It was a busy week for wet-dry news. After the jump, what happened and what it may mean. And let’s get the disclaimers out of the way first: I’m probably going to vote for both wet-dry ballot issues, I’m not related to the Sigel’s liquor store chain, and I’m not related to Andy Siegel, the attorney representing the dry side.
• Keep the Dollars in Dallas, the group pushing the referendum, released its study to support its claim that going wet could bring in $20 to $30 million more each year in tax revenue. One assertion: That people who buy beer or wine in grocery stores in previously dry areas will also buy other items, like milk and bread, thus boosting tax coffers. Which is all well and good for the retailers, but won’t do much for tax revenue. Texas’ sales tax, after all, doesn’t apply to food. No doubt I have missed something here, and will be told what it is when Wamre and I attend a media lunch on Wednesday in which Keep the Dollars will discuss its study. I will take copious notes and report back.
• USA Today published a nifty look at wet-dry elections across the country and in Texas: “At a time when many states are debating marijuana policies — 13 have decriminalized possession and 15 have medical marijuana programs — the fight in Dry America is over alcohol.” It would be nice to see this sort of perspective in the local reporting about the election.
• Dallas plan commissioner Mike Davis, who represents part of Oak Cliff and southern Dallas, had an interesting post on his blog. Davis, who says he is undecided about the election, noted that “Here’s the question: if there is so much uncaptured revenue with respect to liquor sales in Dallas, with supposed reports of affluent city residents having to drive miles to buy liquor, why was [the Majestic on Greenville] closed?”
• A Texas judge has ordered the city to respond to Siegel’s various legal motions to halt the election by July 19. Siegel claims Keep the Dollars didn’t gather enough signatures to get the two issues on the November ballot, and throws in some legal razzle-dazzle concerning state law, history, and wet-dry boundaries for good measure. Those of you on the wet side will be glad to hear that Lou Bright, the former general counsel for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, told me he expects the judge to eventually uphold the election. Though, he noted, no lawyer who knows anything is ever completely sure about what a judge will do.
• And finally, Siegel was accused of not just being the lawyer for the drys, but of being part of the Sigel’s liquor store chain in a Channel 5 report that aired over the weekend. That’s what a Bolsa spokesman said, anyway. I feel your pain, Andy. The Sigel family hasn’t owned Sigel’s for years, and Andy (like myself) doesn’t spell his name the same way.