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Thread: WSJ article: Irving, Texas, Alcohol Ban Faces Nov. 4 Challenge

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    WSJ article: Irving, Texas, Alcohol Ban Faces Nov. 4 Challenge

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122565413973491213.html

    NOVEMBER 2, 2008, 9:30 P.M. ET
    Irving, Texas, Alcohol Ban Faces Nov. 4 Challenge
    By DAVID KESMODEL
    IRVING, Texas -- Scores of communities in Texas and other states have loosened their restrictions on alcohol sales in recent years, but this Dallas suburb of 200,000 has been a glaring exception to the rule.

    Twice in recent years, Irving voters have rejected proposals to allow the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores and other retail outlets. Irving has long permitted the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants, but it is the largest city in Texas that continues to ban sales in stores throughout its city limits, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

    Now, proponents of changing Irving's laws think they have a new weapon in their corner as voters revisit the issue again Tuesday: intense voter interest in this year's presidential race. Heavy turnout, especially among younger voters, could tip the scales in favor of the measure, which was defeated by a margin of 52% to 48% in 2006.

    Proponents are also counting on another weapon: a pair of Texas political strategists who have built a thriving business spearheading pro-alcohol measures across the Lone Star State.

    John Hatch, 44 years old, and Sissy Day, 65, have advised business or civic leaders in more than 70 Texas communities on efforts to revamp alcohol laws. In turn, they have helped make the state a lot less dry.

    The two have worked together since 2003, when a new state law made it easier to place pro-alcohol initiatives on local ballots. Ever since, they have courted consulting contracts to run petition drives, and, if those succeed, to urge voters to say yes on Election Day. The two plot strategies for finding enough people in a community to sign a petition to get a pro-alcohol bill placed on the ballot. If they are successful, they then create marketing materials to promote the measure before an election--often using mailers--and work with local leaders to identify teams of people to rally voters before and on Election Day.

    Often, they do detective work to find out who is backing the opposition. Sometimes, it turns out to be alcohol retailers in nearby wet towns that fear the loss of business. In Irving in 2006, a Dallas-area convenience store chain that sold alcohol helped finance the city's opposition group, Irving First.

    The team has been involved in about 140 referendums and claims a success rate of about 80%. Their company, Texas Petition Strategies Inc., brings in annual revenue of about $2 million, says Mr. Hatch, a beer drinker and churchgoer.

    "When we started, I thought this had about a three-year life, but I've been proved wrong,'' said Ms. Day, while driving her Lexus to a campaign breakfast recently.

    But Irving represents one of the duo's biggest challenges. Mr. Hatch and Ms. Day first worked with proponents of the pro-alcohol measure here in 2006, suffering a rare defeat, but they improved the outcome from 2004, when it lost by a margin of 63% to 37%.

    If Irving residents approve the beer-and-wine proposal, it will mark a big victory for chain retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co., which have been pushing for more favorable alcohol laws across Texas. QuikTrip Corp., a convenience-store chain, Wal-Mart and Kroger have helped finance the political action committee spearheading the pro-alcohol effort here. Chain retailers have been supporting such efforts in Texas because selling alcohol generates relatively high profit margins.

    Proponents of changing Texas alcohol laws also argue that legalizing alcohol sales bolsters sales-tax revenue and limits the need to raise property taxes, an argument that has carried more weight with voters than objections based on moral concerns or quality-of-life issues. About 300 alcohol elections have been held in Texas in the last five years, and about 80% have passed, according to the state alcohol commission. Irving is one of more than 40 pro-alcohol measures on ballots across Texas on Tuesday, the agency says.

    Texas is the focal point of a wider shift toward more lenient alcohol laws across the U.S. Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico are among at least a half-dozen states where communities will vote Tuesday whether to loosen their alcohol laws, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., a Washington, D.C., trade group. A half-dozen communities in North Carolina last year passed laws that made them "wet" in some fashion, as did certain towns in Ohio, Georgia and Kentucky.

    In Irving, the committee advocating the referendum is made up of business leaders who think beer-and-wine sales will both help existing retailers thrive and help the city attract retailers that otherwise wouldn't come here.

    "We feel pretty positive" about this year's vote, says John B. Watson, treasurer of the proponents' political action committee. "The trend in Texas is very clear."

    Mr. Watson says Irving residents today drive to Dallas or other neighboring communities to get alcohol, so the city bears the social costs associated with alcohol whether or not sales happen here. "We'd like to get the sales-tax benefit,'' he says.

    But Irving has proved to be an unusual case because it is almost two cities. North Irving, where Mr. Watson's group draws much of its support, is a major commercial center and includes a number of affluent, gated communities and other deed-restricted areas. South Irving, by contrast, is older, more middle class, and has a heavier concentration of strip malls and convenience stores.

    Irving First, the citizens' group, argues that permitting beer and wine sales will diminish the quality of life in south Irving, while having little negative impact in the northern part of the city. South Irving would account for 128 of the 161 existing convenience stores, grocery stores and other retailers that would be able to sell beer and wine, says Clyde DeLoach, a 72-year-old retiree who lives on the south side and is a member of Irving First.

    If those stores begin selling alcohol, they could draw loiterers and raise crime levels, says his wife, Ms. Beca DeLoach, 64. "We currently don't have panhandling, underage drinking and loitering,'' says Ms. DeLoach, who, like her husband, is Baptist and abstains from alcohol.

    Write to David Kesmodel at david.kesmodel@wsj.com

  2. #2
    Skyscraper junkie gchrisbailey's Avatar
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    I certainly hope I can finally NOT have to go to Coppell to buy wine...it is completely ridiculous...

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    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    As I said when Mesquite had its elections: if C-stores are allowed to sell beer, it will be bad for me, because they will have less space available for specialty sodas. 80% of the shelf space will go to beer, 15% will go to various flavors of Monster Energy Drink, and 5% will be split between Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, and Dr Pepper. Prefer RC? Fugeddaboutit.

    I'm very happy that Mesquite voters split the decision: no beer at 7-11, but alcohol sales were ok'd in restaurants.

    I very seldom drink anything alcoholic, so driving to another suburb isn't really a problem. If the beer proponents say I'm imposing my moral values on them, then I'll ask what they think that "Palin!" bumper sticker on their pickup truck really means.
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

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    Skyscraper Member Spjz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertB
    If the beer proponents say I'm imposing my moral values on them, then I'll ask what they think that "Palin!" bumper sticker on their pickup truck really means.
    Please don't take offense RobertB, but if you vote to forbid local merchants from selling alcohol, then you and Sarah Palin have at least one thing in common.

    If this initiative in Irving is successful, the I can only hope that Oakcliff is the next domino to fall. Driving from North Oakcliff to Industrial Blvd may not be the same as driving to another city to buy booze, but when you consider that one of the biggest advantages to living in a big city is conveniently located goods and services (as opposed to the quality of local schools) then it is a bit annoying to drive across the river.

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    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spjz
    Please don't take offense RobertB, but if you vote to forbid local merchants from selling alcohol, then you and Sarah Palin have at least one thing in common.

    If this initiative in Irving is successful, the I can only hope that Oakcliff is the next domino to fall. Driving from North Oakcliff to Industrial Blvd may not be the same as driving to another city to buy booze, but when you consider that one of the biggest advantages to living in a big city is conveniently located goods and services (as opposed to the quality of local schools) then it is a bit annoying to drive across the river.
    Yikes! I can't imagine that anyone in North Oak Cliff wants the sort of "prosperity" evidenced by the thriving businesses along Post-Industrial Boulevard and Lamar St.

    Now, where does a man have to go in this town to find a good moose-huntin' gun?
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

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    Skyscraper Member Spjz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertB
    Yikes! I can't imagine that anyone in North Oak Cliff wants the sort of "prosperity" evidenced by the thriving businesses along Post-Industrial Boulevard and Lamar St.
    Perhaps you're confusing causation with correlation. But if what you're saying is correct, then the time proven success of shopping centers in Lakewood, North Dallas, Oaklawn, Knox Henderson, and the Park Cities must be due to the nice, clean, well lit, businesses that sell beer, wine, AND liquor to adults who wish to enjoy them. My home town of Arlington just added wine to grocery stores a few years back and I'm still waiting to see civilization collapse and give way to anarchy and chaos. It hasn't happened yet

    I think the plight of Industrial, Northwest Highway, South Dallas, etc. is due to the arbitrary boundaries that encourage clusters of several stores to occupy a small area because places like Lake Highlands, Pleasant Grove, and Oakcliff don't allow their residents to purchase an otherwise legal product in their own community. South Dallas has paid for it and will continue to pay for it until we adopt more prudent policies.

    Now, where does a man have to go in this town to find a good moose-huntin' gun?
    Rays Sporting Goods on Singleton*. If Ray can't kill it, it must be immortal.





    *Of course you must remember to pick up your bottle of Mickeys on Industrial, cause once you cross the Trinity, there ain't no booze!

  7. #7
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spjz
    My home town of Arlington just added wine to grocery stores a few years back and I'm still waiting to see civilization collapse and give way to anarchy and chaos. It hasn't happened yet
    Are you sure? Election day isn't over yet!

    You make a very good point about the artificial concentration of hooch shops, combined with historic neglect of South Dallas. Perhaps the corner liquor store is a straw man, preventing discussion of the bigger problems afflicting the neighborhoods. But there's no doubt that they're one of many contributing factors.

    As for Irving, I'd still vote against it. Even if my love of RC Cola is the only unassailable defense I can give.
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

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    High-Rise Member muncien's Avatar
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    Irving Panel recommends raising alcohol sales limit from 40% to 70%. Whether City Counsel will approve their recommendation is up in the air. This would be a huge boost for Irving/Las Colinas... Particularly with Water Street just around the corner and the possible resuscitation of the Irving Entertainment Center/Peninsula developments.
    http://www.dallasnews.com/news/commu...ion=reregister

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    Hey, Ive been dry since 1978. I finially quit even though it was really tough . I feel the city of irving is shooting itself in the foot by not allowing alcohol . People who do choose to drink will simply take their money elsewhere ....................

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    High-Rise Member muncien's Avatar
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    Irving's 60/40 law is up for vote in tonight's city counsel meeting, however there's a good chance they postpone. Fingers crossed...

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    High-Rise Member muncien's Avatar
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    Unique solution to Irving's drinking problem... Five special districts that can petition independently to have higher limits (possibly up to 30/70). Nearly all of south Irving is outside of those five districts and would remain at current 60/40 limits. I didn't see this coming, but it's actually a pretty good idea.
    http://irvingblog.dallasnews.com/201...er-areas.html/

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    High-Rise Member muncien's Avatar
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    Huge step up for Irving...
    After a six hour session last night, the city counsel approved raising the annual alcohol sales limit from 40% to 70% in the urban center and from 40% to 50% across the rest of the city. This is great news for the Urban Center which has had development thwarted because of these silly limits.

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    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    ^It's about time. When are liquor stores going to be allowed?
    The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart.

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    High-Rise Member muncien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tamtagon View Post
    ^It's about time. When are liquor stores going to be allowed?
    Probably 2113... One step at a time. I honestly have no problem driving up NW HWY to get liquor. It's stupid, but workable.

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    So, someone explain this to me. Why are there convenient stores all over 75061 that are obviously 99% liquor sales.
    What is the difference between Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers?
    Mechanical Engineers build weapons, Civil Engineers build targets.

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