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Council withholds Vinyl Club license endorsement

Liquor licenses are up for renewal at two businesses in Ashland with a history of being related to problematic downtown behavior, according to city police. The Ashland City Council decided to endorse renewal for one, the Stop N Shop Market, but not the other, Vinyl Club, at its business meeting Tuesday.

Looming large in the council decision was an incident in November 2017 when a Vinyl Club doorman seriously injured a 22-year-old patron, in addition to a number of other situations in the last few years that have drawn law enforcement response.

In this particular incident, the doorman, Marc Wayne Bokish II, was one of multiple employees hired who were not certified by the Department of Public Safety Standards Training. He grabbed the patron by the throat, slammed him on the ground and punched him repeatedly in the face. The victim suffered multiple injuries and had to undergo two facial reconstruction surgeries, according to the victim’s father.

Bokish was sentenced to a two-year probation period earlier this year after pleading down to a class B felony, assault in the second degree.

This isn’t the first violent incident on Will Dodge Way, the alley behind the establishment, between Lithia Way and East Main Street.

Now that the council has decided to not give its endorsement to license renewal, Police Chief Tighe O’Meara will put together documentation backing up the council’s decision, including a list of all calls of service to the Vinyl Club. That will be forward on to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and paired with any complaints the OLCC already has on file.

The OLCC then decides whether to grant the license with restrictions or to deny it. Luster said the licensee has the right to a hearing beforehand.

Councilor Dennis Slattery asked O’Meara if things have improved in that area and O’Meara said they have.

O’Meara said he had no recommendation to council. He said there has been many infractions over the years, but that recently there have not been many complaints, if any.

“I will never minimize the assault that Marc Bokish was responsible for and I will not defend Mike Leslie (manager of security) and his mishandling of the DPSST certifications I will say that Mike attempts to be on good terms with the police department, and as I was preparing this information, I asked the midnight shift teams ‘What’s going on at the Vinyl Club?’ and frankly they said ‘nothing.’ It’s been quieter there and quieter on Will Dodge Way.”

He said the neighbors in the area have probably become desensitized to the problems and that the problems probably haven’t gone away, but the calls and complaints to APD have greatly diminished.

“My belief is that things have gotten better at the Vinyl Club, but the ownership at the Vinyl Club has taken some pretty significant missteps,” O’Meara said.

He did recommend that council give a positive endorsement to the Stop N Shop.

According to OLCC inspector David Luster, there’s been about 18 open container violations near the Stop N Shop, which is at the corner of Lithia Way and Pioneer Street, since October 2017. About four of those instances involved a direct link to the store.

“What we were seeing at the Stop N Shop market is a steady pattern of street intoxication and open containers being discovered by police on public property,” Luster said.

Luster said the owner has been responsive to the problems. Prices were doubled for certain containers and has resulted in less public intoxication.

“What’s been reported to me right now from officers in the area is a 75 percent decrease in alcohol consumption on public properties since the Ashland Police Department, as well as the OLCC and licensing, began to identify these problems,” Luster said. “And I believe that to be very significant.”

Contact Daily Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

Ashland Police Chief Tighe O'Meara talks about the council decision to recommend the Vinyl Club's license not be renewed. (Tidings video by Caitlin Fowlkes)