Something In Common

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A Sunday morning quiz: What do the following establishments have in common?

-On Your Way Conoco, 1099 N.W. Bypass
-Royal Flush, 605 2nd Ave. NW.
-Elmers, 1600 Fox Farm Road
-Holiday West Casino, 1520 3rd St N.W.
-Mackenzie River Pizza, 500 River Drive South
-The Red Door, 16 6th St. S.
-Pizza Hut, 1518 10th Ave S.
-Palace Casino, 626 10th Ave. S.
-Maple Garden, 5401 9th Ave. S.
-Keith’s Country Store, 1621 10th Ave. S.
-The Other Place, 1200 9th St. S

UPDATE: Yep – as GeeGuy pointed out, those are the establishments that failed the alcohol sting. And, as GeeGuy also noted, by targeting a function at Pizzazz – which does not, to my knowledge, sell alcohol – it seems the authorities may have “broadened” the scope of the operation.



  1. They all failed the sting!

    Tell me, if the true purpose of the sting is to prevent purveyors of alcohol from selling to minors, why then did the police hit Pizzazz, a store that served a little wine at a grand opening party?

    Dirty pool in my book…

  2. I agree – dirty pool. That function was by invitation only, and I doubt that those who initiated the sting had invitations. So they are guilty of “crashing” the party, and I think an argument can be made that they entrapped the business.

  3. Yes, I screwed up. Veronica’s employee’s have been stung unsuccessfully repeatedly in the past, they are all well aware of the depths to which this community will go to catch folks who sell alcohol to minors, I wasn’t… that’s no excuse I suppose. I have certainly learned a couple of lessons. I just hope this does not adversely impact our business too much. Veronica and I have invested too much in time and money to let this happen. So an apology goes out to the community, we won’t let this happen again.

  4. This sting operation is just political nonsense. Anyone with any info on the subject knows that minors get their alcohol through acquaintances in package form, not by the drink at the bars. Yet all the effort is focused on the bars were the problem isn’t but the headlines look good. The real problem is adults letting teens have house parties but you never see a headline with names outing theses people. Instead we have headlines of 20+ year old military police being served who very well could have been recently shipped back from Iraq. This is one of those areas of city government where those in control think it is better to look good than to be good. I think the police department would be much better served by working with the business people of the local tavern association instead of the pro- prohibition activists of the dui task force. What possessed them to go after an open house at a kitchen supply store? Almost sounds like a personal vendetta of some sort. That same effort on a Friday night could have busted two teenage house parties if there had been any real desire to stop teen drinking.

  5. Here’s another problem with it. They will ‘sting’ a particular location. Say it passes. Then they go back again next time. It passes. Then the next time. It passes. Eventually, one of the bartenders fails. That bar gets its name in the paper, even though it has essentially been clean every time.

    It’s harassment, pure and simple. Do any of you experience that much of a problem when you’re sitting ina bar? Do you feel like all the high school kids sitting around you drinking are that much of an annoyance?

  6. Aaron, they do sell wine, and very nice wine, too. Although Grant and I were invited, we were unable to attend. My take is that this party was by invitation only, to celebrate the expansion and relocation of this wonderful store. So I was surprised and dismayed that the “sting” landed there. I am in no way excusing the serving of alcohol to minors. That continues to be a serious issue in our community. However, I do question the timing of this sting, and the choice of this store.
    If a minor had walked in during regular store hours and attempted to buy wine and was sold wine – fine, I would support the sting. But “by invitation only” means that it was a PRIVATE party. Invitations should have been checked at the door.
    I am sad that a terrific addition to our downtown community will suffer for this. Adverse publicity is hard for any retail business. I will still support Veronica, Pizazz, and her great staff. I am sorry that the opening party was marred by this. Pizazz is a one-of-a-kind store, and deserves support from this community.

  7. People keep mistakenly using the word “Minor” in this discussion. The police do not use a minor but a 20 year old so that they look as close to 21 as possible. The Tribune’s account is just plain wrong about the police using a Malmstrom teenager. I’ve spoken with many who passed or failed and the story is always the same, 20 year old buyer with undercover cop. This is why most of the businesses that failed (9 of 12) actually carded but the employee made a mistake on the month. The law defines serving anyone under 21 as “Unlawful transactions with children”. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with what the police are doing if they were actually using minors or trying to curb alcohol use by minors. The problem comes from aggressive enforcement using bait that is less than a year from being 21 and trying catch someone making a simple mistake even though they had every intention of following the law. Whoever is writing/implementing the grants for this program either has a vendetta against bars or needs to do some research on the teen drinking problem. This money would be much better spent on where the teen drinking problem actually exists but this might put the names of some prominent “COOL PARENTS” in the paper for teen parties at their homes.

  8. Mayor Stebbins, I agree that underage drinking is a problem in our community, as I think it probably is in almosts every community. Have there been any studies done to see if all of these stings are actually helping the problem? Because they are causing an awful lot of hardship on local businesses and employees. You see, both the busienss and the employee get a ticket.

  9. By the way, David. When ever I post a comment the form for posting goes off the edge of my screen and I can’t get over to it. The typos you see in my post are in the portion of the form that I can’t see.

  10. Sorry, Gee Guy — didn’t realize that was happening. What browser are you using? I’ll tinker under the hood and see if I can correct the problem.

  11. Have any of you who have critized the police for enforcing the law actually talked to them and listened as to how the compliance checks are conducted? or are you shooting from the hip? If anyone elects to sell / serve alcohol, they are subject to compliance monitoring… just like if you sell firearms. The state and local laws are very explicit and if you sell / serve alcohol you should be smart enough to know them and ensure compliance. There is/ was no “dirty pool” as the mayor states… just honest police enforcing, not selectively i might add, the law to all citizens.

  12. I know how the checks work. Similar checks have been thrown out as entrapment in Silverbow county.

    The problem is this. You test a business. It passes. You test the same business, it passes again. You test the same business, it passes again. You test the same business, it passes again. You test the same business, it passes again. You test the same business, then it fails.

    So you have demonstrated that you have a responsible business person operating responsibly. But, there’s a slip as there will inevitably be. And then they pay the consequences.

    What if an independent auditing group reviewed every police report for absolute compliance with regulations. A particular officer turns in perfect reports, time after time. And then, once…he’s tired, he’s in a fight with his wife, he’s stressed. He makes an error. Too bad. He loses his job.

    My guess is that you would feel differently about that, Officer Recke.

  13. First, I’m not a police officer. Second, I realize people make mistakes. I have made a bunch myself and I’m sure police officers do too. Some mistakes are more serious than others, ie; drunk driver kills person verses an error in a report. I do feel though that the “dirty pool” comments aren’t justified. Do you advocate that the police “look the other way” when they see a law being violated? If so, then what we’ll have is selective enforcement and we all know that would create havoc not to mention resentment for the law enforcement officers. The offender should realize their mistake, pay the penalty and learn a lesson. Then make a choice to serve alcohol again or not… no big deal.

  14. Al- absolutely the police department selectively enforces laws. There are 1000 times as many people jaywalking as committing murder but the GF police spend 1000 times more resources on solving murders. Do you think this is a bad thing or just common sense? I don’t know the exact statistics but I’m sure I’m not far off, 95% of the underage drinking takes place at homes or parties and 5% at bars with that 5% being mostly 19 years of age and above. Yet 95% of the funds earmarked for the underage drinking problem are spent spot checking bars where the problem isn’t. Does this make sense or is this in line with the thinking of the prohibitionist crowd of the DUI Task force?

  15. Al.

    First, I apologize for mistakenly referring to you as a police officer.

    You say that the “offender should realize their mistake, pay the penalty and learn a lesson. Then make a choice to serve alcohol again or not… no big deal.” That demonstrates the mindset that leads to the “dirty pool” comments.

    The “offender” is generally two people: the individual, who made a mistake, and the business, that employs that person. You’re right that the individual can then “make a choice.” The business owner, however, usually doesn’t make a choice at all. Most business owners in this industry actively choose to try NOT to sell to underage people, but their employees can, despite all of the best intentions and policies, make mistakes. But that doesn’t do the businesman any good when you hit them and hit them and hit them over and over until you catch ’em. Then, even though the business owner has done everything right, they risk the loss of their business. And you then cavalierly reply “no big deal?”

    Tell us this. Have the spot checks reduced underage drinking in Cascade County? Do you have statistically significant evidence of that? How about rates of underage DUIs? Any evidence?

  16. Wolf Pack…”ouch” about the prohibitionist crowd… to tell you the truth, I really don’t know if anyone in the Task Force is a prohibitionist. I know I like a glass of wine with dinner and a cold beer now and then, especially when the Red Sox beat the Yankees! so to generalize is inaccurate and foolish. I don’t know if your stats are accurate or not about the 95% of drinking goes on in homes… I care where they drink, but most importantly I care about how the alcohol is obtained. My observations about how it’s gotten is based on my extensive conversations with minors caught and convicted of MIP. They usually get the alcohol from parents when 1 or 2 kids are involved in the home, they get it from 3rd party sales (older brother/sister) and using fake/altered IDs for larger buys. According to my info, more than 5% get served in bars… I would say 25% would be more like it.
    Gee Guy… are resturants and bars subject to health inspections? Do the mashed potatoes need to be a minimum temp as well as the cold foods? If a violation is observed does the business not get a citation and if not corrected in a timly manner suffer greater consequences? Do they not risk the loss of their business if they ignore the problems? Like the truck stop on the westside and their sewage problems? It takes a lot of violations to get a liquor license pulled and I don’t know of one ever being pulled. You ask “have spot checks reduced underage drinking in Cascade County?” It appears the numbers have not gone down and may even be going up some, but I feel that is all the more reason to push the issue on several fronts such as Malmstrom, bars, chain stores, mom & pop stores and parents. Also in 2002 there were 558 drivers under 21 involved in an alcohol-related crash, in 2003 437 in 2004 499… 2005 stats are not yet available. However there are more drivers on the road too so it appears the numbers are holding fairly steady… As with any stats tho it all depends on how you count the beans. Do you see a problem with underage drinking and access to alcohol and if so your ideas on how to address them? I’m interested in your thoughts on the subject if you would…

  17. Al- From your post it is clear that the majority of the problem is not in the bars but from adults purchasing for minors. When was the last sting operation to net these scofflaws and their names published in the paper? If there hasn’t been one why not? Are the police selectively enforcing the law or is this just a publicity stunt against bar owners justified by a righteous cause? The DUI task force has closely aligned it’s self with MADD which has definitely become a prohibitionist group and has done little in the last decade to forward the cause for which they were founded. This is according to the woman who founded them and has recently been taking them to task for being prohibitionists ( ).

  18. Al-Do you honestly think there is no difference between a health inspection and sending someone in repeatedly to attempt to elicit a violation of the law?

    And, with all due respect, only in government would one claim that the failure of a program after years of effort means that is all the more reason to keep spending resources on that program. So what you’re saying is that there is a program causing a great deal of hardship on local businesses and their employees, and it does not appear to be working (or at a minimum, you cannot document that it is), and you think it should keep going.

    And, Wolfpack makes a great point, what is your program doing to catch the adults that purchase alcohol for minors?

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