Sunday, November 22, 2009
Poor Folks, Profits, Police, and Politicians
Well, well, well. The local politicians and the retail liquor cartel are at it again. This time they were flushed out by applications to sell beer and small vineyard specialty wines at three local Walmart stores. State Senator Sue Madison was, of course, right in the middle of it, and Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor expressed his usual rote opposition to any and all alcohol sales. Some preachers also wrote letters against the permits. Alderman Bobby Ferrell wrote a letter supporting the permits. Mayor Lioneld Jordan and the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce took no position.
The Iconoclast is no fan of Walmart, but we would have granted all three permits. The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Board approved the permits for the Walmart Supercenter on Joyce and for the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Crossover, but they denied the permit for the Walmart Supercenter on Martin Luther King Boulevard in the low income part of town. Only the action to deny this third permit deserves much attention.
ABC Director Michael Langley offered the excuse that the board denied the MLK Walmart permit based on availability, traffic, and crime concerns. Okay, let's dissect this bullshit. Availability - the huge Crossover Liquor is just across the street from the WM Family Market, much closer than any competing outlet for the MLK Walmart. Traffic - way more cars all day long at the Joyce/Mall Avenue Supercenter, not that traffic count should have any connection to package sales because there is no demonstrated connection to DUI. Crime - they sell handguns at the MLK Supercenter for Gawdsakes, and more people are killed by bullets than being attacked with beer bottles.
The fact situation is pretty much the same for all three permit applications. The only real differences between the MLK location and the other two are social class and income levels in the neighborhoods. The ABC Board denied the permit for the location most convenient for working stiffs.
Now what was Sue Madison's dog in this hunt? In the past, she opposed retail liquor permits for Sam's Club in Springdale and Macadoodle's in Springdale, the last of which was supposed to be some insane screed about how many Benton County residents had shopped at their store just across the state line. You know, the store right there next to her colleague State Senator Kim Hendren's car lot.
The real reason is because she was doing the bidding for a certain liquor retailer that has a multi-permit monopoly on liquor stores in Springdale, not even in her district, and Madison was trying to keep him from having any price competition. This time she appears to be trying to stifle price competition in Fayetteville. Why stop with liquor sales, Senator? Every new retail business will be in competition with existing businesses, so get out there and oppose all new retail businesses in your district. That would make as much sense as your constant shilling for the liquor store owners.