Archive for Wednesday, November 28, 2007

No Sunday liquor question on January ballot

November 28, 2007

Any chance for the people deciding whether Tonganoxie will have Sunday liquor sales will have to wait.

The measure won't be on the Jan. 15 ballot that will decide the quorum size for the City Council.

City Attorney Mike Kelly informed the council Monday night that adding a question about selling liquor on Sundays to the ballot would only be an advisory vote and would not change any current laws.

"To have a special election, it can only be called by statute," Kelly said. "In this case, there is no specific statute to allow anything but an advisory election. It would not have any binding effects; it would just advise the council whether or not to adopt it and put it up for any possible referendums and another special election."

Kelly's comments deflated local liquor retailers who thought Tonganoxie residents could decide Sunday sales' fate.

During an Aug. 27 council meeting, proponents and opponents of Sunday liquor sales urged the council to vote on the issue. The council took no action and asked liquor retailers to gather the required petition signatures for a referendum that would put the issue to vote. At the time, the council said the liquor retailers would be responsible for paying for the election.

That prompted Mary Krouse, owner of Mary's Retail Liquor, to wait until primary elections next year to gather signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

Earlier this month, the council called for a special election in January to decide the fate of the quorum, and Council member Paula Crook asked whether liquor sales could also be added to the ballot.

"When we had the people come in on this liquor sale, we told them it wasn't going to be up to the five of us to decide, so I say let's put it to a vote," Cook said during the meeting.

Other council members, such as Jim Truesdell, who openly opposed Sunday liquor sales in the August meeting, and Tom Putthoff did not think the nonbinding question should be on the ballot.

"I have yet to see the petition that we had asked them to bring us," Putthoff said. "My feeling is that this shouldn't even have been brought up tonight."

Council members Jason Ward and Steve Gumm said an advisory election would not advance the issue anymore and they didn't need to have it.

Crook made the motion to put the question on the ballot, but it did not go to a vote because there wasn't a second.

On Tuesday, Krouse was upset with the council's decision, especially because the vote would not have any permanent effect.

"This would have been an opportunity for the public to indicate how they feel," Krouse said. "They basically said, 'We don't want to find out.' They could have found out what the public wanted and then vote for it."

She also said she thought the council didn't want to upset any church-goers, who would normally oppose any attempt to extend liquor sales.

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