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ALBERTSONS' BEER LICENSE SUSPENDED

Albertsons, one of the city's largest grocery stores, cannot sell beer again until April 12.

The City Council Wednesday suspended the store's license for selling the beverage to minors on two occasions.The suspension will cost the store about $3,000 in net revenues, said Ronald L. Russell, Albertsons attorney.

Police informants bought beer from two cashiers on Sept. 25 last year and again on Feb. 18. The city's ordinance states the council can suspend a beer license for 30 days if clerks sell to underage decoys in two of three attempts.

Prior to the sales, Albertsons employees refused to sell to underage decoys on five occasions.

Russell argued the city should not suspend the store's license because of its good track record. He also suggested the decoy operation may produce unfair results.

"The demeanor of a decoy is not the same as a typical minor who comes in to buy," he said. "The decoys aren't worried about retribution."

He said the city should consider returning to its ordinance two years ago that stated suspension could occur after three of four attempts.

"Two out of three may be unfair but it's effective," said Councilwoman Renee Coon. "Everyone that comes before us says their workers just made an honest mistake. I don't see how we can treat Albertsons any different."

Instead of suspension, the store offered to give the city $3,000 for enforcement or for donation to a drug education program.

But City Council members passed on the offer.