A beleaguered Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Las Vegas can keep its liquor license for now, but members and supporters also received a stern warning Monday: The post cannot continue to be a trouble spot.
VFW Post 10057 was before the Las Vegas City Council once again because of reports of fights and crime at the H Street social club. Council members ultimately decided to let the post have another crack at cleaning up its act.
“There has to be a conscious effort … that you move back toward being a fraternal organization, and not what it’s turned into,” Councilman Larry Brown said.
“If you don’t decide to change, I don’t think we can make this work.”
Councilman Ricki Barlow said the post has been a presence in his ward his entire life and that he used to frequent the bar — but he wasn’t feeling sentimental.
“Initially, I had no problem with revoking the license,” he said. “But the post has been around for a long time and the post has helped a lot of people.
“The negative activity that has been taking place at the post has to go away. It’s going to take all of us … to push that negative element out of the parking lot,” he said.
Albert Young, who manages the post’s bar, declined to comment after the meeting. He has previously said that the post could not continue to operate without revenue from liquor sales.
The VFW post has been before the council several times because of crime and regulatory issues.
The complaint against the post notes that drugs and guns have been seized in the parking lot, fights and robberies have occurred on the property, and post employees have had trouble complying with rules such as providing work cards or maintaining a registry of members and guests.
Las Vegas police documented 188 calls for service at the club from January 2005 to November 2007, a number officers at the meeting characterized as “extremely high.”
City litigator Bill Henry chalked it up to “folks who have no understanding or respect for the law or their privileged license.”
Despite post claims that they’ve worked hard in the face of great adversity, Henry recommended yanking the license, saying the post had repeatedly failed to operate the bar responsibly.
“This restricted liquor license … is a magnet for criminal activity,” he said. “It is unsustainable where it is, which in the words of Albert Young is a very high-crime area.”
Mayor Oscar Goodman wasn’t buying it.
“I disagree with a lot of what I’ve heard here today,” he said. “I don’t think that this veterans’ post is the cause of the problem. This is a problem that is more endemic to our community.”
The council unanimously imposed additional restrictions on the post’s license, including only being open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and requiring more and better-trained security guards.
Young and the post’s attorney, Rex Bell, said the group was willing to go further by installing security cameras and, possibly, moving to a new location.
“They know that it’s privileged. They know that this activity cannot continue,” Bell said. “I believe I can assure this body that this won’t ever happen again.”
About 40 post members and supporters gathered at City Hall to watch, and comment on, the proceedings. The mood was decidedly unfriendly at times when the audience felt the post was being maligned or misrepresented.
There was scattered applause after the council’s decision, however, and people called out “Thank you, Barlow!” and “I love you, Mayor Goodman!” as they shuffled out of the room.
Contact reporter Alan Choate at email@example.com or (702) 229-6435.