The SPOA vs. Blair Ulring

There is a story in today’s paper about how the Stockton Police Officers Association, the union that represents rank-and-file cops, is suing Chief Blair Ulring for trying to block a beer concession the union ran at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds.

The complaint filed by the union’s attorney, David Mastagni, makes concrete the link between Ulring’s order and the union’s no-confidence vote. The entire document is worth reading. According to the union, Ulring was livid not only that the union had undercut him, but that I found out.

LEONESIO, the SPOA Vice-President and a Board of Director met with Ulring on November 10, 2010. At this meeting ULRING threatened that he held the SPOA Board of Directors responsible for the vote, despite that the vote was initiated by a member at large. ULRING also expressed anger that the media had discovered the vote.

For the record, the union was not my source.

The substance of the dispute now seems to be the legality of the temporary liquor license the union was issued. According to the California Code of Regulations, Title IV, Article XI:

No license authorized by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act shall be held by, or issued or transferred to, any person holding office in, or employed by, any agency of the State of California or any of its political subdivisions when the duties of such person have to do with the enforcement of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act or any other penal provisions of law of this State prohibiting or regulating the sale, use, possession or manufacture of alcoholic beverages. This rule is deemed to apply specifically, but without limiting its effect, to any persons employed in the Department of Justice of the State of California, in any district attorney’s office, in any sheriff’s office, in any local police department, or in the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. This rule shall not prohibit the ownership of any license interest by any local law enforcement officer or local reserve law enforcement officer where the licensed premises are located in a county other than that in which he is employed as a law enforcement officer.

This rule shall apply to any person mentioned herein who has any ownership interest, directly or indirectly, in any business to be operated or conducted under an alcoholic beverage license.

The provisions of this rule shall not apply to the ownership of any stock of a corporation the stock of which is listed on a stock exchange, or to the ownership of any stock of a bank, trust company, financial institution or title company to which a license is issued in a fiduciary capacity. This rule shall not apply to any person who holds a license in the capacity of executor, administrator or guardian. This rule shall not apply to a peace officers association qualifying for a club license pursuant to Section 23428.10 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.

California Business and Professions Code Sections 23399 and 23428.10 clarify an exception for police unions.

23399 reads, in part:

An on-sale general license authorizes the sale of beer, wine, and distilled spirits for consumption on the premises where sold. Any licensee under an on-sale general license, an on-sale beer and wine license, a club license, or a veterans’ club license may apply to the department for a caterer’s permit. A caterer’s permit under an on-sale general license shall authorize the sale of beer, wine, and distilled spirits for consumption at conventions, sporting events, trade exhibits, picnics, social gatherings, or similar events held any place in the state approved by the department. A caterer’s permit under an on-sale beer and wine license shall authorize the sale of beer and wine for consumption at conventions, sporting events, trade exhibits, picnics, social gatherings, or similar events held any place in the state approved by the department. A caterer’s permit under a club license or a veterans’ club license shall authorize sales at these events only upon the licensed club premises.

(b) Any licensee under an on-sale general license or an on-sale beer and wine license may apply to the department for an event
permit. An event permit under an on-sale general license or an on-sale beer and wine license shall authorize, at events held no more frequently than four days in any single calendar year, the sale of beer, wine, and distilled spirits only under an on-sale general license or beer and wine only under an on-sale beer and wine license for consumption on property adjacent to the licensed premises and owned or under the control of the licensee. This property shall be secured and controlled by the licensee and not visible to the general public.

Here’s 23428.10:

For the purposes of this article “club” also means any peace officers association which is composed entirely of active and retired peace officers, which holds regular meetings and has regular dues, and which owns, leases, operates, or maintains an establishment for association purposes.

The union’s attorney argues that the temporary license issued by the ABC was legal, and that Ulring had no authority to challenge it.

Here’s 23399 (c):

This section shall in no way limit the power of the department to issue special licenses under the provisions of Section 24045 or to issue daily on-sale general licenses under the provisions of Section 24045.1. Consent for sales at each event shall be first obtained from the department in the form of a catering or event authorization issued pursuant to rules prescribed by it. Any event authorization shall be subject to approval by the appropriate local law enforcement agency. The fee for each catering or event authorization shall be issued at a fee not to exceed twenty-five dollars ($25) and this fee shall be deposited in the Alcohol Beverage Control Fund as provided in Section 25761.

On the other hand, here’s Section 24045, the section referenced above:

(a) All licenses, except on-sale general licenses for seasonal businesses and daily on-sale general licenses issued pursuant to Section 24045.1, shall be issued on an annual basis. However, the department may issue special licenses for the sale of beer or wine on a temporary basis for premises temporarily occupied by the licensee for a picnic, social gathering, or similar occasion at a fee equal to the actual cost of issuing the license, but not to exceed twenty-five dollars ($25) per day.

Now, I’m just a caveman, but this doesn’t read like conclusive support for the union’s case.

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