City Hall

Before Council Gets to Beer and Wine Item, a Word From the Attorney Threatening to Sue

[Update at 9:14 p.m.: So, for those still with us at this late hour (and, really, why?), the council's back -- and City Secretary Deborah Watkins has just announced that Progress Dallas did indeed gather "a sufficient number of signatures" to trigger a November 2 election regarding the sale of beer and wine throughout the city of Dallas and the sale of mixed beverages in restaurants without the need for a membership. Caraway is about to speak. Let's go to the comments for that.]

In a few minutes, fingers crossed, the council will finally get around to Addendum Items No. 25-33, dealing with a resolution and ordinance calling for a local option election in November that will give voters the opportunity to make it possible to sell beer and wine in all of Dallas, not just the "wet" areas. But before we get to that ...

Ever since yesterday I've been trying to talk to Andy Siegel, the attorney who said yesterday that Progress Dallas is 5,555 votes short of the 68,846 necessary to trigger the election. Progress Dallas, headed up by Kroger's Gary Huddleston, says it has more than enough votes. Shortly, City Secretary Deborah Watkins will tell us whether or not he's correct. But Siegel says even if she does give the thumbs-up, he'll "seek Court intervention" on behalf of his clients. But Siegel has yet to say who his clients are. So I asked. And this is what he said via e-mail late this evening:

I represent 4 of the major clerical alliances w/15,000 dallas members, real estate developers, affected homeowners & businesses and several off-premise retailers. I think the city's @ a tipping point & it's madness to open the floodgates indiscriminately to all beer & wine venues. I also believe the City is having to pad their numbers of valid signatures, hence the desperate, late night search to "find" a few more valid signatures.
That e-mail came at 6:10 p.m. Siegel -- who represented Addison in the last failed effort to eliminate Dallas's dry areas -- said he was "with councilmembers" and couldn't speak via phone. As soon as he sent it, I asked him for further details concerning his clients. I have yet to hear back.

Update at 9:45 p.m.: The entirety, more or less, of Caraway's comments concerning the referendum can be found in the comments. There's a picture of Caraway that follows as well; it's a visual aid that goes along with his prolonged rant against Progress Dallas's efforts to get Dallas wet with beer and wine sales. I also just received a statement from Kroger's Gary Huddleson, chair of Progress Dallas, concerning the outcome of the petition count:
Progress Dallas is pleased Dallas residents will have the opportunity to vote on this important issue in November. Dallas voters signed petitions in record numbers because they understand how changing these archaic laws will promote economic development and keep millions in tax revenues in Dallas instead of sending them to neighboring cities. Today is a victory for the citizens and taxpayers of our city.
I've asked Siegel to send me a copy of his lawsuit when he files it tomorrow.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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