Earlier this year, Elisheba Drayton applied to upgrade the alcohol license for the Faire Gallery Cafe on Capitol Hill from serving only beer and wine to serving hard liquor. "I was hoping to be able to sell spirits to make more revenue, like most people in this economy," she says while sitting in the unassuming little venue, surrounded by a photo exhibit of bicycles in India.

Although the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) appeared ready to approve the application, City Attorney Tom Carr objected. He sent the liquor board a letter in early June that said the city "has concerns with the health, safety, and welfare of the community." A bench warrant had been issued against Drayton's husband, Matthew—whom she married the previous May and who was required to cosign on the liquor license of the three-year-old business—for failing to take an alcohol class associated with a misdemeanor charge in 2006. He was charged with a DUI that the prosecutor amended to negligent driving, which Matthew accepted. He says he didn't know he'd missed the class or had a bench warrant (a common problem with cases represented by public defenders, who often abandon clients before cases conclude, his attorney says) until the city mentioned it in the letter. Within two weeks, he had taken the class and the court quashed the warrant.

But Carr refused to withdraw his objection.

"Everything they objected to in their letter was fixed," says Drayton's attorney, David Osgood. He sent a letter in July asking the liquor board to issue the permit.

Liquor board spokesman Brian Smith said in July, "When a city objects, it carries an awful lot of weight." Nonetheless, the board's licensing director overrode the city's objection and approved a permit for the Faire Gallery on August 12. Now the Draytons could have the license, right?

Not according to Carr, apparently. (Carr didn't return a call.) According to Osgood, WSLCB licensing supervisor Sharon Hendricks says the City of Seattle will appeal WSLCB's decision. In that case, the Faire Gallery's permit application must go before an administrative law judge, says a spokeswoman for the WSLCB. Depending on the caseload, the judge can "usually hear the case within three to six months." Then the judge has 90 days to issue a decision, and then that ruling goes before the liquor control board for a final decision.

"Tom Carr knows that he doesn't have a case, that he's doing a year's worth of damage. It's an asshole move," Osgood says.

Drayton says getting a liquor permit "is the difference between staying open. Waiting nine months? I could be closed." She adds, "Tom Carr doesn't know our financial situation, but he obviously wants us caught up in red tape." recommended