Friday, April 4, 2008

Don’t Strip the Truth about Liquor Sales

Did you hear the one about the “strip joint” coming to Frisco?

It seems this is the bogyman that certain people in town love to trot out every time there’s an alcohol-related issue on the ballot. I recall in 2002 - when the beer/wine ordinance was being debated – a large sign popped up at a nascent construction site at the corner of Coit and 121. “Coming Soon!” the sign boasted, “Gentleman’s Club.” And I have to admit that I was recently involved in an “adults-only stripping” incident at that location… when I visited the doctor to have my back examined. Centennial Hospital is a far cry from Baby Dolls.

And that’s the problem I have with the way the upcoming “Late Night Hours” ordinance vote is being portrayed by its detractors. I spent some time perusing their website and couldn’t find a single cogent argument to support their position. Instead, they’re relying on what my industry calls “the FUD factor.” If you don’t have a strong position, spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt to discredit the other side.

Their home page shouts “Why risk it?” and then lists a litany of items that sound like they’re taken from the book of worldly ills. They even have an FAQ (what web site would be complete without one?) that lists a few other maladies that are likely to befall our “hamlet” if we have the temerity to allow people to drink for a couple extra hours. But here’s the disturbing part. Nowhere on the site do they include one shred of evidence to support any of their positions.

Now, when I took my high-school debate classes, that kind of arguing would have left me with a big fat “F” on my report card. I’m happy to say that I avoided that particular situation until my initial semester of college (c’mon, Fortran?!? Who needs to know that?). So let me present a few facts about this key issue to help clear the air. First and foremost, we have to consider the reason this issue came up in the first place. Frisco is a growing city, with a number of attractive features. But we’re competing for tax dollars with some better-established and better-known neighbors. And the current restrictions on “last call” put us at a disadvantage compared to cities like Plano and The Colony. Nowhere is this more evident than attracting conventions and other events. Bill Bretches, the general manager of the Embassy Suites hotel adjacent to the Convention Center, recently estimated that the loss of one such event could cost his establishment more than a quarter of a million dollars.

Next, there is absolutely no evidence that extended hours attracts strip clubs, honky-tonks or speakeasies. Those businesses tend to congregate in areas with a lot more traffic than our little suburb. Don’t believe me? Then please show me even one “gentleman’s club” in Plano.

Finally, it’s important to keep this issue in perspective. Current city ordinances allow businesses to stay open until one A.M. on Saturdays, and midnight any other night. So we’re only talking about adding a couple of hours each night. Hardly enough time to bring on global Armageddon, or to even hinder our quality of life. More significantly, the issue is likely to be moot in just a few years. Once the population of Collin county reaches 800,000, state liquor laws kick in, over-riding any city ordinances. With the current head count hovering around 730,000 it’s highly likely that we’ll hit that mark well before the next official Census. So is it really going to hasten the fall of western civilization if we pre-empt that by a couple of years?

With daily reminders of global warming, the terrorist threat and other global crises rampant in today’s media, we must all be vigilant for those who would debate matters of public policy armed with nothing but innuendo and logical fallacies. If you’re opposed to drinking after midnight, then by all means, don’t do it. And if you feel strongly enough about it, arm yourself with reasoned arguments and salient facts and wade into the fray of public discourse.

But don’t try to peddle uncertainty and doom just to scare us into conforming to your view of the world. I outgrew the bogyman in the first grade, and I’m betting that most Frisco voters did as well.


Anonymous said...

I see that, so far, there are zero comments to Allen's blog - that is because it doesn't really warrant one. However, I was glad to see Allen's article in the opinions section of the Enterprise since it is just that. That is the beauty of America Allen - you have the right to be wrong.
Let's see if Allen believes in free speech and will post this comment.

- Allen Biehl said...

I'm more than happy to publish all comments, rare though they are. I'll even publish those left by people hiding behind the anonymity of the internet, though I would prefer that people step up and take responsibility for their opinions, right or wrong.

- Allen Biehl said...

By the way, thank you for proving my point. You're happy to (anonymously) claim that I'm wrong, but you don't bother to deliniate how or why?