Debate Still Brewing Over Private Club Permit - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Melissa Simas reports

Debate Still Brewing Over Private Club Permit

September 24, 2004 --Posted 4:30 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- The debate over a new private club in Jonesboro continues to brew in Craighead County, and the Governor is responding.

On Wednesday, the State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board granted Julio Rodriquez Diaz Jr. a conditional liquor permit for his Mexican restaurant in downtown Jonesboro.

Back in April, an army against alcohol stood in the State Capitol taking aim at the ABC board. These individuals claimed the board didn't respect the wishes of people in dry counties. That was then, this is now.

"I think the only way it's going to be solved is replace members of that board with people who are more responsive to the concerns of dry counties," said Rev. Steve Jacobson.

So just who are these 5 members of the ABC board?

K-8 News has learned all of these appointees, made by Governor Huckabee, do in fact live in wet counties. However, 3 of the 5 board members served on the board when Chili's and Outback were denied a liquor permit a few years back.

Opponents question if any of these board members can be replaced?

According to the ABC board, no they can not. They say they were appointed by the Governor and confirmed to serve a full term by the State Senate. Opponents will have to wait at least a year before Huckabee makes another appointment, but the Governor is standing by his decisions.

In a statement to K-8 News, Huckabee says the idea that he appointed people that are in favor of alcoholic beverage sales is not true. The Governor goes on to say people that are upset need to try to change the law that he did not sign nor support.

That's something Reverend Jacobson agrees with.

"Change the private club law to close that loophole," said Jacobson.

The law in question is Act 1813. It broadens the definition of a what constitutes a private club, and the law does include the word restaurant in its language.

So for now the question on the mind of liquor opponents is how many more restaurants will be granted a liquor license?

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