The owner of a Bloomington bar accused of repeatedly violating COVID-19 safety rules has hired a well-known attorney who has been at the center of resistance to public health guidance statewide.
Cadillac Jack’s, 1507 S. Main St., faces three liquor license violations for allegedly not enforcing the state’s mask requirement on several occasions over Labor Day weekend. Authorities ordered everyone to leave the bar early Sunday morning, city officials said.
City officials said Cadillac Jack’s was the only establishment to ignore “multiple warnings” as Bloomington Police conducted around 50 compliance checks that weekend.
Public health experts say face coverings are one of the most effective tools to slow the spread of COVID-19, particularly when used universally in a community setting. The county’s health department just last week said it’s seen “increased transmission related to a lack of social distancing” in bars and other settings.
The Bloomington Liquor Commission was scheduled to discuss the violations and the bar's liquor license during a meeting Thursday afternoon. But that meeting was delayed at the request of bar owner William Bentley’s newly retained lawyer, Thomas DeVore.
The Cadillac Jack’s hearing in front of the liquor commission will be rescheduled for later in September. City attorney George Boyle said settlement negotiations are underway.
‘Under political attack’
DeVore, based in southern Illinois, has been involved in litigation across Illinois related to COVID-19, usually in opposition to the Pritzker administration. He represented state Rep. Darren Bailey, a Republican from Xenia, Ill., who made headlines for challenging the legality of the governor’s emergency actions on COVID. Devore also sued the Bloomington-based Illinois High School Association over whether it had the authority to enforce mask mandates for student-athletes.
DeVore has argued that bar and restaurant owners are “under political attack.” He’s also cast doubt on the accuracy of COVID-19 numbers released by public health officials.
City officials said Bentley was warned repeatedly—dating back to early August—that his business was violating public health guidelines. The McLean County Health Department reportedly sent him a letter Aug. 21, requested Bentley to submit “policies and procedures regarding compliance with the guidelines within five business days.” The city said he never did that.
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