By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Selectboard reconsidered their vote on sanctions against Rasputin’s Tavern and voted to re-re-open the licensing hearing at their meeting on Monday, 6/17.
In a memo to the board, Fairhaven Town Administrator Mark Rees wrote that Rasputin’s had informed the town that they had “severed their relationship” with attorney Christoper Markey and hired John P. Connell.
Mr. Connell indicated to Fairhaven town Counsel Thomas Crotty that Rasputin’s “my appeal” the decision that the Selectboard made on June 3 and sent to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC).
Mr. Rees explained in the letter that since the decision made on June 3 was based on “what appeared to be a mutual agreement between the Board and Rasputin’s,” the board has two options to consider.
One was to stick with the original decision, knowing that Rasputin’s will probably appeal the decision. But the board would have to amend its decision to make the probationary period 90 days instead of to September 9, because ABCC regulations require a stay of the board’s actions if it is appealed.
The other option was to reconsider the vote of June 3, “if you feel that decision was based in part on what appeared to be a mutual agreement between the Board and Rasputin’s, and would have been different in the absence of that apparent agreement,” wrote Mr. Rees.
In that agreement, the board required Rasputin’s to hire more security on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and required a manager be on site at all times, and that the police department have contact information for all managers. The business also received a suspension, but instead of closing for a number of days, the business is required to close at 1 a.m. instead of 2 a.m. during a probationary period ending September 9, when the conditions will be reviewed and/or changed depending on the situation at the bar.
The business had been sanctioned for under-age drinking, and Board of Health violations including allowing customers to do “body shots” off wait staff during “bikini Fridays,” when wait staff wears bikinis while serving customers. Bikini-clad wait staff also danced on tables and the bar.
At the meeting on Monday, Mr. Crotty told the board that the business was following most of the conditions set by the board until last week when there was no manager on site.
Mr. Crotty said that the conditions were to improve the situation at the bar so there would be fewer fights and other disturbances.
The town, however, cannot tell them how to run their business, he said. The changes were not part of th conditions of the license, but an agreement the two parties made.
Selectboard member Daniel Freitas, who has been outspoken about taking a hard line against the business said that Rasputin’s came up with the proposal and now they were backing away from it. He said he believed the changes were working, “so far.”
He mentioned an “explosion,” that got some discussion, but not much explanation.
“I said from the beginning I wanted harsher penalties,” said Mr. Freitas.
Mr. Rees stopped Mr. Freitas from discussion the “explosion,” saying it was an open police investigation.
Mr. Freitas said the board should stop letting Rasputin’s tell the board.
Selectboard Chairperson Charles Murphy started by addressing “rumors” around town that his daughter works at Rasputin’s. He said she does not work there, if she did he would have to recuse himself.
As for the hearing, he said, “I think we’ve been more than accommodating.”
He said he supported option two, to re-open the hearing. He had voted against closing the hearing on June 3.
Selectboard member Bob Espindola asked what kind of delay would be caused by either option.
Mr. Crotty explained that if the bar appealed the decision, the sanctions would stop until ABCC heard the appeal and made a decision.
Mr. Espindola made the motion to re-open the hearing, and the vote passed unanimously.
The board will send notice to Rasputin’s and will try to get the matter on the agenda for the July 22 meeting.
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