The Bethel City Council has decided to invite Alaska Commercial Company's leadership to meet with the city administration. While most Council members had no objections to moving forward with the meeting, some still wanted to make it clear that they’re not budging on their protest against AC’s liquor license renewal with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
“I do not consider it linked to the actions of the ABC Board,” said Bethel’s Mayor, Richard Robb.
Mayor Robb went on to say that while he sees his approach as idealistic, he considers it appropriate to allow AC to come and at least discuss the city's concerns. Leaving the lines of communication open, he said, is important. But to council member Raymond “Thor” Williams, it makes no sense to hold a meeting because the city's position is firm.
“My issue is this: if AC comes to the city and goes ‘we’re gonna close Saturday,’ we’re still protesting you. If you’re gonna close earlier at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, we’re still protesting you. Okay? There is no give,” Williams said.
Council member Mark Springer reminded everyone that the meeting is not with the Council, but with the City Administration, which means a discussion with Bethel’s City Manager, Chief of Police, and Fire Chief. Springer added that no result of that conversation would result in a, “trump of that protest.”
As for when the ABC Board will discuss Bethel's liquor issues again, City Attorney Patty Burley said that could be at the next ABC Board meeting in June, but that the city would welcome a special meeting.
“They did state that they would prefer to have a special meeting, and there will be a letter coming inviting them to have it in Bethel that I would like the Mayor and the City Manager to both sign, really showing them that we feel very strongly that it should be here in Bethel,” Burley said.
The action passed in a four to two vote, with Vice Mayor Fred Watson and council member Raymond “Thor” Williams in opposition.