Johnny’s Lounge could face a deja vu moment.
The Beaver Dam Common Council’s Administrative Committee decided Monday to ask City Attorney Maryann Schacht to move forward with the demerit process for Johnny’s Lounge, 519 Madison St.
Johnny’s Lounge was assessed 300 points from the Beaver Dam Police Department in January under the city’s demerit system. Receiving enough points triggers a process that includes a court-style hearing can lead to a bar losing its liquor license. After the hearing, the committee will make a recommendation about what to do with the license, which the full council will then vote on.
Schacht met with representatives from Johnny’s. “Under the circumstances, we felt we had to go forward,” Schacht said.
Neither the owner of Johnny’s Lounge, Amanda Hammen, nor her lawyer were present at Monday’s meeting.
Police allege that Topacio Calderon, 20, got into an argument with a 21-year-old Fond du Lac woman that turned violent. The 21-year-old said it seemed that Calderon and Calderon’s sister were talking about her from across the bar, so she confronted them. The argument turned violent, and police say that Calderon threw a beer bottle at the Fond du Lac woman. A witness said that Calderon also hit her in the head with a glass.
Calderon said that she did not know how the argument started and that the Fond du Lac woman called her a racist slur, angering her. Calderon’s sister said she believed the Fond du Lac woman had thrown something first.
Johnny’s Lounge received 300 points because, according to police, an underage person was allowed on site, which resulted in an injury. The report says an officer saw the Fond du Lac woman at the hospital with a cut down to the bone on her face.
Calderon has been charged in Dodge County Circuit Court with battery and disorderly conduct. She is scheduled to hear the charges in court during her May 22 arraignment. She could face up to three years, nine months in prison and an $11,000 fine if convicted of the charges.
This is not Johnny’s first run through the demerit process.
Johnny’s Lounge is suing the city in Dodge County Circuit Court over the Common Council’s decision to suspend its license for 15 days in January following the hearing, where witnesses testified to lawyers. The bar received enough points to reach that point over two incidents.
“It had absolutely nothing to do with this,” Schacht said. “It has to be totally separate.”
In one case, police accused a female bartended of serving her boyfriend alcohol while she knew he was on a no-alcohol court order. She was found guilty after pleading no contest. In another instance, police accused a man of starting a fight, causing injuries to another man, while no one from Johnny’s called police. The man who police accused of starting the fight received a citation but was never charged in court.
Last time the city and the bar went through this process, attempts at negotiating a settlement failed.
Johnny’s Lounge says the city is applying the demerit system unequally to different bars and that there is evidence of officials having a bias against the tavern. Johnny’s also claims that there were parliamentary errors with the way the city went about suspending the bar’s license. The city denies the claims.
A scheduling conference in the case is scheduled for April 8.