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Musician wins settlement over Hayward's live music restrictions

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A far northern Wisconsin town will have to pay more than $600,000 to a former club owner who challenged the local music ordinance as being unconstitutional.

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Molly Otis's Pavilion Wine Bar was raided by Hayward police in 2007 because they were playing live music after 10 p.m. Last January, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the music noise ordinance was unconstitutional, and that elected city officials were at fault.

Otis' attorney Glenn Stoddard says the ordinance wasn't going after noisy places with high decibel levels. He says they were going after live music.

"It's really not a matter of volume as it was singling out music and a business," he said.

Otis says they were singling out her bar.

"They were handing out music permits to other bars (so they could perform live music) until one o'clock in the morning and denying me completely," she said. "That's random and you can't do that in America."

Speaking as a musician, Otis says this long fight was worth the expense and stress. She says winning this lawsuit is striking a chord with many musicians.

"Oh, absolutely. I can't tell you. I go all over the place, musicians are thanking me," she said. "The fallout on all of this stuff is that little bars, little clubs aren't hiring people because they're getting in trouble with small towns and small townships about music and noise at night. When a bar can't pay a band, musicians are out of work."

Ironically, Otis has since sold her club to work full-time as a music writer and performer.

A phone call to Hayward's mayor and city clerk were not returned.

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