Sunday, December 20, 2009

Monmouth Moots Post-Prohibition Prosperity

Who says Prohibition's not relevant these days?!

In the Statesman recently was news that Monmouth citizens are petitioning voters to repeal the ban on hard alcohol.

This was surprising.

Monmouth is proud of its heritage as a dry town, of course. The city's walking tour says it right at the top! (Though perhaps that's more like making lemonade out of lemons...)

But I thought they were selling and serving alcohol now. Turns out it was just beer and wine. According to the article petitioners needed to get 676 valid signatures by December 15th to place on the ballot a proposal to broaden the list of currently permitted liquors. The earlier repeal effort was more narrow:
In 2002 petitioners spirited a drive to allow the sale of beer and wine. Proponents of the current drive cite economical factors favoring the sale of hard liquor and hard-liquor drinks as central to their objective.
Monmouth is a college town, after all.

In a tourism report released September 2009, the lack of restaurants was a barrier to visitors and tourism in Monmouth.
[S]urvey respondents expressed concerns that the current liquor laws might be restricting interest by restaurants.

The Monmouth City Code on alcohol is curious - maybe even draconian. Section 40 of the City Code contains the laws against selling liquor of more than 14% alcohol - so even many wines, strictly speaking, would not be legal. Hardly any American Zinfandel or California reds would qualify, and certainly no fortified dessert tipples. The consequences for violating the code? A $250 fine plus confiscation:
40.320 - Confiscation of Liquor. Whenever any officer shall arrest any person for violation of Sections 40.110 to 40.395, such officer shall take into his possession all intoxicating liquor or other property which the person arrested has in his possession, or on his premises, which apparently is being used or kept in violation of Sections 40.110 to 40.395. Upon the conviction of such person or forfeiture of bail by him should the court find the intoxicating liquor and other property has been used or kept in violation of Sections 40.110 to 40.395, the court shall enter an order forfeiting the liquor to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the other property to the city (Ord. 697, sec. 9).

This is clearly directed towards someone operating a speakeasy or otherwise dealing in liquor in quantity. But still!

So anyway, Prohibition's hardly just a relic from the last century! Raise your next glass to Monmouth or buy 'em a drink!

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