To Understand Texas Wet/Dry Laws, Maybe You Have to Be Drunk.

Still thirsty: All Buzz wanted was to be able to pick up a six-pack of beer at our local grocery store. That's why we signed the petition, and later, along with 66.2 percent of the local electorate, voted to approve a proposition "wetting up" the entire city for beer and wine package sales.

You might think that would end it. The people have spoken, and they want their snoots wet. Silly you.

Local attorney Andrew Siegel, representing several anti-booze religious groups, last week filed a suit seeking to void the results of the November 2 election. Among the suit's claims: The city did not properly certify petition signatures. Also, several dry towns—Oak Cliff, Preston Hollow, Kleberg—that Dallas annexed over the years had voted to go dry before annexation, and votes have to be held specifically in those towns' former boundaries to change their status. The same is true for the former Justice of the Peace Precinct 7 in the Oak Cliff area, the suit contends, though redrawn boundaries eliminated the precinct many years ago.

Buzz spent several hours sorting through old court cases, Texas codes and attorney generals' opinions trying to find out what the odds are the suit will prevail. We can now say authoritatively: "Only God knows."

On its website, the Texas Secretary of State's Office contends that wet/dry elections in municipalities that annexed formerly dry towns must be held by the city as a whole, as Dallas did. (The lawsuit claims otherwise.) However, the law also suggests that when a formerly dry JP precinct is wholly contained within a city's boundaries—even a JP precinct that doesn't exist anymore—then people living in the old boundaries of the precinct must be the ones voting to change the area to wet.

Basically, unless the city prevails in court, we'll probably eventually need an act of the Legislature or an amendment to the Texas Constitution just to buy that six-pack. Ah,'s not dead. It's just gone senile.

In other wet/dry news, Goody Goody Liquor and two other liquor store chains, which contributed $30,000 to the anti- campaign, offered an explanation for the donations. You're probably thinking, "because they're greedy monopolists." Not quite. In a letter to customers, Goody Goody explains that its liquor stores will be cut out of the Dallas market because the new law would allow only wine and beer sales, not liquor. "Goody Goody would have supported the election had it allowed all alcoholic beverages to be sold in the new areas," the letter states.

Buzz would vote for that too. As if that matters.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams

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