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Dry Dallas update

Lots of money being spent to remove alcohol sales restrictions in Dallas.

The group behind next month’s ballot measures to expand the sale of alcohol in “dry” areas of Dallas has raised nearly $1 million – mainly from grocery stores, restaurants, real estate developers, hotels and other businesses that stand to benefit from passage.

Retailers have contributed the most money (about $700,000), followed by restaurants and hotels (about $140,000), commercial real estate companies ($106,000) and community members (nearly $3,000), said Gary Huddleston, co-chairman of the Keep the Dollars in Dallas campaign (formerly Progress Dallas) and a Kroger executive.

The money has been used for the petition drive to add the two initiatives to the Nov. 2 ballot, legal costs, advertising and other campaign expenses, Huddleston said.

In less than two weeks, Dallas residents will decide whether to eliminate dry areas citywide for retail beer and wine sales – largely in the southern sector. They’ll also vote on a second initiative to let restaurants in dry areas sell drinks to customers without requiring them to join a private club.

The Keep the Dollars in Dallas campaign says additional sales tax revenue from expanded alcohol sales could help the cash-needy city. Opponents contend expanded beer and wine sales would increase public intoxication, impaired driving and other violations.

“You’ll have a rash of folks – a flood of new beer and wine operators – on every corner of the city,” said Andy Siegel, a Dallas attorney who represents a coalition of churches and alcohol retailers opposing expanded beer and wine sales at retailers. “Like it or not, these stores with beer and wine permits often become a hotbed of criminal activity.”

New sales could generate $33.4 million in additional tax revenue annually and create 29,000 jobs in Dallas, according to an economic study by Waco economist Ray Perryman for Keep the Dollars in Dallas. A city of Dallas report estimated $11.3 million in annual sales tax benefits.

As I’ve said before, I’m a bit skeptical of the sales tax projections, but it doesn’t really matter to me. I’d vote for this because I see no reason for these silly restrictions to be on the books. The fearmongering by the opponents is far more ridiculous as far as I’m concerned.

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  1. mollusk says:

    During the brief time I lived in Dallas, I never failed to be perplexed by how my morality was going to be preserved by having to drive across the street to buy my beer after buying my groceries.

  2. Patrick says:

    It’s not just fear-mongering, Charles. Right here in the Bible it says that Jesus turned water into….uh, no wait.

    Hang on. It’s in here somewhere.

    I’ll get back to you.