TKC NOTE: Right now, our pal Craig Glazer offers his insight, expertise and IMPORTANT perspective on Kansas City rules and regs. Craig writes what he knows here and his take is CRUCIAL because he owns the kind of biz that this town is desperately trying to lure back.
The War on Liquor Cards
KCMO Unfair to Employees
Kansas City, Missouri is one of the few cities in America that actually charges people to go to work in a restaurant, bar or entertainment venue. That’s right, for several decades a potential employee that wants to work in an establishment that serves alcohol must get a liquor card from the city of KC,MO. The cards cost 42 dollars; remember your driver’s license is only $14, and you must renew the card every 3 years for another 42 dollars. If you work in food service, you need to get a health card for another $20 on top of this.
What is the liquor card for? Simply this, that you are not a convicted felon nor do you have a felony conviction for DUI. Now in the state of KS, there are no liquor cards, or health cards or fees. The city simply sends an agent out once a year to the venue to get a list of the employees which they run for criminal background. That solves that.
Bill Nigro, Westport community leader, bar and real estate owner has declared war on liquor cards. Nigro explains, “The city collecting this money is a flat-out sham. If the city is not allowed to make money on these cards, which these revenues are hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, who loses out? Where does the money go?” Nigro went on to complain about the fact that many of the servers and cocktail staff are single mothers with little or no extra money. To grab another $42 from them is patently ridiculous.
Remember 2 out of 3 Americans will work in the food/restaurant or bar industry at some point in their lives. Riddle me this: strict liquor laws were put together in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s to combat gangsters like Al Capone, not single mothers and young people trying to work their way through school or simply trying to survive. What does a marijuana possession felony in 1995 have to do with someone being a waitress or bartender in 2014? Not only that, marijuana is about to become legal on a national level. Furthermore, if someone has a conviction for mail fraud, tax evasion, theft or fifty other felonies unrelated to the food industry; how does that affect them working in that industry? As long as their employer knows about their past history, doesn’t that decision to allow that employee to work belong in their hands and not the city’s?
These rules and laws are clearly antiquated and outdated. By disallowing people who want to work and make a decent income positions in restaurants, bars or entertainment, it severely limits their economic opportunities. This can force some of them back to criminal activity as whatever job they might find is unable to pay their bills, especially in the urban core.
Think about this, people that work in the kitchen don’t need liquor cards or any other background check by the city or law enforcement. These are the people that handle your food but make meals for you and your family to consume. So a serial killer can make your dinner, but he can’t pour you a drink, go figure.
Obviously these rules are set up to be a money grab and nothing more. There are better ways to check the backgrounds of potential employees that are more fair to both sides. I didn’t even get into the fact that if you are at work in Kansas City, MO and you forget to bring your liquor card with you; you can be arrested, fined, sent home and even the establishment can be fined or shut down for several days. Outrageous.