Drunk with Power?

Lushes are falling all over themselves to protest the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's latest outrage: arresting people in bars for being drunk. Today, The Dallas Morning News ran the sad tale of a guy who downed a sixer but never even left his own hotel--until the TABC carted him off to jail. He was nabbed in an enforcement sweep the agency ran in Irving the weekend of March 10. In the six months ending in February, TABC has issued 2,281 public intoxication citations, nearly double what they were over the same period last year.

Aghast, we ask, Is nothing sacred? But the truth is, it never was. TABC's harried spokeswoman Carolyn Beck is a little exasperated with all the hoopla. "It's based on what people think is a new push, but we've always been in the bars," she insists. "It's the same laws, the same policies, the same procedures. It's all the same thing."

What's different is that all of the sudden, the TABC has the resources to do its job. Last session, the Texas Legislature served them up an additional 60 field agent slots, for a total of 294, plus 35 new administrative workers that freed up a similar number of agents.

Beck also wanted to set the numbers straight about the Irving sweep. Reuters and other news organizations have reportedthat the squad hit 36 bars and arrested 30 people (the DMN didn't specify). The real numbers, she says, are 31 and 29, respectively. Looks like they had just a few too many. —Rick Kennedy

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