Rock Island bartender ordinance amended for felons

Rock Island bartender ordinance amended for felons

Does the punishment fit the crime? That's what Rock Island City Council had to weigh when looking at an ordinance that cost a bartender her job.

She paid her time for the crime.

“I was 17-years-old when it happened,” says Rock Island resident Heather Poston.  “I’m 29-years-old with three kids that I do have to support.”

For Heather, her passion is bartending.

“I’m good at it.  I like it.  I’m a people’s person,” says Poston.

But she lost her job after it came to light she was in violation of a city ordinance.  It’s because she was convicted for a non-violent felony more than 12 years ago.

“I just felt that that was an unjust ordinance,” says Poston.

The law stated that any convicted felon in Rock Island, no matter what the crime, could not have a job as a bartender for the 15 years following their conviction, a time span Heather felt was unfair.  

“If we judged everybody based on one mistake that they made, we wouldn't be able to trust anybody,” says Poston.  

But the Rock Island City Council voted unanimously amend that ordinance.

“If you shoplift $300 worth, that’s a felony.  So should you have to pay for 15 years for that felony when you haven’t had any problems in between?” says Rock Island Mayor Dennis E. Pauley.

They mayor also serves as the liquor commissioner for Rock Island.  Under the new ordinance, convicted felons are able to write him a letter making their case to bartend.

“Then we would look at that.  We would have the police investigate it and see if they have had any problems since that time,” says Mayor Pauley.  “They deserve a second chance.  They haven’t done really anything bad against anybody.”

Heather watched and listened as, one by one, each alderman showed their support for a change in the law and a big change in her life.  

“It’s overwhelming because one person can make a difference,” says Poston.  “It only takes one voice to change something that you feel is unjust.  It only takes one.”


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