Ladybug Club facing 60-day suspension

CarouselRenewalRegular patrons of the Ladybug Club, 618-622 N. Water St., will temporarily have to find another place to spend their nights. Starting Dec. 21, the club will be on a 60-day suspension mandated by Milwaukee’s Common Council.

During a Nov. 17 meeting, the council’s Licenses Committee originally recommended a 20-day suspension of owner Habib Manjee’s liquor license, despite a police department recommendation that the license not be renewed at all. Aldermen Bob Bauman and Bob Donovan, both of whom do not sit on the committee, also took issue with the committee’s recommendation.

“At the very least, the committee should have sent another message to Ladybug in the form of a 60- or 90-day suspension,” Donovan said in a statement.

Bauman, who represents the downtown area where the club is located, proposed an amendment to change the 20-day suspension to 60 days in accordance with a model of “progressive discipline” the council has used before in licensing matters, he said. The council approved the amendment last week by a 10-4 vote.

In 2008, the club received a 45-day suspension of its liquor license after MPD filed eight reports involving the club. The club also received warning letters with its license renewal in 2006 and 2007, Bauman said at a Dec. 1 Common Council meeting.

“(The Ladybug Club) was an asset to the community and an asset to the downtown entertainment scene” in its first years of operation, Bauman said, but became a progressively worse “problem” as more and more police reports were filed in conjunction with the club’s operation.

This year, there were 18 new police reports associated with the club, including underage drinking, disorderly conduct, battery and one shooting outside the club. Many of the reports involved police doing crowd or traffic control outside the club.

Donovan was also concerned that the repeated use of police resources at the club jeopardized public safety.

Alderman Milele Coggs, vice-chair of the Licenses Committee, voted in committee for the 20-day suspension of the club’s liquor license. She supported the committee’s original recommendation and said it is unfair to hold establishments responsible for crowd control issues.

A person answering the phone at the club Monday afternoon had no comment, but in an objections letter to the City Clerk, Manjee’s attorney Michael Maistelman said the reasoning for the original 20-day suspension was unjust and “not substantiated by any reliable evidence.”

Coggs and Aldermen Nik Kovac, Ashanti Hamilton and Willie Wade voted against Bauman’s amendment.