Veto of Legistar Item 49261, Bell Great Lakes, LLC dba Taco Bell #3004063.

Monday, December 11, 2017 - 4:11pm

To: City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl, Madison Common Council

Pursuant to section 62.09(8)(c), Wis. Stats., and section 3.03(2), MGO, I return to you Legistar Item 49261, Bell Great Lakes, LLC dba Taco Bell #3004063, which I have vetoed and disapproved.

My objections to this item are:

Public Safety and the Enormous Cost

I see little public value in issuing a liquor license to Taco Bell and enormous costs for the residents of Madison and our city government. Perhaps, if the license was associated with a new hotel with its beneficial impact on sales at Monona Terrace or if it was associated with adding to Madison's desire for fresh and healthy food, it would be another matter.

Perhaps we should take this matter of the issuance of liquor licenses to public referendum.

Several times since the 1970's, the city of Madison spent over $20 million to enhance and beautify State Street and the Capitol Square. (Please see the attached report).

  • Such an investment makes sense to attract retail shoppers during the day and on weekends.
  • Such an investment makes no sense for an area populated by taverns.

Public health and safety are our first priority. We have just adopted a record budget for the Madison Police Department.

  • While we have seen a significant reduction in homicides the past four months, the Madison Police Department is still significantly stretched to respond to violent incidents on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • We have special units operating along the three blocks of the 500 block of State Street (the site of this establishment), the 400 block of Frances St., and the 600 block of University Ave.
  • The cost ofpatrols in the hours around bar time is exorbitant. Adding more liquor outlets to the area, even if they close early, makes no sense.

The situation has been so dangerous, there were instances where officers could not apprehend dangerous individuals because of the alcohol fueled crowds.

This License is Just the Beginning.

Most U.S. fast food restaurant chains are working on rolling out liquor based establishments in the next decade. Some plan to go in stages — wine and beer then followed by full liquor in stages.

The logic is simple. They are in business to make money — maximize profits. Since their existing locations were carefully selected based on location; it makes no sense to see profits drop after 4:00 pm. You will recall that it was only in the past decade that they moved to full scale breakfast operations.

Whether it is Starbucks or Burger King, sitting on valuable real estate with a kitchen operation and dining space not maximizing revenues in the evening does not serve the needs of investors. These chains realize that there will be and there has been resistance to the new liquor based model. That is why most are implementing in stages — first beer and wine and then full liquor.

Recall that Starbucks, which already has these modified licenses in the Madison suburbs, considered applying for a beer and wine license for their downtown Madison location.

In the meantime, the violence at downtown locations associated with liquor is only growing — growing in terms of frequency, in terms of location, and in terms of severity.
We have more than enough liquor outlets in our city. We see more and more entertainment dollars, once spent at locally owned establishments, leaving the state.

I ask you to consider the cost to the city in so many ways that will result ifthe Taco Bell license is issued. Please go down to the corner of Frances and University Avenue after 11:30 pm on a Friday or Saturday night before you issue any more licenses that are not necessary — and this one is not necessary.

If we are concerned about public safety, if we are concerned about mounting law enforcement costs, issuing a license that brings no public value, but great public liability does not make sense.

Thank you.

Paul R. Soglin
City of Madison
Dated this 11 day of December, 2017.


  • Katie Crawley608-266-4611