and Jazz Club. Not a single arrest. Afterset had 34 arrests in 2006 alone. They’re still there today. There were people shot to death at JB’s and a teenager was found beaten to death outside Azteca de Oro in 2005. Those places are still there today.

      Is the paragraph above lies or facts. I don’t know. I would appreciate it if someone would show them to be lies if they are not facts. I am all for the facts.

      • Deion Mashburn says:

        Common Sense, I’m with you on that and i love the way you broke it down in lament terms for all these wanna be scholars. I went to Anthony’s night club on the regular, and there was hardly any incidents. I occasionally go to J.B’s and the fights and chaos from 2003, is still going on in 2011. People wake the hell up, no you not going to see Ed Shock or any of his compadres wearing their klan hood out in publc, but compare all the stuff that goes on at these another night club and to say Anthony’s club was a nuisance, get serious!

  14. Paul says:

    “There were always members of the EPD keeping close watch of the area ”

    To be fair, Craig, please explain that the EPD HQ is right across the street - less than 50 feet!!!

    “with great smelling BBQ behind the bar… are you more so just scared of rumors you’ve heard and something different from what you’re used to and comfortable with?”

    Trying to follow - are you saying white racists are trying to shut down Afterset because they have BBQ’s!!!

  15. Merry E. says:

    As a long time resident and business owner in Elgin — I have seen the City and their various departments overstep their powers on many occasions. In fact, I have been a victim of it! I would go so far as to say that some members of City Council and various departments enjoy screwing with the good folks of Elgin. In fact, we gave them Home Rule and now they can, and do, fine any homeowner without so much as a notice of what codes they are violating. God help you if you don’t pay their fines quickly, because then they double. All without due process.

    I personally have been bullied by Mr. Gilliam and I understand the power the City Counsel has to make things difficult. Why do we have a counsel member that lives in Arizona anyway?

    I think the City of Elgin is just another example of power leads to corruption.

    It is stories like this that make it more difficult for the City of Elgin to attract small businesses. It might be less difficult if we could prove the City was wrongly accused, but sadly, I don’t think we can!

  16. terrygavin says:

    Great work on this story, sun light is the best disinfectent! Just one more reason to dump Schock tomorrow! Ed’s failed Centre is the Nance’s fault give me a break who’s the scape goat now? Maybe it’s time for Elgin citizens to wake up to what’s been going on for the last 12yrs.!

  17. Bob says:

    Elgin city attorney Rick Kozal confirmed that the Nances signed a waiver and did not have legal representation during either hearing in Elgin .

    Irving Koppel, chairman of the state liquor commission, read part of the statute, then ripped into Kozal .

    “I want to address this, I’m really hot on this,” Koppel said. “Frankly, it’s unfair. To me, it’s a complete avoidance of due process.” (Daily Herald – March 10, 2005)


    How did a guy who bungled this so bad get promoted to Assistant City Manager? He put the city on the hook for millions in liability and just because he’s Schock’s henchman he gets promoted into the second position at city hall? No doubt Schock is maneuvering him into the top spot sooner or later too. It’s sick.

  18. Anonymous says:

    The Martini Room? I worked for a major home store at that time…these folks were SO focused and were trying the best they could for a dream…news to me about downtown Elgin and it’s issues.

    If what is public record or not is presented in court - look out whom ever is the “bad” guy.

  19. David Reinert says:

    Craig, You are reading my last post on this “HOT DOG” board. You as bad as your competition.

  20. Combos says:

    I know Prigge voted against the ward system that Kaptain likes and Kaptain voted for incentives to companies so they could hire Elgin’s illegal aliens. No one can pack a ballot of duplicates like Schock.