Council opposes extended alcohol-sales hours

Council  opposes  extended  alcohol-sales  hoursBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Ridgecrest City Council met Wednesday evening and unanimously voted to present a letter to Assemblyman Vince Fong opposing a bill that would extend the state’s hours of alcohol sales from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.

Councilman Wallace Martin, addressing the Ridgecrest Exchange Club Wednesday afternoon before the meeting, referred to the proposed bill, authored by San Francisco’s State Sen. Scott Wiener, as a “trash bill” that would be nothing but an “unnecessary burden on the police and the public.”

The bill was proposed in an effort to combat the formation of underground night clubs forming in urban areas to serve alcohol past 2 a.m.

At the council meeting, Acting Police Chief Jed McLaughlin gave a presentation detailing many of the risks that extended sales would create for local peacekeepers.

Council also discussed its current policy for roll-call votes, under scrutiny after a councilmember changed his vote at the last minute during a crucial 3-2 decision regarding wastewater rate hikes last month.

Council made no final decisions, but offered a “strong consensus” according to Martin, for the use of a voting machine that would allow members to submit their votes without undue influence from any other members.

City staff will look into the necessary equipment which could cost the city as much as $10,000. The News Review will have more details as they become available.

During his address to the Exchange Club, Martin also spoke about the city’s current search for several staff leadership positions. Police Chief Ron Strand recently took over for Dennis Speer as acting city manager – one of the positions the city is looking to fill permanently in addition to finance director and public works manager.

A recent discussion in an Economic Development Commit-tee meeting indicated that Economic Development Manager Gary Parsons would also be parting with the city and his role would need to be filled.

Martin told Exchange members that he approves of going through Mathis Consulting Group to find candidates for these roles. He expressed that ideally the city would like to hire locally, but he doesn’t want to shy away from new talent.

“I think we have tremendously talented local people,” said Martin. “But I think that we’re going to have to do some new things and take some new, fresh approaches.

“It’s not that I’m discouraging anyone local from applying, but we are better served by a larger group of applicants. I don’t think anybody can make the argument against the fact that we reduce our risk by having a larger group of qualified candidates to choose from.”

Martin said the Mathis Group came highly recommended by the League of California Cities and that the city would save in consulting costs by searching for several positions simultaneously through the same firm.

Ideally, the city will first find a city manager who can then assist the consulting firm and council through the interviewing process.

City Council meetings are held the first and third Wednesdays of every month, 6 p.m. at City Hall. More details are at www.ridgecrest-ca.gov/ridgecrest-city-council.

Pictured: City Councilman Wallace Martin speaks of the alcohol sales bill Wednesday at the Ridgecrest Exchange Club meeting. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-08-04