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Lake City News

Lake City vs Maeweather: CM Johnson has the last word. Keep him suspended – Let him reapply

Kendrick Maeweather stands in front of the City Council, on his own without an attorney. He was not prepared for what was about to happen.

LAKE CITY, FL – Kendrick Maeweather, owner of The Hole In The Wall game room and arcade, appeared before the Lake City, City Council last night to hear if the Council would lift his business suspension and allow him to make a living. After 33 minutes, and after agreeing to everything the City asked of him, City Manager Wendell Johnson recommended to a City Council that couldn't or wouldn't make a decision, that Mr. Maeweather's license remain suspended. After the meeting, Councilwoman Melinda Moses said to no one in particular, "We're just trying to do the right thing."

 

April 2, 2012: "We want to put you back in business."

As the April 2, 2012 Maeweather public hearing wound down the Council decided that it would not rule on Mr. Maeweather's business license suspension. Mayor Witt told Mr. Maeweather that besides police protection – all the issues, "the garbage, the post office (the City claimed that Mr. Maeweather didn't have a mail box). We don't want to set you up to fail. We want to put you back in business."

Mr. Maeweather's response to the Mayor, "Yes sir."

Last Night: April 16, 2012


The Council had difficulty making a decision. From left to right, Clerk Michele Greene, Mayor Witt, Councilman Hill, Councilman Ward, City Attorney Darby

Last night the City Council came together to rule on Mr. Maeweather's business license suspension.

Councilwoman Moses opened the discussion and inquired about Mr. Maeweather's solutions to the City's complaints.

The City complained that Mr. Maeweather needed to hire security to patrol the City streets around his business. Mr. Maeweather made a deal with the Sheriff to do that.

The City complained that Mr. Maeweather didn't have a mailbox. Mr. Maeweather said he got a mailbox.

The City complained that Mr. Maeweather didn't have garbage pickup. Mr. Maeweather previously explained there was almost no garbage and what little there was he took home to throw in the trash. Mr. Maeweather said he now will have garbage collection.

The City complained that there was a problem with the locks on the doors of his club. Mr. Maeweather said he had taken care of that problem and the City's fire inspector, Chief Frank Armajo told the Council that the door locks were now to code.

The City complained that the police couldn't see in the front door of Mr. Maeweather's establishment. After a brief conversation it was agreed that they could.

Mr. Maeweather raised the age of admittance to the Hole In The Wall during certain hours. In a written letter to the City, Mr. Maeweather put it this way:

I am also raising the age limit for entrance to further prevent the immaturity that may lead to inappropriate actions and mishaps inside and outside of the establishment. The previous age of entrance was 18 years and older which has now be changed to 20 years and older. The security will be required to execute random consecutive appearances inside and outside the premises to deter all potential smoking in the building and violence of any type.

Mr. Maeweather explained to Councilman Ward that since the letter was written, he and his partner had decided to raise the age to 21.

Mr. Maeweather met every demand of the City. It wasn't enough.

The Big Curve

Mr. Maeweather had decided to remove some of the folding tables in his establishment. In a plan that the City had drawn up and had apparently not delivered to him before the meeting, Larry Lee of the Building Department said the occupancy rate had changed from a maximum of 149[7] to 404. This would require Mr. Maeweather to put in a sprinkler system.


City Manager Wendell Johnson sat by for a while. When the Council couldn't come up with a decision he volunteered one.

Mr. Maeweather said, "I was told 149... That's what I always went by. I never went over that. I never knew about the four hundred."

Mayor Witt added, "That's because we changed it."

Mr. Maeweather said, "That's too many people."

Mr. Maeweather was quizzed about how he managed the number of people he allows in and how he counts them as they leave.

Mr. Maeweather told the Mayor he had been closed since February 8th.

A conversation then ensued between the Building Department Director, Larry Lee, and the Council. The conversation kept coming back to the sale of alcohol, which Mr. Maeweather never mentioned and other issues that had nothing to do with Mr. Maeweather's suspended business license.

At the conclusion of the discussion, the City Council sat speechless.

Finally, City Manager Wendell Johnson joined the conversation.

The City Manager Speaks

"There seems to be some misunderstandings on what he wants to do," said CM Johnson.

The City Manager asked Mr. Maeweather when he expected to reopen if his suspension was lifted.

Mr. Maeweather said he expected he could reopen around the 14th of May.

CM Johnson continued, "The current license is in a state of confusion... Come back to the City and reapply... That would be the cleanest way to do it... There's some issues that need to be clear between you and the City."

The City Council

The City Council voted unanimously to keep Mr. Maeweather's business license in suspension. It reduced the time from six months to three months.

Epilogue

Mr. Maeweather now has agreed to go through the licensing process all over again.

The Blanche Boys, the owner's of Lake City's death trap – the Blanche Hotel, who had received over 150 violations, some of which were serious, life threatening violations which were felonies, were allowed to remain open for business, with the blessing of the City Manager, while the issues were worked out.

This courtesy was not extended to Mr. Maeweather.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On April 20, 2012, Rudolph Davis wrote:

It is law enforcement responsibility to plan how to handle any type of incidents that occur on city property, not Mr. Maeweather. Mr. Maeweather should not have to reapply for a business license that he already has from the city.

Law enforcement has dealt with these types of incidents all over the city for years, and we have always been able to handle these types of incidents without suspending anyone business license.

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On April 21, 2012, citizen49a wrote

I have to say that I see this the same way Mr. Davis does. Why is it that the City has trouble understanding their responsibility to keep order and prevent illegal acts on their own property?

If there were a restaurant located on the city property referred to in the article, and restaurant patrons were smuggling in package liquor to get a buzz before heading over to Mr. Maeweather's establishment, then by the City's logic it would be Mr. Maeweather's responsibility to hire off duty law enforcement to patrol the inside of the restaurant and prevent the illegal drinking going on in there.

City people do seem a little slow on the uptake if we are to judge by City Manager Johnson's statement that "There seems to be some misunderstandings on what he wants to do."  Let me spell it out for you Mr. Johnson: Mr. Maeweather desires to own and operate a business so that he can support himself, and provide a service to the community that they willingly pay for and receive actual benefit from. He does not a have job that allows him to extract money from the taxpayers by force of law, so it is necessary for him to do something like this if he does not wish to rely on public assistance for his living.

But that sort of honest personal enterprise is apparently not very popular here in Lake City, at least when the petitioner is black and doesn't have connections in city government.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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