Vice Squad
Sunday, May 16, 2004
Towns Vote on "Wet or Dry?"

Many counties and municipalities throughout the United States prohibit the sale of alcohol, both for on-site and off premises consumption. Every week, it seems, some dry town is voting on whether to go wet -- though there aren't many votes taken in wet towns that are considering going dry. (Chicago is a bit of an exception on this score, as many electoral precincts in Chicago have voted themselves dry.) This past week has seen quite a few votes in North Texas, and one in Massachusetts. Perhaps surprisingly, almost all of the Texas alcohol liberalization measures passed (Dallas Morning News registration required), while a Town Meeting in Weston, Massachusetts, resulted in a 97-67 vote against a proposition that would have allowed two licenses to sell wine and beer, along with some options for non-profit organizations to serve alcohol. According to the linked article, the discussion against the proposition noted the likely increase in crime and the temptation for children to shoplift that would accompany beer and wine sales. Weston is home to about 11,200 people. And although you can't sell liquor legally in Weston, that hasn't always been the case, according to the town's website:
"By the 18th century, [Weston] residents were profiting by the traffic on the Boston Post Road. Taverns of great historic importance were established on the Road. The Golden Ball Tavern, built in 1750, and the Josiah Smith Tavern, built in 1757, still exist in the town."

In an eerie coincidence, one town that split the difference on their liquor vote this week was Lancaster, Texas, which approved liquor by the drink at restaurants but chose not to lift its ban on liquor stores. The uncanny coincidence is that the previous Vice Squad post concerned Lancaster, California. Meanwhile, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, there's a move afoot to bar gay marriage (registration required). Not to be outdone, Lancaster, Ohio, in what is not quite a vice story (registration required), is home to a a high schooler who has won one for freedom of expression:

"The city's board of education voted to allow a student to return to school after he was expelled because of comments on his personal Web site.

Thomas Siefert, 17, was suspended March 29 for 10 days and later expelled because of the Web site, which included images of teachers and a message board with postings aimed at Lancaster High School and administrators."

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