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Archive for the 'OLCC' Category

OLCC Only Likes Caucasians, Clearly

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission tries to monitor the distribution of alcohol, so they are the inherent enemy of the Oregon Commentator. But recently we’ve been given a much better reason to hate them; they appear to be a bunch of goddam racists. A lawsuit was filed this month that claims employees left a noose at a black coworker’s desk. The worker, Gene Summerfield, said he has also been victim to racial slurs, and has seen employees greet each other by “Heiling Hitler.” He filed a complaint about racist behavior before but was dismissed due to the one year statute of limitations. This is way beyond office shenanigans. This is shameful.

On the next episode of the Office, Ryan leaves a burning cross in Stanley’s cubicle.

OLCC Public Affairs Specialist Christie Scott said in an email to KOIN news, “The [internal] investigation did not substantiate claims of a derogatory comment and found no conclusive evidence that the loop of twine mentioned in the complaint was intended as harassment.” Then what the hell was it intended as? Do people just leave shit like this around for no reason? Was it a gift? A poorly made, but thoughtful, necktie? A makeshift leash for Summerfield’s dog? An extremely ineffective belt for Summerfield’s children?

Unfortunately, some attention whores have marred credibility of similar complaints in the past, but these accusations against the OLCC are not alone. In 2000 Robert Larry spoke to the Portland Mercury about his frequent run-ins with the OLCC. Larry, a black man, believed that his unfair treatment was no coincidence. Five years later Rami Makboul, Oregon club owner and out-right racist (he leaves out that second part on his business card), claimed that when he said black people didn’t belong in downtown Portland, an OLCC agent spoke the same way. In 2007, Reneé Majeski stated that the OLCC wouldn’t give a liquor license to a Mexican store owner in Bend because they feared Mexican gang involvement. Majeski also said that previous businesses in her venue, which attracted more white people, had similar problems to her business (noise, crowds, etc.) but weren’t bothered by the OLCC.

Things aren’t looking good for the OLCC. Or, should I say, for non-whites who have to deal with them. Racial discrimination should never be tolerated; however it’s especially outrageous when perpetrated by an organization that has control over Oregon businesses. But at least now we know the real reason why they were trying to ban malt liquor. Fuck…sorry.

So, OLCC, us Commentators will never like you because some of our biggest principles involve lots of alcohol, everywhere, all the time, and civil rights. And we hold a grudge. But maybe you can earn some respect back from the public if you don’t let this racist shit slide. And while you’re at it maybe loosen up Oregon’s laws regarding alcohol. No? Okay, it was worth a shot.

SB 764: Authorizes OLCC to totally kill your fun

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

OLCC Binge Drinking

Senate Bill 764, which has made its way through the Oregon Senate and has been referred to the House Business and Labor Committee, allows the OLCC to adopt a new rule: municipalities with over 50,000 residents can, through a petition from a representative, declare alcohol impact areas. As it stands currently, the only municipalities that can petition for an alcohol impact area are those with over 300,000 residents, of which there is only one: Portland.

In September 2010, Portland filed one such petition, which was approved in December. The alcohol impact area in that case included that licensees in portions of downtown and northwest Portland and had many stipulations regarding malt beverages and wine, including that OLCC licensees cannot sell malt beverages of over 5.75% alcohol by volume (ABV) and wine or cider over 14% ABV.

From what I understand, these impact areas are designed to cut down on public intoxication and general disorderly conduct in public places. Eugene has experimented with this before, over in the Whiteaker neighborhood: Commentator contributor Ben Maras has a great post about those over on his blog. On the Whiteaker experiment:

With the Whiteaker experiment last year, three stores were asked to participate by removing high content (8% alcohol by volume) hooch from their shelves, and one agreed to participate on its own.

After 90 days, advocates looked at crime statistics and decided that yes, correlation was as good as causation. They declared it a runaway success, comparing it to similar experiments in Washington that yielded a drop in alcohol related crime – shockingly – where people couldn’t buy their booze of choice.
The response from business owners who rely on these products for much of their revenue has been less than enthusiastic. Of the 43 businesses the OLCC spent months courting to voluntarily join the “alcohol impact zone” only nine were game. This was in part because of the amount of their reported sales that malt liquor and bum wine comprise (30%, according to some), and part in fear that if they complied and other businesses didn’t, they would lose business. The OLCC’s response: Force everyone to comply.

The forward movement of the bill likely has to do with the success of the experiment, which, if passed, would definitely impact Eugene and its 156,185 residents.

The question then comes to, as it often does on the Commentator blog, at what point are we sacrificing our personal choice for a “greater goal” (perceived safety, in this case)? One of the OLCC’s stated goals is to prevent over-saturation in the state by regulating the 143 liquor stores in Oregon (yes, all of them are state-run) and owning/distributing every drop of liquor in the state. But when do post-prohibition policies run their course? When do we trust Americans to make their own decisions?

Depending on the passage of this bill, only time will tell. For now, I’m going to buy a 40 of Mickey’s and enjoy it while I still can.

(P.S. Serious hat tip to the Oregonian for Your Government, which allows Oregonians to keep track of their representatives and the pieces of legislation they sponsor.)

SB348 and the OLCC: Second Verse, Same as the First

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

The OLCC is at it–and in **it–again. In another show of their even-handed enforcement, OLCC director Steve Pharo has been caught playing footsie with beer and wine lobbyist Paul Romain. The goal: railroad a bill that would benefit the western supermarket chain Grocery Outlet, increase competition in a legal manner, and, most harrowing of all, hurt the pocket books of the middle-man distributors.

Harry Esteve of The Oregonian has the background:

As far back as 1986, the chain was told by OLCC that it could store wine at its central warehouse in Clackamas and ship the wine to its stores, which sells groceries and wine at prices that are often lower than other stores by 20 percent or more.

In late 2007, the chain was told it could no longer cut out the distributor middleman. That prompted a lawsuit and proposed legislation. The issue is now awaiting a decision of the state Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, [Grocery Outlet lobbyist] DiLorenzo and [Senator] Atkinson are pushing a bill that would essentially moot the court decision and allow the grocery chain to continue operating as it has.

Thus we have Senate Bill 438, which, “Authorizes holder of off-premises sales license, under certain conditions, to store wine at licensed premises for transport to other licensed premises for sale at retail.” Basically, it allows for what Grocery Outlet had been doing for roughly twenty years before it became a problem.

Our friends at the OLCC don’t like that, and are making it clear. Earlier this month, emails between Romain and Pharo came to the public eye, giving us all a lovely look at the OLCC’s objectivity. Among other obvious breaches of neutrality, Romain quite considerately pointed out, “There are some amendments to 438 that expand the storage and delivery privilige to all premises licenses. I believe that would present a huge fiscal for the OLCC in tax collection and control.” (I imagine an attached winky-face was mistakenly removed by his secretary.) To be extra helpful, Romain also sent along a document titled “Senate Bill 438 Talking Points”, just in case his minions needed some help with their homework. This exchange, notably, came after Kitzhaber asked the agency to remain neutral, a point also noted in the emails.

Romain, for his part, has faced the accusations like any well-trained James Bond villain:

Romain chuckled out loud when he heard the charge. He said it’s his job to inform the OLCC about issues important to his clients. Furthermore, he said, the beer and wine distributors sought and were given approval to intervene in the lawsuit on the side of OLCC.

“Of course I’m communicating with them on a regular basis,” he said, suggesting the release of the emails by DiLorenzo was more of a political stunt than an attempt to reveal supposed wrongdoing by OLCC. [OC note: He then tapped his fingers together menacingly, muttering, "Good. Good."]

Pharo himself has called this all a crazy coincidence (no, really), Romain has accused DiLorenzo of being a drama queen, and Atkinson has called everyone meanie poo-poo heads and defriended them on Facebook. Thus, it would seem the Oregon public will have to wait and see if SB 348 survives the Senate before we get any meaningful discourse. Meanwhile, as we all sit back with a sad sigh and watch the political mud-slinging, OLCC Chair Philip D. Lang has this finger of wisdom to wag at the other side, namely Senator Lee Beyer, D-Springfield:

I have been at somewhat of a loss trying to understand why  you…are spending so much effort on SB 348…You of all people, just coming off several years as Chair of the Public Utilities Commission knows that special interest legislation does not make good public policy.

Cheers, sir. Cheers.

[OregonLive.com also has the story here, and the emails can be read in full here.]

Tic Tac, Sir? State Sobriety Checkpoints Pending Vote

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Peter Wong of the Statesman-Journal writes about possible amendments being made to the state constitution allowing law enforcement officials to set up roadblocks and the measure that would call checkpoints to a vote :

It was law enforcement against civil libertarians Monday on the issue of whether voters should be asked to change the Oregon Constitution to enable police to set up checkpoints to deter drunken drivers.

Along with Washington and Idaho, Oregon is among the dozen states that do not allow such roadblocks. The state Supreme Court, by a 5-2 vote in 1987, disallowed them as a violation of the state constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures without “probable cause.” The other 38 states do allow them.

House Joint Resolution 25, sponsored by Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany — a retired state police lieutenant — and others, would put the issue to the voters. Previous attempts to do so have not made it past the Legislature.

Drivers in Oregon wanting to drink on the road may have to become more clever than popping breath mints to evade DUII citation and arrest.  State voters have not wanted checkpoints in the past, but the latest bill announcement of House Joint 25 not only calls personal liberty into question but also driver protection.  Rep. Andy Olson is presenting the proposal  along with House Bill 3133 (HJ’s sister bill), which would change Oregon constitution to allow sobriety checkpoints throughout the state.

(more…)

Oregon Senate Passes Bill Attempting To Reinstate Home-Brew Competitions

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

As some of you may remember, Oregon home-brewers came under fire last summer following a DOJ decision regarding ORS 471.403(1). The law states:

No person shall brew, ferment, distill, blend or rectify any alcoholic liquor unless licensed so to do by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. However, the Liquor Control Act does not apply to the making or keeping of naturally fermented wines and fruit juices or beer in the home, for home consumption and not for sale.

The DOJ interpreted this to mean that once a home-brewer’s product is consumed outside the immediate home, the brewer loses his or her exemptions under the law and must be licensed by the OLCC. The effect of this and the reason for the initial inquiry were questions regarding the legality of home-brew competitions, such as those at the Oregon State Fair. As a result, the 23rd annual Amateur Beer Competition was canceled and Oregon legislators began searching for a way to continue the time-honored tradition of Oregon craft brew judging and consumption.

Enter Floyd Prozanski, the Democrat from Eugene and an avid home-brewer, who, back in August of 2010, stated he was set to propose a change in legislation during the next legislative session to allow for these competitions to occur legally. Introduced by Prozanski on January 10, 2011, and passed by the Oregon Senate on February 22, 2011, Senate Bill 444 seeks to “expand exemption of homemade beer, wine and fermented fruit juice from Liquor Control act,” as well as, “allow licensee to conduct organized judging, tasting, exhibition, contest or competition of unlicensed malt beverages and wine or homemade beer, wine or fermented fruit juice, or related events, at licensed premises subject to Oregon Liquor Control Commission restrictions.”

Prozanski was concerned when he learned of the existing law, prompting his jump into action:

“I was shocked,” Prozanski said about last year’s legal ruling. “My brew partner was extremely concerned because we brew at my house. Under current law, he would be subject to prosecution for transporting his portion home.”

But the bill passed the Senate without debate, and assuming it goes through the House, it should be in place in time for summer and fall home-brew competitions. It seems, for the moment, Prozanski and the approximated 20,000 home-manufacturers in the state are in the clear regarding transporting their goods.

As an aside, here’s some interesting info regarding the law and how it compares to other states:

Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association, said Oregon has one of the oldest laws in the nation, dating to the Prohibition era.

Even though it’s been a tough time for Oregon home brewers, he suggests it could be worse. Two states, Alabama and Mississippi, have laws that prohibit home brewing altogether.

Feds to move on Four Loko ban as soon as this week

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

If all goes according to plan, makers of Four Loko, Joose, and others will soon be getting a letter from the Federal Trade Commission notifying them that they are in violation of federal law. Following several statewide bans of Four Loko, the Food and Drug Administration is preparing to ban caffeinated alcoholic drinks (or are they alcoholic energy drinks?) nationwide as soon as this week.

The announcement was made by Representative Charles Schumer (D-NY), who has lobbied for the banning of the drinks, and is the result of a one-year investigation into whether caffeine was a safe addition to alcoholic beverages. I could have saved you the time, guys: it isn’t. But when has that stopped anyone before?

On top of the students in Central Washington and New Jersey that we told you about a couple weeks ago, Four Loko is now being tied to the deaths of two Florida teenagers. One of them mixed it with diet pills (probably containing more speed), and the other died of an acute combination of alcoholic poisoning, caffeine psychosis, and a self-inflicted fatal gunshot wound.

“This ruling should be the nail in the coffin of these dangerous and toxic drinks,” Mr. Schumer said. “Parents should be able to rest a little easier.”

So what if Four Loko is dangerous? So are cars, swimming pools and the KFC Double Down. Is the problem here really that there’s a stupidly potent product on the convenience store shelves with bright labels that attract younger drinkers? Or is the problem that young drinkers are stupid with them? If we’re going to point the finger, there’s a lot to go around.

Why aren’t we pointing the finger at the liquor control system for failing in their quest to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors, but succeeds at getting in the way at so many other things?

Why aren’t we mad that no one has ever explained to these kids what generations of recreational drug users have known: don’t mix uppers and downers?

Why aren’t we angry at the parents who can’t pull their own heads out of the vodka tonic long enough to teach their kids that just because something is legal doesn’t mean we can’t do really, really stupid things with it?

Maybe it’s easier to shake our fist at the government for not protecting us from these products than it is accept that we knowingly engage in risky behavior with full knowledge that it is. It also means that we have to hold ourselves personally accountable the stupid stuff we do. Drink too much? That’s your right, and it’s also nobodies fault but your own. It means that just because we’re allowed to do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, even if we end up doing it anyway.

And that’s why banning it isn’t going to solve the problem. Just taking away the product isn’t going to change the fact that a new generation of drinkers has learned that mixing speed with their booze is a whole lot of fun (until you end up in the hospital). It’s a Pandora’s box scenario. Before it was Four Loko, it was homemade legal speedballs like vodka and Red Bull and Irish coffee. We Americans are nothing if not resourceful, and we’ll find a new, better way to get ourselves puking blacked-out drunk.

That said, let’s make one thing clear: Four Loko is disgusting. It has all the flavor of codeine cough syrup with the stomach-churning effects of a shot of ipecac, and it turns people into especially irritating drunks. But banning it isn’t getting to the root of the problem; it’s a token political maneuver for politicians who want to appeal to their constituents and don’t want to deal directly with complex causes deeply rooted in our society. If Congress really wants to make some headway and look at these, I wish they’d go ahead and do it already so that we don’t have to keep defending this vile stuff.

No Mezcal is Ilegal

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Portlanders who came across protesters chanting and carrying signs of green vaguely star-shaped leaves probably thought it was a “Yes on 74” march. Until that is, they read the text: “Keep Your Laws Off My Liquor” and “Free Agave.”

The march was put on as part of Portland Cocktail Week and the Great American Distillers Festival by Ilegal Mezcal, a Guadamala-based distiller whose spirits the OLCC is refusing passage to Oregon liquor store shelves.

What is mezcal? It’s liquor distilled from the agave plant. All tequila is mezcal – tequila being distilled from the leaves of the blue variety of the agave, in particular – but not all mezcal is tequila. Over the years, stories of a vile-tasting and possible hallucinogenic worm in the bottom of the bottle has given it kind of a bad rap, but some enthusiasts are working to change this perception.

But it’s not that the OLCC is anti-mezcal. They wanted to clear this up for everyone, so they Tweeted and re-Tweeted a notice to people writing about the event that: “OLCC is not blocking Mezcal. You can get several kinds at liquor stores. Go to www.oregonliquorsearch.com.”

Restaurant and bar owners aren’t arguing that there aren’t some 13 varieties of mezcal available on the Oregon market, though. Ilegal is a small-batch distilled in Oaxaca, regarded as one of the most sought-after brands to jump the border, and they’re upset that they can’t get the artisan liquor without a convoluted and costly special order process.

What’s the process consist of? Well, according to the OLCC blog, it’s quite simple, really:

“You can go to any liquor store to place your special order. The store will write up your request, and submit it to the OLCC for processing. Your order is then placed to the distillery. The distiller will ship your order to OLCC’s warehouse, where it will be transferred to the liquor store. The liquor store will notify you when your items arrive. Special orders generally take about six to eight weeks.”

See? Only seven steps in as many weeks. Brought to you by bureaucracy, and the letter “O.”

“We’ve been really frustrated because these artisanal spirits that we’re very excited about have had a hard time getting into the state through the OLCC,” said David Shenaut, President of the Oregon Bartender’s Guild, said to the San Francisco Chronicle. “They go on ‘special order’ at exorbitant prices-they’re very over-priced.”

John Rexer, owner of Ilegal Mezcal, made a statement of support for the march. “This is all in fun, and it is great to see the support for “real” mezcal in Oregon and elsewhere. I can’t thank the bartenders in Portland enough for getting behind Ilegal and the other brands of artisanal Mezcal. It’s a long road from the tiny factories in Oaxaca to Portland, but these lunatics make it all worth the while. They are the guardians of quality over quantity. One way or another, Ilegal and other artisanal brands, will become available.”

Lunatics? Considering this is a city that flaunts its “Keep Portland Weird” stickers, we’ll take it as a compliment.

Two bites from the OLCC pie.

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

The Oregonian is currently doing a series on the budget crisis in Oregon, including this quick article from Saturday’s paper about eliminating the OLCC. Essentially, the article lists the pros and cons of privatization. The most interesting part:

2009-2011 budget: $134 million, generated by sales, fees and fines. Here’s the breakdown: $9.7 million, 67 employees for purchasing, wholesale and support; $18.3 million, 104 employees for public safety; $14.9 million, 59 employees for support services, which includes administration; $82.3 million agents’ compensation and $8.9 million merchant fees. OLCC returned $172 million in proceeds to state and local government for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

In other OLCC news, Oregon Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-4) is proposing a change to the legislation preventing Oregon homebrewers from consuming their product outside of their homes, an issue that came to head this year (haha, get it?) when the DOJ interpreted the existing legislation regarding the consumption of homebrewed alcohol to mean the end of the homebrew competition at the Oregon State Fair. The legislation is being drafted, and will likely be considered in January, when the legislature gets to start having fun with the state budget again:

Christie Scott, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, said her agency has looked into numerous ways to work within the confines of the law while allowing home brewers to continue sharing their beers and ales beyond where they were brewed. But none of the possible solutions have been practical.

“The only real solution to getting this change is changing the statute, and that is exactly what we’re working with Sen. Prozanski on,” Scott said.

Prozanski said he’s taking the lead in the Legislature on finding a solution.

Prozanski said it will spell out clearly what Oregonians can and cannot do with the beer, wine, hard cider and other home-made alcohol they produce. The goal is to return to the way such beverages could be enjoyed before the Justice Department’s new interpretation of the law.

“What’s been going on for decades should be permitted,” Prozanski said.

All this anti-OLCC press will certainly be a motivating factor in the midterm elections coming up in the fall, specifically since Republican candidate Chris Dudley is making it a campaign issue.

More on the OLCC

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

The DOJ has released their opinion on the OLCC homebrew issue from a couple weeks ago, and if you were looking forward to a beer or wine competition at this year’s state fair, you are sure to be disappointed:

In a legal opinion made public today, the Oregon Department of Justice has concluded that amateur home brewers lose their exemption under state law that they be licensed as a manufacturer when their home brewed alcoholic liquor is consumed outside the home.

The law in question is ORS 471.403(1), which states:

No person shall brew, ferment, distill, blend or rectify any alcoholic liquor unless licensed so to do by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. However, the Liquor Control Act does not apply to the making or keeping of naturally fermented wines and fruit juices or beer in the home, for home consumption and not for sale.

Due to the DOJ’s lack of transparency, I’m having trouble finding the actual memo. Beernews.org has some more on the story, including some clarification on how the issue came to light. Also see this article from the Oregonian.

The law is vague, and was born out of a post-Prohibition era attempt to regulate the newly-legal booze flow. Legislators and law enforcers wanted to keep a close watch on the consumption of alcohol. They wanted to regulate it harshly. It isn’t that much different than what’s happening now, right? The OLCC wants to manage every drop of hard alcohol in this state, to, as they put it, prevent over-saturation. They claim to have the best interests of Oregonians in mind, all the while raking in $172 million for the state, most of which goes into the general fund. And let’s not forget last year’s Bend OLCC controversy.

A government organization with ultimate power over a popular commodity is dangerous, self-serving and a horrible precedent for the state of Oregon to set. Popular opinion is turning, though, was more and more people have been expressing their opinions. Maybe the revolution is starting. Maybe Oregonians are going to start fighting back, taking what’s been rightfully ours all along.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just drunk.

Beer and Fairs

Friday, July 9th, 2010

From the OLCC blog:

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission was recently asked whether certain public competitions involving home made alcohol products were in compliance with the law. We provided guidance to the State Fair and other licensees which stated that such competitions were not authorized because they did not fall within the requirements of this statute ORS 471.403 clearly states that the Liquor Control Act (including the requirement for a liquor license) applies except for beer “brewed in the home for home consumption and not for sale”.

In consultation with the Department of Justice, we have received an initial analysis of the statute regulating home brewing (ORS 471.403) which also indicates that the law only allows for consumption of home brews in the home. The home brewers lose their exemption to craft brew without a license when the home brew is consumed outside of the home.

For all you Oregon State Fair-goers, this means no more home brewed creations to tickle your taste buds. From KATU News in Salem:

The irony is the Oregon State Fair has been holding this home brew competition for years under the same law that is now being interpreted to make the competition illegal. And this in a state known for its microbrews. For example, Oregon is the second largest producer of craft beer in the U.S. and Portland alone has more breweries than any other city in the world, according to the Oregon Brewers Guild.

I don’t know what the deal is here. Oregon’s beer culture is one of the largest ways we draw people into this state and provides important stimulus to our depressing financial situation.

Incidentally, this falls right around Sen. Ron Wyden’s announcement that he will be co-sponsoring legislation to reduce craft beer taxes in Oregon, something he hopes to have in place by the end of 2010:

The bill being discussed by Senator Wyden would reduce the excise tax on breweries producing fewer than 2 million barrels a year. The tax would be reduced from $7 to $3.50.

Oregon brewing, responsible for $2.3 billion dollars a year, is an industry that Senator Wyden identified as a key player in getting Oregonians back to work.

It’s interesting to see the different priorities coming from different offices in the state, especially as this ruling from the OLCC and the DOJ is a shift in interpretation from the past 22 years of the home brew competition’s existence. I’m curious to see how it plays into this fall’s elections as well, as I’ve been told that Oregon gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley is all about privatizing liquor distribution in this state. Like Dudley, I have little patience for state agencies that seek to parent said state’s citizens while raking in $172 million a year.

Party Patrol Storms Campbell Club

Monday, November 24th, 2008

On Saturday the Eugene Police Department raided a party at the Campbell Club, one of the student co-op houses, after receiving a tip that there was an illegal number of kegs on the premises. From the R-G:

When police arrived, residents refused to allow officers entry into the residence. Police obtained and served a search warrant a little before 3 a.m. Sunday. Police said they located the five kegs, and also found several minors who were hiding in various rooms throughout the house as well as in the attic.

Police broke down several doors that were locked from the inside to gain entry into the rooms, said Lt. Angie San Miguel, one of the officers at the scene.

Police cited 15 individuals as minors in possession of alcohol, and issued 21 citations for noise disturbance and 11 for furnishing alcohol to minors. Four were lodged at Lane County Jail on charges that included interfering with a police officer.

According to several sources, there was an undercover cop present. Also, the Campbell has allegedly been issued thousands of dollars in fines. The party was an end-o’-year bash for the regional ultimate frisbee teams. From what I understand, the UO men’s ultimate team rented out the basement of the building. If this is true, the ultimate team is up the proverbial creek, especially if they used club funds to buy the kegs. (But, hey, you’d have to be complete moron to do something like that, right?)

My sources also said that some of the kegs were allegedly rented to a fake address (a big no-no). I’ll try and verify this more tomorrow.

Moving on to more concrete information, there’s already a Facebook group for two of the arrested Cambpell Club members, “Free the Alder St. 2“. (Why do only protesters and bank robbers get to have cool numerical distinctions?) There is a picture of some of the busted doors here (Facebook login required). It was apparently quite the kerfuffle between the co-op kids and the EPD. Once again, the R-G:

Ian Royer, 24, one of the four lodged in jail, said he went outside to ask police what was going on that he was immediately handcuffed and then forced to wait outside, with about eight others, for more than two hours as police sought to obtain a search warrant.

“We were freezing, and they would not let us urinate,” he said. “It may seem trivial not to be able to pee, but when your bladder is about to explode it is really awful and does not feel human at all.”

Royer, a UO senior, said he was wearing a T-shirt and was denied warmer clothing. He said he believes police refused to let him and others urinate so that they would agree to let them search the premises without a search warrant. He said it’s completely appropriate for citizens to demand a warrant before allowing police to enter a private residence.

He and others asserted that another resident, Aaron Nelson, was smashed against a wall and arrested as he tried to record the scene on videotape.

I’m not a particular fan of cooperative living or ultimate frisbee, but is this what the EPD should be spending the majority of its manpower on? According to several reports, there were 12 cop cars at the Campbell Club. Meanwhile, Eugene still has a ridiculous amount of property theft, not to mention a downtown rendered almost uninhabitable by roving packs of street urchins.

Woke Up This Morning; OLCC Got Themselves a Blog

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Yes, the OLCC has a blog. I, for one, am excited to meet our longstanding antipode on the field of Internet battle (no, not Counterstrike, although we’d kick the OLCC’s ass in a clan match). In all seriousness, though, it’s refreshing to see a government agency start a blog. I hope they use it effectively to explain their often contentious decisions.

So far there are only two posts, but one is a response to a Blue Oregon post about self-serving wine machines that I also commented on.

Possible 2010 Ballot Initiative to Legalize Pot

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Proponents of legalizing pot have begun collecting signatures to place an initiative on the 2010 ballot that would decriminalize marijuana in Oregon. Sounds groovy, right? Well …

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would manage the program, which would license approved individuals to cultivate the product for sale.

Oy vey! If you thought the OLCC’s alcohol regulations were asinine, just wait until they have control of weed. Even if passed, I wonder how effective the program would be when citizens are given the choice between trying to navigate all of the OLCC’s sure-to-be maddening regulations or just going to a black market dealer.

A similar initiative might end up on California’s ballot this November.

Breaking News: OLCC Still Totally Sucks

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

The OLCC is putting the kaibosh on a local vineyard’s attempt to actually do something cool. AgriVino Wine Center recently installed a fancy-pants new tasting room, complete with a self-serve wine tasting machine. From the McMinnville News-Register:

AgriVino offered visitors the opportunity to get a taste of and detailed information about Yamhill Wine Country before they ventured out into it. At the core of the operation was the Enomatic wine dispensing and preservation system.

This Italian-made device, legal for use in California and most other states, consists of individual units or stations holding up to eight wines each. The machines read a prepaid smart card that allows a maximum of 10 one-ounce pours over a two-hour period.

Licensed employees oversee the operation, offering advice, answering questions, disseminating information and controlling issuance of the cards. But customers insert the card and push the button to dispense the selected wine themselves.

Can you see where this is going? (more…)

OLCC allows minors into 21+ music venues

Friday, April 18th, 2008

I had the pleasure of sitting through a monthly OLCC meeting this morning, and the senior citizen commissioners actually did something, well, respectable for Oregon youth and music business. After rejecting admendements to the minors posting rule in December, which allow venues that could only have 21+ shows to admit minors into shows, the board passed a revised rule change unanimously today.

All of the public testimony was in favor of the amendments, which surprised Commissioner Christine Lewandowski who noted that a MADD representative would generally be at such a hearing in opposition.

The admendment allows Oregon venues that serve alcohol to host all age shows and those that don’t serve alcohol to do so for added income, as long as they set up an approved liquor control plan. The WW’s Local Cut has a story and some video coverage here.