Right about now Progress Dallas's peoples are at Dallas City Hall dropping off the petitions it says will most definitely trigger a local option election allowing Dallas residents the opportunity to vote for drenching the dry parts of town in beer and wine. Progress Dallas says it has way more than the 68,846 signatures needed to call for the referendum -- as in, 108,943 signatures, to be precise, which the City Secretary's Office still has to okee-doke before putting the election on the calendar in November. As for that other petition that would eliminate the need for a "private-club" membership at dry-area eateries, Progress Dallas says it also gathered up plenty of John and Joan Hancocks: 108,834.
The group says it has verified 72,404 signatures on each petition. Just to be safe.
The full press release follows, but in it, Gary Huddleston, the group's chairman and the Dallas market's director of consumer affairs at Kroger, says that "by signing these petitions in record numbers, the citizens of Dallas are calling for change. It's time to leave behind outdated laws that are not only costing our city critical tax dollars, but also denying equal access to retail opportunities to all parts of our city."
The city's certainly hoping this thing passes: City Manager Mary Suhm included it in her list of budget brainstorming ideas sent to council Friday night. She wrote, "Sales tax is projected to generate additional $11.3m per year ($5.6m in FY 2010-11)." Economic Development Committee chair Ron Natinsky told us in March he's counting on it to pass, if only to bring businesses like Costco into the city limits: "You have a whole economic door that opens." In fact, the only council member I know of who's opposed to the idea is Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, who told us yesterday that he's "on the dry side."
But, remember, getting plenty of signatures doesn't always mean it's a sure thing. Remember what happened in '06?
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PROGRESS DALLAS COLLECTS RECORD NUMBER OF SIGNATURES
More than 217,000 signatures collected supporting Local Option Election:
Progress Dallas gathers more signatures than any other Dallas referendum
(Dallas, TX -May 20, 2010) Progress Dallas surpasses the 68,846 signatures needed to call a Local Option Election. Progress Dallas gathered signatures for two petitions. One petition supports allowing beer and wine sales in grocery stores and retail centers, and the other petition supports allowing alcohol sales at restaurants throughout the city -- eliminating the need for a private club membership. Each petition requires 68,846 signatures to call an election. Progress Dallas has verified more than 72,000 signatures for each petition. The Dallas City Secretary now has 30 days to validate the signatures.
A total of 217,777 signatures were gathered. If a person is not a registered voter in Dallas, then their signature on the petition is not valid.
"By signing these petitions in record numbers, the citizens of Dallas are calling for change. It's time to leave behind out dated laws that are not only costing our city critical tax dollars, but also denying equal access to retail opportunities to all parts of our city," says Gary Huddleston, Progress Dallas Chairman.
217,777- total number of signatures gathered
108,943- signatures gathered for beer/wine petition
108,834- signatures gathered for restaurant petition
68,846- signatures needed for each petition
72,404- signatures verified by Progress Dallas for each petition
"This is an issue that resonates with Dallas voters. When a restaurant guest is asked to provide their driver's license so that the private club membership number can be scanned in order to buy a glass of wine or a simple mixed drink, there is a message of over-complication that confuses and almost intimidates the consumer. The Local Option Election will bring a welcome improvement for many restaurant patrons," Jamee Jolly, Greater Dallas Restaurant Association.
By state law, passage of these propositions will not allow package liquor stores nor stand alone bars or nightclubs in the current dry sections of Dallas. It will simply be giving retailers and restaurants a level playing field across the city.