City's Alcohol Debate Rages On
The Douglasville City Council Chamber was filled to capacity again Tuesday night as the City's alcohol debate continues.
Many of the approximately 100 residents who attended Tuesday night's City Council work session meeting were in favor of Mayor Harvey Person's veto of two alcohol measures approved by the City Council last week and were opposed to a third proposed ordinance that would change the food-to-alcohol percentage ratio restaurants are required to uphold.
The veto overrides a unanimous Council decision to put Sunday sales on a Nov. 6 ballot and a five-to-two vote that would allow restaurants to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. Sunday.
The proposed ordinance would allow restaurants to serve 51 percent food to 49 percent alcohol, matching the State's requirement. Currently all Douglasville restaurants serving alcohol on Sunday, must meet a ratio of 60 percent food to 40 percent alcohol.
Of the ten people who spoke to the Council against the proposed new ratio, many reiterated their opposition to the two alcohol measures passed last week, thanked Persons on his veto and urged Council members to vote against the alcohol measures if there is a vote to override the veto.
The Council will likely take a vote at Monday night's meeting and could override the Mayor's veto. Council members would need a five-to-two vote to accomplish the override.
Dr. Bill Wininger, pastor of The King's Way Baptist Church was the first to ask Council members to change their vote. Mike Iverson, a Douglasville resident thanked Persons for his stand and said it's time for the Council to listen to the people they represent. If they can't, he said, then the Council members should step aside.
Dr. John Pennington, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Douglasville, said anyone out until 2 or 3 in the morning are restless, troubled souls. They are having problems with thier marriage or work and can't stay home so they are out on the streets, he said.
"Restaurants don't care about the person on the bar stool, they only want to hear the sound of the cash register," he said. He then suggested that if the alcohol measures are passed, decent people may decide they don't want to live here anymore.
Of the ten who spoke against the alcohol ordinances, at least four were pastors or a chaplin and four live in Winston.
Phil Sisk was one of four people who addressed the Council in favor of the new ordinances.
"It's truly an emotional issue," Sisk said to the Council, "people will make you feel quilty. I'm talking about a pledge you made to us when you were running for office. You said that you would support this.
"It would pass if you left it up to the people," he said. "I drive to Atlanta because I like to stay out late and I'm not troubled. You may be able to keep us from voting but eventually we will get to vote."
Howard Estes, of Douglasville, let the Council know he wants the right to vote on the Sunday sales issue.
"I'm having a hard time understanding how the peoples' right to vote is a public safety issue," he said. "You say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and then you stop us from voting. Let the people speak."
Joshua Smith, of Winston, is against the ordinances and said it's just common sense.
"I don't think it's fair to risk my children's lives for a dollar. What kind of price tag is on my family's life? You are the gatekeepers," he said to the Council. "You have the power and responsibility to change this."
Richard Segal, of Douglasville, was opposed to the proposed ratio percentage of food-to-alcohol ordinance, as it is currently written, but believes the citizens have a right to vote.
"The fact that people should have the right to vote is not addressed by your veto," he said to the Mayor and then appealed to the Council to override the Mayor's decision. "I urge you to continue to support letting the people vote."