Let’s get real about alcohol in Tyler.

Scotch & Water

Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on Newstalk 600 KTBB, Friday, Feb. 22, 2008

Once again, alcohol will be on a ballot in Tyler. This time, as a result of a successful petition drive by those wishing to do away with the whole private club membership dance as a pre-requisite to having a drink with your dinner in a restaurant.

The good news about alcohol sales in Texas is that the decisions are made at the local level. Alcohol sales are precinct option in Texas. It’s government close to home driven by those closest to the results thereof. That’s a good thing.

For decades, the people living in Tyler have decided on numerous occasions to keep the county “dry”. Now if you’re reading this on line, you’ll see that I put the word “dry” in quotes because in truth, Smith County is anything but dry. There’s plenty of drinking going on in Tyler. All of the restaurants are, and here are some quotation marks again, “Private clubs with memberships available.” There’s no one going to Mercado tonight who wants a margarita that won’t get one.

Those who oppose alcohol sales do so for understandable reasons. Alcohol is not a benign product. Drill in to most traffic fatalities and you’ll find alcohol at the root. Domestic crime and violence, same thing. Consume too much alcohol and you become unfit to drive or be seen in public. You become a menace, a danger to yourself and others. And for many people, any alcohol is too much. Alcoholism has destroyed countless millions of families in our history and continues to do so to this day. If you don’t like alcohol I understand why.

Since this segment is sponsored by a wine maker and retailer and since I’m about to do a commercial on drinking wine, it’s obvious that I consume alcohol. I do. I like a nice glass of wine with my dinner. I treat myself to a scotch in the evening on weekends. If I host a social event, we serve alcohol. With respect to consuming alcohol, I know the rules and I abide by them.

So do most people.

But the ones who don’t cause huge problems and thus, many in our community have a desire to see that no alcohol is sold. If you’re in that group, I respect your position.

But here’s a memo to you folks. It ain’t working.

Smith County is awash in beer, wine and liquor. Countless thousands of gallons of gasoline are burned every month driving to Kilgore or Coffee City. There’s no chain restaurant in the market that doesn’t serve beer, wine and cocktails. The whole private club thing is a farce. The sale of alcohol is not being restricted. The same amount of alcohol is being consumed per capita here as anywhere else in Texas.

So why this ridiculous “private club” process? Why do we want to make it more difficult for Brinker International to open restaurants in our city? Why do we want to create more paperwork and cost for entrepreneurs who are willing to risk their own capital to give us another dining choice?

Let’s join the 21st century.

I know that many are afraid that opening up alcohol sales in restaurants is the first step toward package liquor sales in Tyler. You may be right. But prohibition didn’t work. People are going to buy alcohol. Hey it’s Friday. If you don’t believe me, today’s a good day to go park yourself near the bridge over Lake Palestine on Highway 155 and watch all of your friends make a liquor store run this afternoon.

Why do we want the sales tax revenue to leave the county if we’re not curtailing the behavior?

Liquor stores can become eyesores. But the Town of Addison, a suburb of Dallas, voted years ago to allow package sales because a large swath of north Dallas is dry. They saw a business opportunity but they saw the potential downside. So liquor sales take place within strict zoning guidelines. There are rules about storefront appearance and signage. The Town of Addison sat down and thought out a rational way to sell package liquor and they have prospered for having done so.

Tyler is a growing city. It is making us all more wealthy because it is attracting in-migration and investment that is causing property values to appreciate. It’s time for rational and realistic rules on the sale of alcohol. What we have now is a charade.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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4 Responses

  1. Paul, I work in Russia 28days and then come back to Tyler for 28days, and it just burns me up I can’t go buy a bottle of wine in my home town. I have enjoyed wonderful meals and wine at Kiepersol Estates, and I have great appreciation for your statements about our fine DRY little town. I have had countless people come to Tyler, and ask why and the world you cannot by alcohol in Tyler, All
    I can tell them is, it’s a money deal! And we are losing it! Thanks for everything you do for our wonderful little town, and we love the programming.
    There is a responsible way of doing, we just need some guidance on how to make it happen.
    Robert Cooper

  2. Getan Pade says:

    Alcohol is legal for adults to consume, so allow us to buy it in town w/o going through hoops. If it’s a question of “morals” than I am sure those same people that oppose alcohol will work toward banning porn and bad language from our town. People who drink and drive are going to do so anyway. Do not punish the rest of us who are responsible. In regard to fatality accidents, look into it and see how often speed is the primary culprit – I wonder how many of those who argue the public safety aspect of alcohol sales have ever driven above the speed limit.

  3. Chris Moore says:

    I used to work in the dry city of Haltom City, Texas, a susburb of Ft. Worth. Package stores in Ft. Worth bordered our city. Ft. Worth received the tax revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages, but Haltom City taxpayers had to pay the jail tab for those arrested and place in our city jail. How absurd!
    Equally absurd is this dry county business, where ‘Bubba’ has to travel 10, 20, 30 miles to get beer for his personal use, or for the get-together to watch the ‘Big Game’. I don’t drink, never have, never will, but, if ‘Bubba’ has to go out of town to get his beer and ends up in the Smith County jail for intoxication-related charges, we are punished by having to pay the jail tab while Anderson, Gregg, and Van Zandt counties profit. How stupid!
    So ‘Bubba’ pops a couple on the long drive home and runs into someones family. Had he bought the booze across the street, instead of across the bridge, maybe he wouldn’t been enticed to pop a couple while driving the 20 miles homes. How dangerous!
    But we also forget that, if you know where to look, there are plenty of ‘bootleggers’ in the city of Tyler, and nearby, ready, willing, and able to sell overpriced suds to anyone, regardless of age. How criminal!
    Many of my fellow tea-totalers believe that keeping booze at a distance (wait, isn’t it in EVERY restaurant?) we keep our county safe, but how many DWIs do we have weekly? Drinkers are going to get their drink, like smokers will get their smokes, like tokers will get their weed, but the county will not reap a dime of the legitimate tax money that we so graciously cede to the neighboring counties. How nearsighted! How narrow-minded!

    Our jailers could have a pay raise, deputies could have better equipment, more roads could get fixed with the tax money we could be collecting. How exhilerating!!

  4. Bob Tippens says:

    The talk going on about buying the big “A” in Smith County is so off course compared to what should be talked about, that it often makes me wonder about the mentality of those who originally imposed this law. I have lived in wet/dry counties, states that limited Outlets, those that required a state “A” ID card, etc., etc., and etc. Bottom line ……. if there is a desire for the “A”, the residents will go to the closest source or the opposite direction to keep from being seen. Either way, they will get it …. Don’t the rulers get it ????? Police check for seat belts, for safety ……… so are they now going to stop cars/trucks if they see a paper sack being sucked on by the driver or someother person in the vehicle …… Get real ……. Those that want to have a glass/can/bottle of “A” with their sit-down-dish/bowl of pasta, steak, fish, or Bar-B-Que …. will …. get …. it …. and have it !!!! whether they are in their $50K or $500K home. While I love my skim milk and sweeten tea with everything, I will always vote to have the law deep six-ed.

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