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Common Council upholds mayor's veto of Taco Bell alcohol license

Several alders felt that upholding the veto was a matter of maintaining public health and safety around downtown Madison. 

Image By: Gina Heeb

The Taco Bell on State Street will remain barred from serving alcohol after the city council voted to uphold Mayor Paul Soglin’s veto of an alcohol license for the restaurant.

The council, which needed 14 votes to override the veto, had only nine. Four alders weren’t present at the Tuesday meeting and either they or the nine in favor of overriding could bring up the issue at the next council meeting Jan. 16.

It would take 11 votes to reconsider the override.

Soglin began the discussion by echoing his thoughts expressed at his press conference Dec. 11 when he announced the veto.

“The issue is not the difference between the alcohol consumed and bars and taverns, the issue is not necessarily what takes place in this establishment,” Soglin said. “The issue is the enormous cost and chaos that occurs in this city on Friday and Saturday nights.”

He also showed a short-clip of violence that has occured on or directly next to the 600-block of University Avenue over the course of the past year.

This sentiment was echoed by numerous alders who similarly felt the additional liquor license was a concern of public health.

“This oversaturation has led to problems that are detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the people in this area and the people in this city,” said Ald. Paul Skidmore, District 9.

Ald. Rebecca Kemble, District 18, added that there is only so much law enforcement can do to assist in weekend violence.

“The police are doing the best they can and it’s maybe catching some bad guys but it’s not stopping the problem,” she said.

But other alders, like Ald. Matt Phair, District 20, felt that this was a matter that required more concrete policy rather than a veto.

“We need to be thinking about the root causes as people have said and not holding certain businesses hostages,” he said.

Ald. Bidar-Sielaff, District 5, added that this veto was a “oxymoron,” citing Hopcat as another large establishment granted an alcohol license for which there was no veto.

Opponents to the override said that it was the responsibility of the council to draw the line.

“We’re not just a rubber stamp for the plan commission or the [Alcohol License Review Committee],” Kemble said. 

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