There were TV cameras. There was a smiling child. There was even a political consultant looking for work. A few thoughts after attending the news conference to announce the start of Progress Dallas’ campaign to allow Dallas voters to decide whether retailers across the city can sell beer and wine and whether restaurants can sell alcohol without private club restrictions.
• No word yet on whether parts of Oak Cliff will have to vote twice in the referendum (if it gets on the ballot). John Hatch of Texas Petition Strategies said he is still waiting on the county to deliver a map of the 1956 wet-dry election. As noted previously, if the area that voted dry in 1956 was “wholly contained” within Dallas, voters will have to cast ballots to repeal the 1956 election and vote to approve the Progress Dallas issues.
• Several of the reporters in attendance seemed very confused by Dallas’ wet-dry laws, which doesn’t bode well for news coverage of the campaign. Kroger’s Gary Huddleston, who is Progress Dallas’ chairman, told me he thought he was going to have to spend a lot of time explaining how the system works.
• Voters can sign referendum petitions in Kroger and Walmart-owned stores, as well as Whole Foods and Albertsons. Huddleston said petitions would also be available in selected retailers and restaurants.
• Matt Spillers, who owns Eno’s Pizza Tavern in Oak Cliff, said he would be able to cut liquor prices in his restaurant if voters eliminated the private club rules. I wonder: Will other restaurants agree to follow suit?
• Adding beer and wine sales throughout Dallas could add as much as $10 million annually to city sales tax revenue, Huddleston said. That’s about half of what Far North Dallas city councilman Ron Natinsky estimated beer and wine sales would bring in when I talked to him last month.