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4/22/8  - Statement to House Committee on Licensing & Administrative Procedures

I am Sharon Boyd, 3146 Newcastle, Dallas  TX  75220.  I am Chair of Bradford Estates Crime Watch & HOA and Vice President of Bachman/NW Highway Assn.  I serve as the District 6 representative on the City of Dallas Board of Adjustment.  I am speaking on behalf of Bradford and Bachman, and as a concerned citizen, but not as representative of the city or BDA.

A few years ago, when Kay Copeland still worked for Rep. Jim Jackson, she called me about a liquor license application coming up for a business on Forest Lane in a dry area of Northwest Dallas.  It was a pool hall masquerading as a restaurant.

Municipalities must send out notices to property owners within 500 ft of a zoning case before those cases can be heard by either Plan Commissions or Bd of Adj panels.  Telling citizens we can monitor the TABC by checking its website is not an acceptable situation.  Most of my neighbors do not have access to the internet.

I called the TABC to find out where I should start to file my protest/opposition.  It was as bad as dealing with the IRS, but finally I got through to someone who would talk with me.

I asked if she would fax or furnish whatever form of petition was needed.  She said the TABC didn?t have a form, but whatever I submitted would need the application number of the liquor license.  It was good to hear TABC Director Stein say that 5 years later the TABC recognizes they have a problem.

Even though the TABC had no form for any letter or petition to protest to a liquor application, she said there was a time limit for getting it to the TABC once the application was filed.

I asked how I could learn the date of the filing and the final date for any opposition response.  She couldn?t/wouldn?t tell me.

I asked where I could get that application # and was told the TABC doesn?t furnish those numbers.

I mentioned the application was for a business in a strip shopping center in a dry area of Dallas.  She said that didn?t matter.

I told her there was a church in the shopping center where the applicant wanted a liquor license.  She asked if I had measured how far it was between the church and the business.  I said I had not, that I thought it was the TABC?s responsibility to determine if the applicant met local and state restrictions for a liquor license.  She said the TABC doesn?t do that.

Then she said WHEN the applicant gets its liquor license (NOT IF, BUT WHEN), that I and the community would need to monitor them to be sure they are following the rules of their license.  I asked if that wasn?t the TABC?s responsibility.  She said the TABC doesn?t do that.  I told her it would be impossible for a private citizen to monitor the applicant?s business operations.  She agreed.

After that horrible exchange, I called Rep. Jim Jackson?s office and reported what I had just learned from the TABC.  Rep. Jackson called me back.  He pretty much admitted the TABC works in a vacuum with little or no accountability to anyone, elected or not. 

Northwest Dallas is saturated with strip clubs and pool halls in the WET areas.  We do not need or want more of them in DRY areas.  Unfortunately, what the citizens and decent businesses want matters little or nothing when the TABC is eager to grant as many liquor licenses as they can.

We recently had a child dancing naked in a strip club, but the TABC did not pull that club?s liquor license.

We recently had two girls shot outside a nightclub, but the TABC did not pull that club?s liquor license.

Club DMX remains open after numerous shootings, including the death of a DPD officer.  The TABC did not pull that club?s liquor license.

For all the good the TABC does to law abiding taxpayers and businesses or assistance to the DPD, there is no reason for it to exist. 

Local governments cannot protect their citizens from rogue bars that hold TABC liquor licenses because the state insists on jurisdiction in all things liquor.  Yet, the TABC does nothing to regulate problem bars.

I don?t think the TABC can be fixed.  They seem to think their primary responsibility is to the liquor industry.  It is such an ingrained attitude that any new rules the Legislature might impose on them would be ignored.

Instead, we could replace it with a new department and commission, whose membership would include at least 50% who had no connection to alcohol sales.  But ? that is not the best solution.

It should be hard to get a liquor license.  Instead it is hard for local communities and neighborhoods to keep out OR control problem businesses like pool halls and joints operating under the guise of a restaurant, when little or no food is prepared or sold on premises.

Some of these places have a microwave for a kitchen, yet they are classified as restaurants

Instead of revamping the TABC, I urge you to begin preparing legislation that removes the liquor licensing process from Austin and the TABC and puts it in the control of local municipal and/or county government who are closer and more responsive to the communities they serve.

It would give community leaders and citizens a true opportunity to protest liquor or beer license for problem operators.  My neighborhood is a middle income community, and most of the residents could not afford to take a day from their jobs or the travel expense to go to Austin to attend a protest hearing.  Besides, when they do attend a hearing, the cronyism between the TABC commissioners and the liquor people is quite intimidating. 

The TABC needs to be dismantled.  Bring the liquor licensing back to the individual counties. 

                                        

    





                            

 

  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8