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Silence on licenses lets questions fester

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Editorial: March 22, 2012

ISSUE: Awarding of liquor licenses
OUR VIEW: State should explain itself

As liquor licenses are put to use and package stores begin appearing in Hardin County's largest cities, it brings to mind an unanswered question in this ongoing cultural change.

Questions regarding conflicts of interest were raised when Radcliff City Council members, past and present, sought licenses. The spouse of another council member also was an applicant.

Both those applications offered business experience, complied with the state paperwork processes and suggested viable locations.
Both were passed over by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control officials.

The unanswered question: Why?

State ABC administrators defer questions to their attorney. The attorney provides no insight, saying only that court tests affirm the board has full discretion in decisions regarding licenses.

Having the power and authority is not an explanation. It does not provide guidance for future applicants and more significantly it continues to cloud the integrity of these applicants.

The liquor authorization was placed on the ballot by citizen petitions. It was approved by voters in all three of the county's largest cities in a special referendum. The council did not push this agenda but in each city elected officials have dealt with several delicate questions since the matter came to light.

In no instance has anything inappropriate or unseemly come to light regarding the council's activity. It's impossible to follow the state's logic if no reasons are offered.

A license was issued to a member of Hardin Fiscal Court who has a recurring business relationship with Radcliff's mayor. That obviously did not concern the ABC staff.

If it's simply wrong for a council member to seek a licenses, the state should say so.

It would be understandable if the state was uncomfortable with voting members of a city's legislative body. After all, these people could decide the employment future of the city's beverage control officer and others in law enforcement charged with ensuring the sale of alcohol is handled legally.

But by declining to offer any reasoning, the state has allowed suspicious minds to extend their gossip. It has done a disservice to people who have devoted themselves to public service and business success.

This opinion respresents a concensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.