By Jim Lee
Those of us in this community who have remained reasonably close to consciousness realize an election will take place in November. But how many of us know about the one this Tuesday?
Registered Portales citizens need to vote on this week’s alcohol issue.
When I did my informal poll, I discovered that a lot of folks here in town didn’t even know about this municipal election.
The measure we need to decide is if the city should issue licenses to restaurants that will allow them to sell beer and wine with meals. If the issue passes, it does not create new bars or turn restaurants into bars. It will not allow customers just to chug down some giggle juice. The license will not allow anything stronger than beer and wine, and alcohol can only be served with meals. And it does not allow package sales.
The ordinance has some strange quirks.
For example, it will not limit customers to any set number of drinks, but they cannot have more than two at a time. I don’t understand this restriction. Why would anybody want more than one drink at a time? Unless a person is some Roswellian anomaly, he/she has only one mouth — so, one slurp at a time, right?
Another confusing restriction is that the location must be at least 300 feet away from a military installation, school, or church.
Portales is well over 300 feet away from Cannon Air Force Base, so why bother with this rule? Besides, most bases sell beer right there and are consequently not particularly shocked by a watering hole within 300 feet of the gate.
Schools, OK that makes sense.
Churches? Is it even possible to obey this rule? I’m not sure anything in Portales is more than 300 feet from a church.
The ordinance prohibits serving alcohol later than 11 p.m. How much sense does this make when no local restaurant stays open that late anyway?
Also, at least 60 percent of the gross receipts per year must be from the sale of meals. Since a separate rule stipulates that alcohol must be sold with a meal, why this bookkeeping requirement? All the restaurant has to do to conform to this one is to charge more for meals or charge less for happy sauce. How much sense does that make?
Of course picking on these provisions of the proposed ordinance, fun as it is, does not address the merit or lack of merit of this measure. The bottom line is simply deciding if passing it is the right thing to do.
Everyone I asked about the proposal voiced approval. Mayor Orlando Ortega told me it will be good for the city because it will bring in business. He knows far more than I about this sort of thing, but I do know it will generate some revenue because the license fee will bring $250 to the city coffers. More importantly, it will give adult restaurant patrons a choice. People will be able to drink or decline to do so.
Whether I want a drink or not, I resent being told I cannot choose for myself. After all, I am well over 21 — not anywhere near as far over 21 as Dave across the street, but well over legal age.
For or against, we all need to vote. Four polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday according to the ward of each voter. Call City Hall for information. The number is 356-6662.
Don’t let the presidential election minimize the value of this election. As responsible citizens, we need to decide what we want for our city.
Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: