VIDEO: Will Dallas Follow Other Cities by Issuing a Smoking Ban in Public Parks?

May 11, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Video and editing by Meredith Carlton
mcarlton@smu.edu

For decades, smoking has been a controversial issue and the subject of a number of laws throughout the country.

In Texas, smoking has been prohibited in a number of places since 1997 from elevators to hospitals. But in 2008, Dallas County passed their own set of smoking bans extending them into all enclosed workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

After the new mayoral election on May 14, Dallas County could see a new smoking ban in place for public parks.

“A park is by definition a public place,” Joe Kobylka, SMU political science professor, said. “You have a right to be in a park and you don’t have to be licensed to be in a park…so it’s a different kettle of fish.”

Although this ban might seem strange to residents of Dallas, a number of other cities have issued the bans in parks. Raleigh, North Carolina and New York City are just two cities in the United States that passed the measure.

However, smokers in Dallas are not fond of the possibility.

“I’d probably smoke anyways,” Daniel Garza, Dallas resident, said. “I don’t think that (the bans) would stop people from smoking, it would just make controversy.”

If the new Mayor of Dallas does try to implement the ban, officials said it would be hard to monitor it. Currently, Dallas County already has an ordinance that is said to be difficult to enforce—drinking in public parks.

“Finding a way to percent anyone from smoking or drinking in our parks just isn’t going to happen,” Dave Strueber assistant director of the West region for Dallas Park and Recreation Dept. said.

In addition to enforcing the law, many are skeptical if a smoking ban in parks would have any effect at all.

“If people do continue to smoke in parks, they will realize it’s largely a toothless law and more of a symbolic statement than anything else,” Kobylka said.

Some believe the new ban would be beneficial and the new mayor should consider the possible ban.

“Parks are suppose to be clean, fresh air, a chance to run around and that sort of a thing,” Mandy Trexel, SMU freshman, said. “If you go over there (to a park) and someone’s smoking it kind of ruins it for you.”

Garza disagrees.

“I feel that as Americans we have the right to smoke,” he said. “I believe it’s one of our freedoms and it’s upsetting to me the government is trying to hold us back from our rights and what we want to do.”

Dallas County residents will not know if the ban is a possibility until the new mayor is elected.

Daily Mustang: Friday, April 8

April 8, 2011 by · Comments Off 

The votes are in! Find out who’s representing you in SMU’s 2011 Student Senate. Also where is it illegal to wear a seatbelt? And why was the Campus Carry Bill temporarily suspended by the Senate?

Daily Update: Friday, April 8 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Election Blog: University Park to Vote on Alcohol Proposals Today

November 2, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Video Posted By Kassi Schmitt

University Park will be participating in the biggest wet/dry election in U.S. history since the end of Prohibition. If they decide to loosen the sale of alcohol, local stores will be able to sell beer and wine, and restaurants will be able to serve mixed drinks without having members belong to a private club. Check our Election Blog throughout the day and tonight for election updates.

University Park to Vote on Alcohol Proposals Today from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

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Dallas Votes: Are ‘Dry’ Neighborhoods on Their Way Out?

October 22, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

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Beyond the Bubble
Editor’s note: With early voting now underway for the Nov. 2 general elections, Dallas voters are deciding whether to eliminate ‘dry’ areas for alcohol sales. SMU journalism students examine the wet/dry debate, which supporters say will provide an economic boon but critics worry will bring more crime to their community.

(OVERLAY MAP OF WET/DRY DISTRICTS PREPARED BY THE CITY OF DALLAS)

(OVERLAY MAP OF WET/DRY DISTRICTS PREPARED BY THE CITY OF DALLAS)

By Ariana Garza
agarza@smu.edu

Dallas voters will head to the polls on Nov. 2 to determine whether alcohol “dry” neighborhoods will become a thing of the past.

The two measures up for a vote would eliminate dry areas for alcohol sales. The first measure would allow the sale of beer and wine – but not liquor – at grocery and convenience stores throughout Dallas. Stores that now sell liquor would not be affected.

The second proposal would eliminate the “club card” requirement at restaurants in dry areas. Currently, restaurants may not allow customers to buy drinks unless they show an i.d. and join a private “club.”

The measures would not affect bars currently operating legally, nor would they allow new bars to open where they are currently prohibited.

The first measure has become a source of conflict between wet and dry Dallas leaders and residents. Some anticipate new tax dollars from the sale of beer and wine while others fear that an expansion in sales in their neighborhoods would cause an increase in crime, prostitution and loitering.

In 1843, Texas passed one of the first local option measures in North America. The measure allowed local communities to vote on the sale of alcoholic beverages in their area. After Prohibition ended in 1933, some communities voted to go wet while others remained dry. But community members could still petition to hold a local option election to challenge the wet/dry status of their community.

Since 1937, twenty-nine local option elections have taken place, according to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission reports. Some areas saw more than one election over the years and went back and forth between wet and dry. Today, many pockets of the city are dry.

“The local option election in Dallas next month is the largest we have seen in recent years,” said Carolyn Beck, director of communications and governmental relations of the TABC. “We eagerly await the outcome.”

Gary Huddleston, chairman of pro-alcohol group Keep the Dollars in Dallas and director of consumer affairs at Kroger, outlined two reasons the City of Dallas should abandon dry neighborhoods.

First, customers want the convenience of a nearby grocery store that sells beer and wine. Second, the passage of the proposal would contribute to an increase in sales tax revenue for the city.

“We think the residents of Dallas deserve the right to make the decision to sell beer and wine in convenience stores,” Huddleston said.

Formerly known as Progress Dallas, Keep the Dollars in Dallas began petitioning in April for a wet Dallas. The group’s website claims that making Dallas wet would attract more grocery stores, large retailers and, ultimately, “level the playing field and allow all neighborhoods equal access to economic development.”

The pro-alcohol website also argues that if Dallas becomes wet, the city could recover $20 to $30 million in sales taxes, mend its budget shortfall and prevent a tax increase for homeowners.

Dallas City Council member Steve Salazar, who represents District 6 and serves West and Northwest Dallas, including dry neighborhoods, opposes the upcoming election.

Salazar recalls his father’s description of West Dallas before the area went dry as impoverished, where “saloons,” prostitution and other vices were not uncommon.

“When it went dry, the place cleaned up and went somewhere else,” Salazar said. “A lot of people probably already forgot what it was like back then.”

Salazar spent his childhood in West Dallas and said that the area had a history of high crime before alcohol was banned. He worries that if Dallas becomes wet, a high concentration of beer and wine stores will accumulate in the western neighborhoods, as opposed to in North Dallas, which is also dry. Salazar said the proposal does not provide neighborhoods any protection against oversaturation of sales. He believes the high cost of starting a business in affluent North Dallas will discourage an influx of alcohol retailers there, sending them instead to lower income areas.

Salazar has seen wet areas where competing beer barns coexist.

“Even when its 40 degrees outside, you’ll see girls standing in their bikinis with furry coats on—across from the McDonalds Playplace—enticing people to come in and buy,” Salazar said.

Salazar fears that if West Dallas becomes wet, every corner gas station will soon become a beer barn and will deter prospective residents from moving there.

While the majority of Salazar’s constituents are against the proposal, a significant percentage is in favor.

Salazar attributes the pro-alcohol percentage to voters who are not well educated about the issue and may not realize the potential consequences the proposal could have on their neighborhoods. He also worries that some precincts and boundaries on the current wet/dry map are ambiguous. If that is the case, he fears that residents will unknowingly vote on the issue when the result will not affect them.

While North Dallas may see new or expanded grocery stores like Tom Thumb and Kroger, these businesses have already stated that they have no intention of developing stores in West Dallas, Salazar said.

Huddleston disagreed with Salazar’s claim that Kroger does not plan to build in West Dallas.

“The passage [of the alcohol proposal] would open up more areas for development,” Huddleston said.

Kroger does not restrict its development to certain parts of Dallas and looks at sites within the entire city, according to Huddleston.

South Oak Cliff Residents Wary of Proposed Alcohol Sales

October 22, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

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By E’lyn Taylor
ejtaylor@smu.edu

On a recent rainy Tuesday evening, church members at Holy Trinity Church of God in Christ in South Oak Cliff worshiped together for their weekly bible study. Members who live around here say this is a safe haven to congregate and meditate. But some are worried that the neighborhood may not be as safe if proposals to sell alcohol in the area are approved in the upcoming election.

Dallas voters will go to the polls Nov. 2 to decide on two ballot measures to allow alcohol sales throughout the city. The South Oak Cliff area has been dry since 1956. One measure would permit grocery and convenience stores throughout the city to sell beer and wine. The other proposal will allow restaurants possessing liquor licenses to sell drinks without issuing memberships. Bars and liquor stores would still be banned from currently dry areas.

The proposals will affect parts of East Dallas, North Dallas, West Dallas and land south of the Trinity River that includes all of Oak Cliff.

After their bible study, church members circled around to the back of the church to discuss the upcoming election.

Church member Kathryne Jeffries believes there are already too many wet Dallas suburbs and communities and that a vote for South Oak Cliff becoming wet will increase DWI convictions.

“They need to keep it as is,” Jeffries said. “They already have too many cities that are already wet.”

Vendors, restaurateurs, grocery-store owners and wholesale-club companies are petitioning for a vote to end club card requirements in restaurants. Some residents and officials believe that allowing beer and alcohol sales will bring more tax dollars to the city, but others think that the vote might bring additional crime.

The Holy Trinity Church of God in Christ has been located in the heart of South Oak Cliff for more than 37 years. Pastor T.T. Terry believes that neighbors around here will vote against the proposals.

“I don’t believe it will change very much,” said Dr. Terry. “I believe they will vote for it to remain dry.”

Supporters of the measures say that sales can bring more money into the community and Dallas will see increased revenues from sales taxes to pay for improvements around the city, including Oak Cliff. But Holy Trinity Associate Minister Otis Womack says the taxes from alcohol sales will not benefit Oak Cliff, instead they will benefit the vendors.

“The distributors and the people involved in selling and distributing alcohol, that’s who will make the money,” Womack said.

Womack disagrees with those who say that alcohol sales will help build jobs and opportunities.

“The people that own those stores don’t look like us, they don’t talk like us and they won’t hire us. So that’s not helping us or our community,” he said.

Two blocks away from the church, at a Fiesta grocery store, South Oak Cliff resident Shirlyn Benton said that the businesses in her community should focus on doing positive things around the neighborhood rather than selling alcohol.

“I think they need more programs for youth and they need a boys and girls club,” Benton said.

The City of Dallas prohibits alcohol sales within 300 feet of schools, churches and public hospitals. Not far from Holy Trinity, Walgreens Manager Chad Badgley points to another church that is so close that his store would not be able to sell alcohol whether the ballot measures pass or not.

That’s fine with Badgley. He is against South Oak Cliff becoming wet because he constantly runs out beggars and panhandlers who stand and beg in front of his store. That would only get worse if he sold beer and wine.

“It would just give them another item to get hooked on and beg for,” Badgley said.

The Daily Update: Wednesday Sept. 15

September 15, 2010 by · Comments Off 

The Daily Update: Wednesday, Sept. 15 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Join us for your Wednesday Daily Update and find out about the bomb threat at the Eiffel Tower, the crowd at the first Tate Lecture, and if students will have reading days before finals.

Global News Blog: Five Killed During Elections on Tuesday; What’s Next?

March 30, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Posted by Cynthia Kinard

Elections in Turkey are causing disputes between citizens and some have even been killed. Early election results predicated and showed that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the overall election according to a CNN article. Erdogan’s party has been in power since 2002, but his percentage points have slipped.

First round results imply that he is loosing some ground to an Islamist party and a Kurdish nationalist party. During elections Turkey enforces strict rules. It is illegal for people to carry firearms and the sale of alcohol is forbidden across the country. There have been several incidents in Kars Karabag village, Siginak, and Sanlifura of fights and people killing people with firearms.

These fights are mostly pertaining to Erdogan and the choices he has made the past six years he has been in power. Some citizens say that Erdogan has not follwed through on promises to advance reforms to get Turkey into the European Union.

“This is a warning vote against the governing party,” said bookseller Istiklal Kozan, as he left a polling station in Istanbul’s Beyoglu neighborhood. Kozan said he was an Erdogan supporter, but added that he cast a protest vote to show his frustration with the AKP’s lack of progress in negotiations to join the EU. Erdogan’s government has been entangled with Turkeys military and judiciary board. Another fight broke out in Kurdish between AKP supporters of Kurdish nationalist party known as the DTP.

The elections have been cancled after a helicopter crashed in the moutains of Eastern Anatolia, killing the head of the fringe Great Union Party, Muhsin Yazicioglu, and five other passengers.

Since elections take precedent in a country, the media has definitely not missed a beat. They have covered each of the quarrels that have broken out in the various cities and have kept the public informed of the different parties involved. The elections are on hold now, but once they begin up again whose going to stop these citizens from fighting and killing people?

If firearms are prohibited then how are people using firearms to fight with? It sounds to me like the security within these elections needs to be stepped up a notch.

Election Blog: Dallas Election Musings

November 4, 2008 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Sam Todd, 9:01 p.m.

With last week’s early voting reports already in, and some votes from today’s polling places in as well, some races are not going as predicted. In the race for Dallas County Tax Collector, Democrat John Ames is challenging 20-year incumbent David Childs, and with 200 of the county’s 708 precincts reporting, Ames is leading Childs by more than 10 percent of the votes.

It’ll be interesting to see if this Democratic challenger will be able to overcome the 20 years Childs has filled the seat. In other local races, incumbent Democrat Lupe Valdez is leading Republican Lowell Cannaday by more than 12 percent of the votes reported. Incumbent Texas State Representative Tony Goolsby, who represents North Dallas, is trailing Democratic challenger Carol Kent by more than 5 percent of the votes.

We wont know until all votes are reported, but as of now it looks like some races may end in surprise upsets. Dallas County election reports will be updated on www.dalcoelections.org throughout the night, so make sure to check their site to stay up to speed.