Alcohol sales proposal on ballot

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Sunday alcohol sales could boost the local economy and make Clovis more attractive to more businesses, according to proponents.

But allowing one more day of the week to sell alcohol could lead to more alcohol-related crimes and sends the wrong message to the youth, according to critics.

Voters will decide in Tuesday’s municipal election whether alcohol sales in restaurants and bars on Sundays will be allowed in Clovis.

Alcohol sales by package and in restaurants and bars are permitted in Clovis on Mondays through Saturdays.

Joe Martinez, a 72-year-old salesman and registered voter, said the city is losing revenue because people spend their money in cities that allow Sunday alcohol sales.

“I say sell it on Sundays,” he said. “People like me, who drink, get it on Sundays anyway. Why not let us go to a cafe and drink with our meals?”

Frank Dalton, a 49-year-old Clovis trucker, said he will vote against the proposition.

He said he doesn’t agree that people leave the city on Sundays just to have an alcoholic drink with their meals.

“I think using alcohol to keep people in Clovis (on Sundays) is the flimsiest excuse,” he said. “If they say they’re going to go out (to other cities), they’re out to do something else. I wouldn’t drive a hundred miles just to have a drink.”

Dalton also said allowing Sunday alcohol sales sends a message to children that drinking and driving is acceptable.

“I sincerely and deeply hope it fails,” he said.

Citizens for Clovis Progress is the driving force behind the alcohol sales proposal. The group collected 1,083 valid signatures during a three-month drive. City elections officials said 725 signatures – 10 percent of the voters in the last municipal election – were required to place the proposal on the ballot.

“Alcohol sales on Sunday are a great opportunity to generate increased revenue (for city projects),” said Citizens for Clovis Progress spokesman Robin Howe. “It could drive up gross receipt taxes.”

He said alcohol consumption in restaurants is regulated and servers are trained to determine if a customer is intoxicated.

“If a server or bartender violated the law, they can have that license taken away from them,” he said. “So they’re very responsible because their livelihood depends on it.”

The group looks to cities such as Hobbs, which it said has experienced economic benefits from passing Sunday alcohol sales.

Hobbs Chamber of Commerce President Ray Battaglini said the Sunday alcohol sales have made the city more attractive to new businesses since voters approved the proposal in 2003.

Critics say Sunday alcohol sales would increase DWIs and alcohol-related injuries in Clovis.

Clovis DWI school instructor Linda Teakell said the revenue alcohol sales could bring to Clovis won’t make up for the lives impacted by alcohol.

Clovis Police Chief Dan Blair and Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray said they don’t expect DWIs to increase drastically if the measure passes.

However, Blair said an increase in domestic violence calls is possible.

Hobbs police public information officer Capt. Donnie Graham said the city has not experienced a surge in Sunday DWIs since the city allowed alcohol sales. DWI-related arrests on Sundays in Hobbs increased 5 percent in 2006, he said.