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Countdown to Dallas/Wet Dry Vote
BY Ken Kalthoff

Dallas is days away from a vote that could allow citywide beer and wine sales, ending a confusing patchwork of dry areas once and for all.

"It's time to get rid of the antiquated rules that have been governing the liquor laws in the city of Dallas for years,” said Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce President Bob Stimson.

Proposition 1 on Tuesday's Dallas ballot would allow beer and wine sales in grocery and convenience stores.

"We view that as a good thing," Stimson said. "It will help those stores stay in business and bring more jobs."

Stores in more than half of the city are currently forbidden from selling alcohol.

Similar measures have been defeated before, and opponents are not giving in easily this time.

Councilman Dwaine Caraway said his constituents bought their homes in a dry area expecting it to stay that way.

"They live there because they like that particular environment," he said.

Caraway said he believes the referendum could overwhelm some neighborhoods with increased crime.

"That is something that we've worked so hard against, and that is something that, should this pass, those communities will have to deal with (in) the next 50 years,” Caraway said.

But Stimson said other North Texas cities have allowed similar rules over the past few years.

"Look at Irving. Look at Duncanville. Look at Desoto. Look at Cedar Hill," he said. "All of them have passed the exact same ordinance that we're looking at, and it has not had the negative impact that people talk about in those communities. I don’t expect to see it here."

But both Caraway and Stimson support Proposition 2, a measure that would end private-club rules for restaurants in dry neighborhoods.

Currently, dry-area restaurants that sell alcohol must register customers as members of a private club.

Extra record keeping is required, and alcohol distributors are forbidden from delivering to dry-area restaurants. Certain employees of the restaurant must purchase and carry the alcoholic beverage products to the business themselves.

"It's very antiquated," said Mary Jack, owner of Jack’s Backyard near Commerce Street and Sylvan Avenue in West Dallas.

She said the extra complications amount to an additional $35,000 in annual expenses that businesses in wet areas can avoid.

The process discourages restaurants from opening in dry areas such as West Dallas and Oak Cliff, Jack said.

"If we could just be on the same playing field with the rest of the city of Dallas that's wet, I think we’d all be happy," she aid. "Plus the customer -- it's an extra hassle for them."

Stimson and Caraway say they want to support restaurants and are encouraging voters to approve Proposition 2.