On Thursday April 21,2011 at the Portland City Hall in room 209, Thomas Manning will get to be heard again by the Board of Appeals in Portland to defend his liquor and entertainment licenses for the Portland bar known as the Cactus Club. The public is encouraged to attend. Previously On February 7, 2011 the City Council once again denied both the entertainment license and liquor license of the Cactus Club owned by Thomas Manning for the second year in a row. They had previously denied his license the year before and he won his appeal on a technicality. The City of Portland had failed to properly notify him in writing the last time around in the time frame allowed by law, although they had notified him orally within the time frame. The City Council determined not to have it happen again, followed the letter of the law and built a very substantial case against renewal.
Thomas Manning took the better part of an hour to present his opening statement which turned out to be the majority of his defense for his licenses to be renewed. He spelled out all the other bars calls for service in the vicinity of his bar and attempted to say that although his bar had 32 calls for service, it was the patrons of Joe’s Slice Bar next door that were responsible for all the fighting people were complaining about. He went on to say that the only time he had a fight in or around his bar was when a serviceman didn’t want to leave and he got loud and threatening. He claimed his staff just walked him out of the bar and that was the end of the incident.
Several of the calls for service used by the Portland Police department for the recommended denial of his licensing were for patrons who had been over served and then just placed outside to fend for themselves. There was one occasion where a female patron had been so intoxicated that when emergency personnel had arrived, she was unresponsive and needed to be ambulated to a hospital. Mr Manning claimed that although she was outside his bar, she had not actually been inside it. He later countered his own argument and said that she had been in the club earlier that evening but had not been served there.
As this prior hearing, which was well attended by the public, only one member of the public presented a counter argument to Mr. Mannings claims. Charles E Bragdon stated,”Mr. Manning is standing here being less than truthful if he expects us to believe he is the victim here. I personally have had six experiences that are not documented in the calls for service used by the police in this case.”
Mr Bragdon continued and said, “On one occasion in February of 2010 I was parked outside of the Cactus Club and witnessed the doorman forcing two individuals out of the club who it seemed had been fighting inside. Once outside they immediate broke out into a fight right on the hood of my taxi. Several members of the public separated them and one of the individuals staggered towards Amigo’s tavern on Dana street. I watched as the fight continued in the Wharf St alleyway by Amigo’s. Although there was no officer response when the fight was happening in front of the Cactus Club, they did show up for the fight when it was by Amigo’s. I am sure this call for service was attributed to Amigo’s instead of the Cactus Club.”
Mr Bragdon also stated,”This was not the only incident I was a personal witness too though. On 5 other separate occasions the doormen of the Cactus Club walked out and placed in my taxi people who should have never been placed in a taxi. I would say that they actually should have been transported by ambulance to a hospital. I had to call for assistance on all 5 of these incidents to have the customers removed from the car due to their unresponsiveness. I think that if I had this many experiences personally then it is clear that this is a bigger problem than we are being led to believe. I am sure all of these cases are calls for service not attributed to his bar, although they should have been. I urge you to deny the licenses of the Cactus Club.”
Mr. Manning continued to play the victim with his presentation, but the City Council saw through his argument and decided that the Police had made enough of a case to justify the denial of both licenses. Jill Duson said that Mr. Bragdon’s testimony certainly made it easier to substantiate the case presented by them for denial.
So as the drama continues to unfold in Augusta for a second year in a row, we will get to see if the Board of Appeals once again re-instates the licenses denied by the City of Portland. If the denials are upheld this would bring the count to 5 of the establishments owned by Mr Manning and closed by the city for poor management and violations of the State Liquor laws.