Juneteenth ABC license was denied

Published 12:44 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sponsor blames county attorney

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

An Isle of Wight County non-profit has asked for the resignation of county attorney Mark Popovich, charging racial discrimination and a violation of the Civil Rights Act.

Rosa Turner, president of the Rushmere Community Development Corporation, said Popovich acted with discrimination when he opposed an ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) application for a Juneteenth event that was to be held Sunday, June 19 at Tyler’s Beach.

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

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In a letter to Interim County Administrator Sanford “Sandy” Wanner, Turner said Popovich did not contact her or her organization’s officers about his objections, but did express them to the ABC investigator.

The banquet license was denied.

Turner went on to state that ABC licenses were approved the “individual/organization” hosting the IsleJam concerts, held at Heritage Park, in June and July.

Because of the difference in outcome, Turner alleged racial discrimination.

The IsleJam concerts were conceived by, planned by and paid for by Isle of Wight County as a way to generate additional income from the publicly-owned fairgrounds. The idea was to make money beyond the overall costs of the concerts, and beer and wine sales were used as an additional selling point.

Turner compared the ABC outcomes because Tyler’s Beach, where she wanted to hold the licensed event, is also county-owned property.

ABC spokesman Kathleen Shaw said the RCDC application was denied for two reasons.

The first reason was that it was received at 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 16 — leaving just one working day to conduct the usual investigation, Shaw said.

Shaw provided the receipt that indicated the application was received at 4:06 p.m. on June 16.

The guidelines provided to applicants state the application should be submitted 10 working days prior to an event, she said, and included the documents as an email attachment for further clarification.

“This documentation alone provides support for the denial of the banquet license request,” she said.

“There was just no time.”

Despite the late application, the Hampton Roads Regional ABC office began an investigation and found that the event was to be held on county-owned land designated as a park where alcohol is not permitted, Shaw said.

Further inquiry revealed both the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office and county administrator had objections to alcohol in the Tyler’s Beach park, Shaw said.

According to the Isle of Wight’s ordinance, alcohol is not permitted in public parks or recreational facilities, unless authorized by the administrator.

Turner said it is not fair for Isle of Wight County to grant itself a license but then turn around and deny the RCDC.

“You do not discriminate against a race of nationality (sic),” said Turner in an email.

Popovich declined to comment.  {/mprestriction}