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Oasis appeal denied
City upholds suspension of alcohol license
oasis pics 004
Oasis attorney Michael Classens states his client’s case during Oasis’ appeal hearing in front of the Statesboro City Council. - photo by Luke Martin/staff
    The Statesboro City Council unanimously let stand a decision of the Alcohol Control Board to suspend the alcohol license of Oasis for 120 days and fine the restaurant $7,000 for a second and third violation of the city’s alcohol ordinance.
    The issues with Oasis centered around an undercover investigation by the Statesboro Police Department in which officer Ken Scott said he was charged a different cover charge than the women entering the restaurant.
    Once inside, he went to one side of the restaurant reserved for women and while he was allowed to enter the area, he was escorted back to the other area of the restaurant.
    Michael Classens, attorney for Oasis, argued first of all that the Alcohol Control Board and City Council did not have jurisdiction to hear the case, saying instead that it was the Statesboro Municipal Court that should hear the case. However, a judge had previously ruled that the Alcohol Control Board had the right to hear the case, but Classens brought up the point so it could be heard at another appeal. Following that argument, Classens told the council that the police had simply not met its burden of proof in showing that Scott was charged a different cover charge than women and that once inside, he was denied service based on his gender.
    At the initial hearing, Scott testified that he offered the doorman $1 to enter and the doorman responded it was $3 for men and the $1 charge was only for women. He testified that he asked again and was told it would be $3 to enter.
    Classens told the board that the doorman testified that he was mistaken and he didn’t charge anyone $1 to enter.
    In fact, Classens said the city produced no women who only paid $1 to enter Oasis. He said if the city wanted to prove its case, it should have had a women attempt to enter the establishment by paying only $1. Because they didn’t, he said the investigation, at best, was incomplete.
    Classens also argued that once inside, Scott didn’t ask for any services and, therefore, could not be denied any service on the basis of his gender.
    Scott said he went to the side of the restaurant reserved for women and began inquiring about prizes being offered, but was asked by an employee of the restaurant to return to the other side. The Alcohol Control Board found both actions a violation of the city’s alcohol ordinance and leveled a $7,000 fine and suspended Oasis’ alcohol license for 120 days, the maximum penalty allowed by the ordinance.
    Following the hearing, Classens said he wasn’t surprised by the decision, especially since two of the council members were on the Alcohol Control Board as well.
    He said they intend to appeal the decision to Superior Court.
    A certified letter will be sent to Oasis from the city today, as well as a hand-delivered letter, informing the restaurant of the decision of the city council and letting them know they have 10 days to pay their fine.  
    In other business, the council:
    ‰ approved two variance requests, one regarding the height of a building and the other regarding the number of parking spaces required, for an apartment complex located at 130 Lanier Drive;
    ‰ authorized the city to enter an inter-governmental lease with Bulloch County for the Luetta Moore Park property for 50 years;
    ‰ accepted the dedication of a portion of the right-of-way for Bermuda Run Road;
    ‰ authorized the destruction of public records that exceeded the required holding period;
    ‰ awarded a bid in the amount of $1,682,288.60 to Tyson Utilities Construction for phase two of the water and sewer project at the Gateway Industrial Park;
    ‰ awarded a bid in the amount of  $124,580 to Gainsville Truck Center for two long-haul garbage trailers;
    ‰ awarded a bid in the amount of $12,665.75 to Rozier Ford for a pickup truck for the Water and Wastewater Department;
    ‰ approved the purchase of 40 lightpost banners commemorating the 100th anniversary of Georgia Southern University.
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