Plano must have taken a hit when Dallas voters approved citywide beer and wine sales two-and-a-half years ago. No longer were the good people of Far North Dallas forced to drive north of the Bush Turnpike to stock up on beverages. They could simply go down the street to the grocery store.
There's now a push to recover the lost tax revenue -- and then some -- by welcoming liquor stores to Plano. Supporters of the referendum that will be put to voters this Saturday, including Mayor Phil Dyer, make an economic argument: People drink liquor; liquor is a taxable commodity; Plano would bring in an extra $500,000 per year buy letting people buy liquor there.
Equally predictable is the argument coming from the other side. In a political ad, Collin County Commissioner Matt Shaheen warns that liquor stores could lead fair Plano to wind up like Downtown Dallas, a known source of evil and corruption.
"I used to have to walk by a liquor store on the way to work," Shaheen warns. "And there are a lot of people who have turned to alcohol and they're hanging out in the front of a liquor store. And you can tell the devastation it's having on that surrounding area."
More recently, a group called Save Plano has launched a billboard and robocalling campaign -- if, that is, you can call a single billboard on the tollway and $400 worth of robocalls a campaign.
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The group's oddly capitalized mission "is to Stand For and Protect the Values this community was founded upon and to protect Our Families, Children and Community from the detrimental change our community will experience if illicit businesses are allowed to open their doors in Plano." It argues, rather hysterically it seems, that 150 package stores will set up shop if voters approve liquor sales.
These, the group's website suggests, will be irredeemably seedy places, some of which will probably sell guns and be clerked by non-white individuals:
Unfortunately for the teetotalers, they are badly outgunned. Save Plano's pro-liquor counterpart, Citizens for Economic Equality, has raised and spent a quarter of a million dollars. Most of that has come from big liquor store chains and the Texas Hospitality Association, which is a polite way of saying the liquor lobby.
Save Plano, on the other hand, has raised and spent about $5,000, all of which came in the form of donations less than $50. Plus, their doom-and-gloom argument rings a bit hollow. Downtown Dallas' decades of suckage had very little to do with liquor stores, which, by the way, haven't killed the neighborhood's ongoing revival.