200 names still needed on liquor petition
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 12:00 AM
An update on the status of a liquor petition being circulated in the city along with a question and answer session on the issue will be presented Saturday night at the 424 Blues Café on Beacon Street, organizers said.
Jeremy Chalmers, spokesperson for Philadelphia For a Vote, said the public is invited to the event, which begins at 7 p.m.
Saturday's "Philadelphia For a Vote's Petition Party" will allow city residents an opportunity to sign the petition, Chalmers said. The group hopes to present the petition to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen in time for it to be placed on the May ballot.
Chalmers said about 200 additional signatures were needed.
"We hope to announce that night that we have the needed 1,000 signatures and are ready to present the petition to the board," he said.
"This is a concerted effort to make a final push to get the issue on the May ballot. We encourage everybody to come. There will be a status update at 7:30 p.m. followed by a question and answer session."
The event, free to the public, will feature live music.
Chalmers said the petition is not to legalize alcohol in Philadelphia.
"It is only a petition to allow the citizens of Philadelphia the right to vote on the issue," he said. "This petition is neither for alcohol nor against alcohol."
The U. S. Department of Justice granted pre-clearance on a bill last year that allows cities like Philadelphia with populations of at least 5,000 to call for a vote on legalizing liquor sales.
Recently, voters in Corinth overwhelmingly approved the sale of liquor and wine in the first election under the new state law.
The Mayor and Board of Aldermen can order an election upon the presentation of a petition containing at least 20 percent of the duly qualified voters asking that city residents be allowed to vote for or against the sale of liquor within the city limits.
Thirty days' notice must be given to qualified electors of the proposed election.
If voters approve the sale of liquor here, it would be up to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen to set guidelines.
The board could restrict the sale to restaurants and/or allow it to be sold in package stores.
"I do not believe that coming out from under the archaic dry laws will cause an increase in alcohol consumption in Philadelphia," Chalmers said earlier.
"According to the state Department of Revenue, when a county turns wet it doesn't necessarily mean Mississippi as a whole sees an increase in revenue. It is more about spreading the wealth between municipalities."
Petitions are available at City Hall, Harold's on Holland Avenue and Kademi on Center Avenue as well as on the website at www.philadelphiaforavote. com, Chalmers said.
There is also a Facebook page with the same name.
Under Senate Bill 2497, other residents of the county would not have a vote.
The old law required liquor votes to be countywide even though liquor can be sold only within municipal boundaries.