Cottonwood Council just says 'no' to the Dons liquor license expansion
The issue being considered was a liquor license, but an area neighbor speaking to the Cottonwood City Council Tuesday suggested that the City take away The Dons business license.
The Cottonwood Council refused to recommend approval of an expansion of the Dons existing liquor license to also include a sampling permit. The "sampling privileges" would allow the shop to offer tastings of their beer and wine offerings, in the fashion other shops on Main Street do.
The Dons, located in the 900 block of North Main Street in Old town, was one of two smoke shops where employees were recently arrested for selling the illegal dangerous drugs, bath salts and spice.
"I oppose the permit," said Cottonwood Police Chief Jody Fanning. "Their integrity is not very good. They said they would stop selling bath salts, but undercover officers arrested employees for what they said they would not do."
Fanning said that he has also asked a Liquor Control Investigator to look at whether there is a violation of the Dons liquor license and what charges would be.
Fanning explained that it would be a violation of a liquor license to sell narcotics in the shop.
Several employees of the Dons in Cottonwood and the Black Pearl Smoke Shop in Cornville were arrested in mid-March. The Donahues owned both shops. Those arrested included 27 year-old operator Christopher Donahue and employees 22-year old Mercedes Walsh, 21-year old Alexander Boston and 22-year old Mickey Larm. Numerous charges were requested, including possession of dangerous drugs for sale.
Councilman Terence Pratt suggested he would like to see the case go to court and determine the outcome. "But, these are not ethical actions," Pratt insisted.
City Attorney Steve Horton explained, "It could be a matter of whether they lose the liquor license they have to sell beer and wine. They could lose their privilege to sell liquor."
The state department has primary authority and asks local councils to comment on whether they support the recommendation, Horton continued.
A neighbor, Patrick Scanlan, who lives on Pima near the smoke shop, told the council, "We were shocked and now just want it to go away. They are selling bad stuff and said they would stop. It's kinda' like: 'how much can I beat my kid before its child abuse.' Just no liquor license and no business license, if you can do that!" he suggested.
Councilman Ruben Jauregui reminded the council that it was only a "recommending body." He made a motion that the item be tabled, pending the outcome of the liquor control investigation. But no one on the council would 'second' Jauregui's motion and it died.
Instead, Terrence Pratt moved that the council "not recommend approval of the expansion" of the liquor license. That motion was approved 6-1 with Jauregui casting the only "no" vote.
Neither Robert Donahue, who owns the shop, nor his son, Christopher, who operates the Dons, attended the council meeting.