A lawyer for the West Burlington bar owner who faces the suspension of his liquor license for violating the state’s new smoking ban says they will continue fighting the issue as far as they can in the court system. An administrative law judge recommended the state Alcoholic Beverages Division suspend the liquor license of Otis Campbell’s Bar & Grill in West Burlington for 30 days for repeated violations of the state smoking ban.
Attorney Darwin Bunger appealed the ruling today on behalf of bar owner Larry Duncan — but doesn’t expect the proposed suspension to change on appeal. Bunger says, "It’s hard for me to think the A.B.D. administrator is going to overrule that proposed decision, I suppose I could be surprised." Bunger says if the judge’s decision is upheld as proposed, he would then appeal the issue to the district court.
Bunger says this issue goes beyond smoking in bars — and is a constitutional issue they believe they can win on. "Legislators have an obligation to abide by the Iowa Constitution, and when they pass a law that many of them knew at the time, probably was, or even in their hearts knew was unconstitutional, that’s inappropriate, and we just have to reign in on that kind of conduct," Bunger says.
Duncan has are also filed state and federal lawsuits on the issue, which are being handled by another attorney. Bunger doesn’t believe those lawsuits will impact this license issue. Bunger says it’s hard to sort it all out, but he says it’s conceivable that a ruling in the state action could shut down this case, but Bunger says the timing would likely work out that this case would be decided first. Otis Campbell’s liquor license would have been suspended on February 9th without today’s appeal.
Bunger now has until February 9th to get any additional information on the appeal to Alcoholic Beverages Division administrator Lynn Walding. The state has until February 23rd to get in its response to the appeal before Walding makes a decision. Walding tells Radio Iowa he will attempt to make his decision on the appeal as soon as possible. Otis Campbell’s can continue serving alcohol while the appeal is underway.