The state is pulling the liquor license of one bar and increasing the penalty for another for violating Iowa’s Smoke-Free Air Act. Lynn Walding, administrator of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division , issued his decisions Wednesday on the appeals of Otis Campbell’s Bar and Grill in West Burlington and Fro’s Pub in Wilton.
In the Otis Campbell’s case, Walding revoked the license of bar owner Larry Duncan. Meanwhile, the Fro’s license suspension has been increased from 21 to 30 days. Walding says the Fro’s penalty was for repeatedly violating the smoking ban. “In addition, that is just generally our penalty for going to a hearing and being found in violation of the liquor code,” Walding said.
Fro’s owner Brian Froehlich plans to appeal the decision. “If this is upheld, I probably stand a good chance of losing everything that I’ve worked hard for for four-and-a-half years,” Froehlich said. Walding says Fro’s is back in compliance with the smoking ban according to recent checks by police. Froehlick admits he allowed smoking in his bar “for a short time” after the ban took effect and after he was first cited.
“I know people out there in Iowa, and I’ve read all their blogs..Tthey’re going to say ‘he deserves it, because of this and that and everything else.’ You know what? What I did was to tell people that we need to stick up for our rights,” Froehlich said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “It’s not about smoking, it’s about the rights we keep getting taken away from us every day.”
Froehlich says he’s also upset that other bars found in violation of the law settled their cases and were issued a seven-day suspension and a $1,000 fine. “It’s absurd,” Froehlich said of his 30-day suspension. “There’s no consistency in the rulings and the way they hand out the sentences.”
Walding says West Burlington police would likely strip Larry Duncan’s license for Otis Campbells this afternoon.
“I would point out, however, if two conditions are met, we are willing to consider a request to rescind the revocation,” Walding said. “Condition number one is that he guarantee and assure that in the future he will comply with the Smoke-Free Air Act. The second condition would be that he would serve a suspension of an appropriate length.”
Calls to Larry Duncan and his attorney, Darwin Bunger, have not been returned. In the past, Duncan has said he plans to file appeals until a judge weighs in on the constitutionality of the smoking ban. If his appeal of the revocation were granted, the case would go before a district court judge.