Jim Graham, Washington,D.C. Councilman, Asks ABC Board To Reconsider Controversial Decision to Renew Liquor License of Town Square Market

5:33 PM, Nov 27, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -  We have a major development to report in the case of Town Square Market, the Northwest Washington liquor store whose owner was convicted of selling to a minor.

Last Wednesday, Nov. 21, we told you about the 4 to 1 vote by D.C.'s alcohol control board to renew the store's liquor license, despite strong opposition from the community.

Andrea McCarren, who has been reporting on this story for a full year now, has this new twist.

In an unprecedented move, the Chair of the D.C. Committee with oversight over the city's liquor laws has asked the ABC Board to reconsider its decision.

Councilman Jim Graham on Tuesday sent a letter requesting their review of the evidence in this case.

"This is very troubling to me," he said.

That is Graham's reaction to the ABC Board vote to renew the liquor license of Town Square Market, on MacArthur Boulevard and Foxhall Road in Northwest Washington.

"I think it sends a message that we have an ABC Board that somehow or another got blinders on and ignored a whole lot of well documented video and other evidence of a real egregious abuse and violation of the law," Graham said.

The evidence includes more than three dozen alcohol citations issued by Montgomery County Police as teenagers crossed the border from D.C. into Maryland with their purchases.

"I could not believe the amount of people that were going in and out of that establishment. Every time I was there, I never saw an adult go in that establishment. They were all kids purchasing, whether they be from Maryland, D.C. and Virginia," said Officer Bill Morrison of the Montgomery County Police Dept.

  "It was just incident after incident, sale after sale after sale, this guy was open for illegal business on a regular basis," Graham said.

Montgomery County Police even sent an officer to the ABC Board to testify about what he witnessed at Town Square Market. He likened the booze-buying of minors to a "shark feeding frenzy."

 "It's a discouraging message to us... We're trying to get the word out that you can't do this and trying to get everybody in compliance to save these kids' lives. It doesn't help us when this type of situation takes place," Morrison said.

Also stunned is Stu Ross, the ANC Chair and lawyer who represented the neighborhood in its effort to pull the store's liquor license. "My gut reaction, Andrea, was that I've been trying case over 40 years in courts and in front of administrative agencies, and when I read that opinion, I was more stunned than I had ever been in my life," Ross said.

 "Most of the time the decisions are based upon the evidence. And if you base this decision upon the evidence, he gets his license pulled," said Ross.

He too plans to file a motion for reconsideration.

"There's concern in the D.C. government about this decision. We're hopeful that the ABC Board will reconsider and reach a different conclusion, after consideration of all the documentary evidence," Councilman Graham said.

To be clear, we have been asking ABRA's leadership for an interview, on camera or off, for almost a year now, but they have declined or not responded.

And no response on Tuesday to our latest request to explain what would constitute a liquor violation serious enough to suspend a license, or not  to renew one.

See the ABC Board's decision, including the lone dissenting opinion, in the attached document.

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