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The other side of the Friar Tucks story

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
May 22, 2020

Paul Harvey was famous for his radio shows and commentaries. He often ended his pieces with the tag line “And now you know – the rest of the story.” As previously reported, the City of Cotati as represented by City Manager Damien O’Bid felt my articles about the Friar Tucks situation were unfair. He said they are “full of opinions or perspectives that in many cases are not facts.” In his opinion “you seem to be pushing a perspective that businesses should knowingly violate the health order and endanger both the general public and our first responders.” This story hopefully presents the city’s perspective based on our interview and communications of May 18.

His first point was “while we work with businesses to follow the health order, it’s not our interpretation or that of the Chief.” referring to Chief Parish of the Cotati PD. Further, he said “We are very sensitive to the business impact this pandemic has created”. His viewpoint was “To get through this as quickly as possible, it requires all of us to follow the health officer orders.” According to 

O’Bid, “Group events that can spread the virus and require our police to respond and possibly be exposed unnecessarily jeopardizes the safety of the community and your first responders.”

The city found out about Friar Tucks’ “Drive-in Movie” event of April 30 initially from a complaint that an “unpermitted” public event was occurring in the city parking lot adjacent to their restaurant. He stated the “event was in clear violation of the health order, the vehicle code, their liquor license, and city ordinances.” After receiving the complaint, the city contacted the Nixons and scheduled a call to discuss the issue on May 5. He also reported that on Sun., May 3, the PD received another complaint about Friar Tucks alleging “every Sunday they are having parties, loud music and people inside.” The PD did respond to that complaint and found a private gathering of 15 people in the bar. He didn’t identify if the people found were family or employees but shared that Friar Tucks was informed “the gathering was not currently allowed under the health order.” They were not cited at that time.

During the May 5 call, Parish and his Lieutenant spoke with Rudy Nixon. They explained why the gatherings were in violation of the health order. They also advised that Friar Tucks needed advanced city permission to hold the event because it’s on a city parking lot. As previously reported, Friar Tucks did hold another unpermitted “Socially Responsible Drive-in Movie” event in that parking lot on May 7. 

I asked O’Bid why the Nixons were given citations on May 12. Weren’t they told to cease the activity within an hour? Didn’t they comply? Since the movie was almost over, people departed within the time specified in the Notice of Violation. O’Bid’s explanation was “Despite these verbal, written and formal measures, Friar Tucks posted on social media that they were hosting a movie night again on May 14.” He further explained, “Based on our duty to protect the public and first responders, we issued administrative citations to Friar Tucks on Tues., May 12; one to the operator and one to the business owner.” O’Bid couldn’t confirm or refute that Chief Parish attended a meeting on May 11 with the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC). He did say it isn’t unusual for city officials to reach out to them when there is a possible violation of “Alcoholic Beverage Sales.” He also said he was unaware of any emergency order issued by the ABC later that evening. 

When questioned about why no enforcement actions were taken towards anyone present at the May 7 event except the Nixons, although the attendees and spectators were also in violation of the health order; he speculated it was because they were granted the presumption that the event was lawful if being sponsored by a business. He strongly refuted that the city was in any way targeting the Nixons or Friar Tucks for selective enforcement of the health order. He said the city responds to all complaints and violations of the health orders, trying to work with businesses to ensure compliance to those orders.

When asked about the possibility of rescinding or waiving the fines issued to the Nixons, he said he was open to having that discussion with them. He also stated, “We like the idea of a drive-in movie, and once the restrictions are lifted, we would be happy to assist with future safe events.” O’Bid said, “We want Friar Tucks to succeed.” He added they want that for all the businesses in the city. In closing, he stressed that the quickest way to get through this is for everyone to be safe, be responsible and follow the Health Officer’s Order.

And now you know -- the rest of the story.