Yuba County Sheriff Questions CA State Alcoholic Beverage Control Closing Down Bars in Newly Re-Open

Sheriff Wendell Anderson. (Photo: Yuba County Sheriff)

The State is sending in agents without notifying the local authorities?

California Globe was informed by several Facebook friends that in the rural counties which have reopened, the State is sending in agents from the California Department of State Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to close down bars.

Tuesday, a women reported that she and her husband had been enjoying a beer in a bar in Yuba Sutter when ABC agents came in, booted the customers out and shut the bar down. Others reported similar incidents.

On Wednesday, we found out from our friends at the Territorial Dispatch that the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control was doing this without notifying the local authorities.

Enter Yuba County Sheriff Wendell Anderson, who penned a letter to the Citizens and Businesses in Yuba County.

Wednesday May 6th, 2020

It was brought to the attention of local law enforcement that yesterday, representatives from the California Department of State Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) were in the Yuba-Sutter area contacting businesses. We are working with local businesses to obtain more information about each specific contact and what information ABC provided. We recognize ABC has licensing authority over a business’ ability to serve alcoholic beverages. We are working with state and local officials to help mediate this issue moving forward. We encourage any business contacted by a state agency to ask for, and verify, proper identification and request a copy of any complaint that led to the business being contacted. Business owners should consider contacting their respective attorneys for legal guidance on any contacts from a state agency.

We support the decision to resume business and support the local order by our health officer. We would like to remind and urge local businesses to educate themselves on the specifics of the local order and to take steps to be in compliance.

Similar to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s apparent get-even beach closures in Orange County, it’s not difficult to believe the ABC agents were acting similarly with these rural counties which re-opened against the governor’s orders.

One woman wrote on Facebook that “the ABC is not allowing on site liquor sales in Yuba Sutter. But you can still order it to go. In your car. You can put it right there, right in your cup holder. That’s where you can drive with your booze. In the cup holder, handily placed in arms reach of your steering wheel. iTs fOr yOuR sAfEtY.”

She posted video of two California ABC agents, standing close together in the bar, sans glove or masks, ordering everyone else to properly socially distance. A patron asked the agents why they didn’t socially distance from each other or wear masks and gloves. “We’re working right now,” was the answer.

Ironically, on its website, the Alcoholic Beverage Control agency says, “We are aware that this pandemic has had very real and immediate impacts on businesses, community-based organizations, and local government agencies we serve and work with. Because the stakes are so high, we understand that we need to be as flexible as we can during this very difficult phase of confronting this virus.”

It’s not a stretch to see this as retribution to smarty-pants counties which have re-opened without marching in lockstep with the governor. And the state’s licensing authority over a business’ ability to do its job is a big threat.

But the message to the governor is that one size does not fit all of California’s 57 counties, 164,000 square miles of land, and 40 million residents.

California Department of State Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) website. (Photo: screen capture, abc.ca.gov)

Katy Grimes

Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California's War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?

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