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Tougher social host law due?
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Ceres councilmembers disliked a proposed Social Host ordinance Monday, saying they will order a tougher one instead.

The council wants misdemeanor charges applied in a regular court for those caught allowing parties on their premises where minors are consuming alcohol.

A proposed ordinance would have made it illegal to host parties where minors drink but would have slapped them with a cost recovery fee and a $500 fine for the first offense in a 12 month period, $1,000 fine for the third offense and $1,500 for the third. The ordinance would have created an appeals process before an admininstrative hearing officer employed by the city.

But Mayor Anthony Cannella said he doesn't want the punishment watered down.

"An administrative fine trivializes the act," said Cannella, who preferred tougher punishment. "It should be handled like a typical crime in the city of Ceres."

Robert Stanford, a Modesto resident who asked the council to adopt the ordinance, said he is happy the council wants to go the tougher route.

Steve Breckenridge, a critic of the administrative fines - he called them "taxes" - was pleased to hear of the council's intent. He said the ordinance as written was unconstitutional and claimed that it robbed people of due process.

Cannella stated his opinion that the ordinance was constitutional.