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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lawsuits watered with alcohol money

Thursday, November 13, 2008

After receiving the financial report filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission (AEC) by Yota Shaw, some Save Energy Reap Taxes (SERT) members feel the fight to take the wet/dry issue off the November ballot, was fought for the wrong reasons.

A report, obtained from the AEC, shows $13,000 in donations were made in October from Missouri alcohol distributors and businesses to help pay for lawsuits filed to stop the issue from reaching the ballot.

Under the guidance of SERT President Ruth Reynolds, several people worked for months gathering petition signatures in an attempt to give Sharp County residents the opportunity to vote in the November elections on whether to make Sharp County wet. To many voter's disbelief, it only took three days in court to undo the many hours spent collecting thousands of signatures.

There were several arguments back and forth on the wet/dry issue. Those who opposed a wet Sharp County said alcohol would raise the crime rate and pose danger to the well kept area.

Among many arguments made by those who wanted to see the question on the ballot was the argument of Missouri gaining revenue Sharp County could be earning.

There were several different rumors and allegations that Missouri liquor companies wanted to keep Sharp County dry so they wouldn't lose income. Many people said Shaw was just a face for court, the liquor companies were really paying for the lawsuit. The rumors are no longer rumors, SERT finally has proof. The report Shaw filed with the AEC contained several large contributions from alcohol distributors throughout Missouri.

It is common practice for groups to receive donations from people who support their purpose, just like a campaign. When such donations are received it is required by law to file a report with the AEC. SERT was acting as a ballot question committee, according to the guidelines of the AEC, because they were trying to put the wet/dry question on the ballot.

AEC requires such a committee to file a report when they receive contributions of $500 or more (at once or accumulatively by the same person). SERT member Stu Freigy said the committee stayed in compliance with this law. Freigy said SERT filed reports as they received donations or contributions from citizens. According to the October report filed by SERT, they received donations from two different people. Both contributors were citizens, one a real estate agent and one a citizen. SERT's total donations received in October were $3,000.

The report contains an itemized expenditure report as well. Kerry Evans of Hardy was paid $270 by SERT for a billboard. According to the report, a $10 postage expense was the only other item listed in October.

The only report with the AEC on Shaw's behalf was in October. In the report Shaw claims the first contribution (over $500) made to the Committee to Oppose Alcohol in Sharp County was donated Oct. 1.

According to the report, on Oct. 1, Luecke Distributing, an Anheuser-Busch distributor, donated $1,500 to Shaw. Pattie Clark, who owns the Beverage Shop (a liquor store) in Thayer, Mo., gave $5,000 Oct. 1. An alcohol distributor out of Rolla, Mo., Grellner Sales, donated on Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, an accumulative donation of $5,000. The last contributor in the AEC report was Bluff City Beer Company of Cape Girardeau, Mo., who donated $1,500 on Oct. 14. The total contributions claimed by Shaw were $13,000, all from companies who have interest in Missouri beer and liquor sales.

Dale Simpson and Associates of Richardson, Texas, were paid $3,252 for petition analysis. According to the report, the only other expense paid by Shaw was $225 to Jerry Moser of Melbourne for phone investigating. The expenditures totaled $3,750 leaving $9,250 in donation money.

Shaw marked "Final Report" on the form, but in the expenditure section she has not accounted for David Blair's attorney fees.

Freigy said he assumes this means there will be a revised report filed later. Freigy said he also thinks she has expenditures to file other than her attorney's fees. According to Freigy, SERT was billed $2,000 to obtain a copy of the record of the trial. Freigy said SERT had to have the record for the appeal case and he assumes Shaw had to have the same. Freigy also said he was curious, since the expense wasn't on the report, who paid for the hand writing expert who testified during the trial.

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Apparently it is OK for liquor to be sold and profits made in Missouri BUT NOT IN ARKANSAS. When Benton County (Bella Vista etc) tried to go wet the same thing happened except many more dollars were spent because of the size of Benton County. It is tough to beat the dollars. No one has ever been stopped from drinking by banning sales. Did prohibition work?

-- Posted by dabic on Fri, Nov 14, 2008, at 8:24 AM

Some people in our county obviously do not want to prosper. Some people do not think the revenue would be significant enough to open up our county with liquor sales. Well people WAKE UP, there is money to be made, why do you think these liquor companies donated to keep us dry? Shaw is a hypocrite! Street thinks that all drinkers "beat the tar out of their kids". How ridiculous! We could be a tourist destination. Liquor sales would help this. Which in turn would bring more revenue to our businesses. Why is it so hard for some of you people to understand this? Our young move away from here because there are NO OPPORTUNITIES! It will be on the ballot in 2010, and we will win.

-- Posted by ham58 on Fri, Nov 14, 2008, at 11:42 AM

Can't someone oppose something simply because it is what they consider the right thing to do? Not everyone is motivated by money. This issue will come back again, and will probably be voted on in the future. Pass or fail, it doesn't change my opinion that it is not in the best interest of the children or citizens to be a wet county. Not everything thinks you have to drink to have a good time, or that the weekend wouldn't be complete without a case of beer.

-- Posted by ITGuy on Fri, Nov 14, 2008, at 4:15 PM

ITGUY, YOU have your right of opinion and vote, and WE have our right for our opinion and vote, that is what was asked for, our constitutional right. Had it been voted down, so be it. That's what some of you don't understand. But please tell me, if all that money is going to MO....why would you not want it for our county? FOR our kids, their education, roads, more business, more revenue which would lead to more jobs. Humm that sounds terrible doesnt it? Get with the times to make progress!

-- Posted by ham58 on Sat, Nov 15, 2008, at 11:42 AM

Additionally TJMAN, don't you think it's a LITTLE hyprocritcal for Street and Shaw it proclaim their religious belief to obstain from liquor (of course, they would NEVER have buy it) and get their main financing from LIQUOR COMPAINIES?

-- Posted by ham58 on Sat, Nov 15, 2008, at 11:45 AM

LOL, I mean ITGUY (sorry about that)

-- Posted by ham58 on Sat, Nov 15, 2008, at 11:46 AM

For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10) - You guys sure talk a lot about money.

-- Posted by Hem on Wed, Nov 19, 2008, at 4:23 AM

For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10) You guys sure talk a lot about money.

-- Posted by Hem on Wed, Nov 19, 2008, at 4:27 AM

And your point is? Yes sir, money keeps our world moving. Look at our economy right now sir. Businesses need to MAKE MONEY to survive. Schools need to HAVE MONEY to survive. People need to MAKE MONEY to pay their mortgage, bills, etc. To me religion seems to fuel the wars that continue for decades all over the world. And yes, even in our little community religion of two people have denied our rights to vote for an issue. That is the point.

-- Posted by ham58 on Thu, Nov 20, 2008, at 10:31 AM

I think you might want to re-read the verse. It says the LOVE of money. Yes, our economy is in a mess. Why? Because of greed (the love of money) Yes, people need money to pay for things, but do they really need to live in a McMansion? My neighbor is going bankrupt and surrendering his home. Why? Because of simple greed (the love of money). He bought the house for 200,000.00 but now owes over $400,000.00 and has three mortgages. Why? Greed (the love of money). If people can't manage money and be satisfied with what God has given them then they will have problems. More money is not the answer. Learning to live with what God has given you is the solution. My neighbor still goes out to eat at fancy restaurants so who is paying for that? Not him, he is going bankrupt. He puts it on a credit card and simply does not pay the bill.

When our government bailed out AIG, what did they do? They went on a nice vacation and spent $400,000 dollars! On stupid stuff, like massages and liquor to name just a couple of things. Did they really need my hard earned tax dollars for that? NOPE. Do I get to keep my tax dollars because they wasted it? NOPE. They just keep increasing my taxes and NEVER learn to MANAGE their money.

The ONLY reason I see you proposing for Sharp County to be wet is none other than money. That does not seem like a very good reason. It is not religion fueling wars. It is the sinfulness of man and the lack of love for God.

Sharp County could do a lot more for itself if the people in charge could better MANAGE the money it collects and if the citizens stepped up to help where help is needed.

-- Posted by Hem on Thu, Nov 20, 2008, at 11:42 AM

So, because people, who make the money, want to buy a mansion, what's that to you? Most people do live within their means (especially in our area). For the most part,GREED AS YOU SAY, is NOT because they are in an area that they can buy LIQUOR! This has nothing to do with the wet/dry issue. You see sir, our young adults leave this area because there are NO OPPORTUNITIES for them. This issue is not all on the money side. This issue, if voted in, may in fact bring more businesses to our area AND HELP our exsisting businesses survive. Which in turn makes more opportunity for the residents here (your neighbor perhaps). It will, for sure bring in more tourists, for our lakes, our golf courseS, our rental companies, motels, spending in our area at our local businesses. IT'S PROGRESS SIR! And the point you seem to ignore is THE RIGHT TO VOTE FOR THIS ISSUE WAS DENIED BY SOME SMALL MINDED, RELIGIOUS HYPROCRITES THAT USED LIQUOR MONEY FUNDING TO STOP THE VOTE. This is America and we deserved the right to vote. THAT IS THE ISSUE SIR.

-- Posted by ham58 on Thu, Nov 20, 2008, at 11:59 AM

I believe that it was not two religious people who kept the issue off of the ballot. I believe it was kept off of the ballot because it was done ILLEGALLY. As far as young people leaving the area because there are no opportunities, I disagree. A lot of them have gone to college and then returned to work in the community. You might check with some of the teachers at Highland to see where they grew up and went to school. You might also want to check with some of the local business owners. Most of them grew up here and continue to live here.

Others who leave, may have never liked living here. Others may have joined the military. Saying that there are no opportunities in Sharp County simply is not a true statement. They may be fewer than in other places, but they are there if one chooses to look.

Maybe if signatures could be collected LEGALLY then others would not have a problem with voting on the issue. However, that said, making Sharp County wet will not solve any money problems. Better MANAGEMENT of ones finances is the only thing that can solve money problems.

As far as people making money and buying a mansion, I have no problem with what anyone wants to buy just so long as THEY pay for it and don't expect my tax dollars to foot the bill.

-- Posted by Hem on Thu, Nov 20, 2008, at 1:20 PM

Sir, I know many of the teachers and personnel at the school, they are the ones that are saying many of their friends have MOVED AWAY! As far as the LEGALITY OF THE PETITION. As far as SERT knew, with total instructions from the county clerk of sharp county, they WERE DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT. It was NOT FAIR that some of the signatures, a woman signing for her husband because he had a stroke...which a phone call was made to see if it was alright, and they were told it was! People that have died, or moved away. etc. Because of some of these signatures the WHOLE PAGE WAS THROWN OUT....SO 24 LEGITIMATE SIGNATURES WERE DISREGARDED. You need to check up on that. Whole pages were thrown out for the few, that were questionable. Therefore,ILLEGAL, I DON'T THINK SO. Had these whole pages not been thrown out with legitmate signatures, we would not have been in this situation. But again sir, you are ignoring the main objection....they got funding from LIQUOR COMPANIES TO STOP THE VOTE, that's hypocritical!Arkansas distributors said they would have like to help SERT, but they felt it would be ILLEGAL. Or at least unethitical. but MO sure did it, CAUSE OF THE MONEY THEY DID NOT WANT TO LOSE. Not to mention, WE SHOULD HAVE HAD THE RIGHT TO VOTE. THERE WERE AT LEAST 4000 LEGITIMATE SIGNATURES THAT WEREN'T CONSIDERED! It will pass next time, without a doubt, people are upset that the right to vote was ignored. This is America!

-- Posted by ham58 on Fri, Nov 21, 2008, at 11:20 AM

From what I was told by one of the people part of the fight against this only a small number of the signatures were examined by the examiner (maybe 5%) and out of those 238 or so were deemed to be fraudulent. I wonder how many more would have been found fraudulent if they would have gone through the complete number of signatures.... Apparantly they only searched for what they needed and then stopped.

I personally signed the petition and thought nothing of it. I was told by an individual whom I believe is a part of SERT that my name wouldn't be made public. Come to find out my name is public along with everyone elses name who signed the petition and anyone can get a copy from the clerks office or probably at your local church. This really doesn't bother me other than the fact that I know I will have a loss of business income because my view will offend some people.

I was also upset to see that by signing the petition I could be called to court in order to prove my own signature. I don't want to have to go to court but I guess if called I will be obligated to show up just becuase I signed my name on a petition!!! I'm sorry but it just simply isn't worth it to me and I won't be signing the petition again for that particular reason.

It looked like the people against this only examined some of the signatures and called only some of the people who signed the petitions. I am sure that next time they will examine all signatures and call a multitude of people to the court room. I look for it to be very, very messy next go around.....

Is there any way that the signatures could be collected and notarized at the court house or clerks office in a more private manner? Maybe they would or could be less contested.

-- Posted by S-R-V on Fri, Nov 21, 2008, at 5:30 PM

I think whole pages were thrown out because Ruth Reynolds did not sign them in front of a notary as is required by law according o the wording on the notary clause. You may want to read the court ruling on that one as to why those pages were thrown out. That would be ILLEGAL on Ruth Reynolds part and the notary's part.

But it still boils down to MONEY. That is the only reason why people are saying that it would be good for Sharp County to be wet. MONEY. Plain and simple.

I think if you went on to re-read and study the verse I first provided, you will find that the motive to make Sharp County is simply wrong.

For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)

People LOVE money, they COVET after it and have ERRED from the faith and PIERCED themselves through with MANY SORROWS.

If you could come up with another reason besides MONEY for making Sharp County wet, maybe more people would go for the idea. As far as voting on it, I believe it was on the ballot. I think people should have voted on it whether or not it was 'counted' just to see if the people really wanted it.

Just remember, California voted to ban same sex marriage and now the courts are trying to overturn what the people already voted on, so I am not so sure you should get yourself all upset over this issue.

-- Posted by Hem on Sat, Nov 22, 2008, at 5:32 AM

Money to be used for road improvements (which is much needed). Money to improve our education system. Money to open more businesses. Money to improve economy. Money to open a hospital. Yeah, what a terrible thing.

-- Posted by ham58 on Sat, Nov 22, 2008, at 11:44 AM

Ok Ham58 no disrespect here and I don't mean to sound ignorant but can you explain to me how making the county go wet would improve roads, build a hospital, or improve our education system? This has sparked my interest and I have done a little research and this is what I have found. This is the break down of tax on a $10 dollar bottle of Whiskey for instance for our county.

6% State Tax .60

3% Excise Tax aka Sin Tax.30

1% County Tax .10

Total Tax 1.00

Looks good so far doesn't it? These numbers are somewhat misleading and I will explain. You see the 6% or .60 cent State Tax goes straight to the state not our county, the 3% or .30 cent tax again goes to the state but this one is then distributed among all counties both wet and dry which leaves only the 1% or .10 cent tax which we ourselves as a county would regognize. Now lets be realistic here. When alcohol is brought into a county there will be an increase in traffic accidents, crime, etc. It won't be to the extent that the people opposing this will say but there will be a small increase. With this small increase there will be a need for one to two more deputies I think we can all agree on that. Now saying that our county will generate say 3 million dollars in alcohol sales (this is a number that someone else estimated and was based on our size as compared to Baxter County) we would see a net income from alcohol sales of roughly $30,000. Doesn't seem like much does it? Now lets figure in the salary of those two deputies, cars for those deputies, fuel and maintenance on those vehicles etc. and lets see what we have. I'm not sure the $30,000 would even pay the fuel and maitenance expenses on the two vehicles per year much less the cost of the cars and the salarys of the deputies. Looks to me like we would be going in the hole.

Now, lets look at where these stores would or could be placed. Based on our population we can have four stores. Where would these stores be placed? I would have thought they would be placed across the county in the most populated areas but I was mistaken. According to the good people at Warehouse Liquor in Mountain Home the ABC or Alcoholic Beverage Commission decides on where they are to be located and this is done by a random drawing. You see if four people who are applying for stores on the other side of the county get drawn we won't get a store here. Kind of sucks doesn't it? Those are the rules.

Looks to me as if the only people that would benefit from this would be the liquor distributors.

-- Posted by S-R-V on Mon, Nov 24, 2008, at 11:31 AM

Interesting figures on the breakdown of the taxes S-R-V. Thanks for the information.

Let's propose to Ham58 on that same $10.00 dollars if it were given a little differently. Let's say that instead of spending it on a bottle of liquor, they gave it DIRECTLY to the school or police department. WOW! What a difference in the MANAGEMENT of one's money.

Let's take the population of just Cherokee Village in the year 2000. That number is 4648. Now if every person in Cherokee Village gave just $10.00 to the school or police department that would be a total of $46,480.00. WAY MORE than getting it the alcohol way. And let's say they would like to make a $10.00 donation once a month. That would come to a grand total of $557,760.00!! WOW! I wonder what our school could do with that? I bet that would be a GREAT investment in our kids' future! Of course it all goes to MANAGEMENT of the money.

Now, realistically, some folks couldn't afford it. Some folks could afford much more. Most people pay $30.00 a month for cable or internet and could go back to the good ole antenna for free if they chose, but sadly most people only think of themselves.

Lots of parents send their kids to private schools and still have to pay the taxes for the public schools. They don't approve of their kids being taught immoral things, but still pay the public school taxes. Lots of people don't have kids in school, but still pay the public school taxes as is required by law. If people really want more money for their schools, they can make a donation. All that money that was collected to pay attorney's fees for the lawsuit could have been donated to the schools to make improvements. It is all about what your priority is. If it is really the school, your checkbook will reflect that. If it is the alcohol store, your checkbook will reflect that too.

So you see, you don't NEED Sharp County wet to get money for the schools or roads or police or whatever.

-- Posted by Hem on Wed, Nov 26, 2008, at 4:39 AM

Yeah, that would be fabulous. But that isn't going to happen.

Look, I'm not going to go back and forth with you on this issue. It's time to get with the rest of the world and grow towards progress.

If you are willing to live with your antenna, you will lose all TV reception in February, just another thing that is getting into the 21st century.

I don't want to drive to MO for alcohol, I don't care how much money it boils down to be, but MO does NOT DESERVE MY MONEY.

And the hypocrits used LIQUOR COMPANY'S DONATIONS (something they are so set against) preventing the rights of the people TO VOTE, which I'll bet passed, by the way. But you have still not responded to that issue.

And I sure do not understand why they would have to have more police - we have plenty - because of putting in a LIQUOR STORE! Do you ever travel to other towns of which most of them have liquor stores and bars, (oh my) and leave your glass house?

But anyway, we must agree to disagree, because you and I will NEVER see it the same way. I want growth and progress in our area, and I welcome new businesses, which in turn provides more jobs, and I feel this is one baby step forward to improve this area.

Have a happy thanksgiving. I'll be having a glass of wine with my dinner.

-- Posted by ham58 on Thu, Nov 27, 2008, at 10:00 AM

It is a shame that people are not willing to invest in their children's future or their community.

As far as the television thing goes, I will not lose anything as I have my converter box up and running. Maybe you didn't hear about those, but you still will be able to get antenna TV for free.

As far as getting liquor company donations, there was nothing ILLEGAL about it. There was also nothing hypocritical about it. Maybe the liquor company had a change of heart and didn't want to see other lives destroyed. I can't answer why they supported the side that they did. You would need to ask them. I am sure though that the other side could have found someone in the liquor industry to support their side. Maybe they just didn't look hard enough. Could it be a bit of jealousy because they didn't think of it first?

If you don't want to drive to Missouri, then don't. No one is forcing you. You choose to. If you don't want to give them your money, then don't. As I said before, no one is forcing you to. It is your choice. There are 32 counties in Arkansas that are wet. If you really chose to keep Missouri from getting your dollars, you would, but it obviously doesn't bother you that much since you are still willing to drive there.

I think the thing you are the most upset about is that you simply did not get your way. As I stated before, if the signatures were collected LEGALLY, I don't think people would have had such an issue with it. But when people try to force and issue by doing things ILLEGALLY, them most folks don't like that. We teach our kids to be honest and we like to be treated fairly ourselves, but to try to get something done in an underhanded manner does not sit well with anyone. I think your anger is focused in the wrong direction at this point. You need to admit that the signatures were collected ILLEGALLY. You can read that in the court ruling. - Make sure your side is doing what it is supposed to do the way they are supposed to do it, and see what happens.

As I said before, as far as the liquor company supporting the dry side, there is absolutely nothing ILLEGAL or hypocritical about it. You would need to go to the liquor company to see why it was that they supported it. Don't just assume you know, because that would be wrong on your part. Has anyone from the wet side actually asked the liquor company why it was that they supported the dry side?

-- Posted by Hem on Thu, Nov 27, 2008, at 4:47 PM

First of all Arkansas Distributors were approached on this topic. They considered it unethical. I still feel she was very hypocritical. And as far as the church donations, I feel that that money could have helped some of the poor members to feed their families, provide clothing for the less fortunate. $30,000 total monies would have gone a long way. But they chose to use it to keep us from our right to vote. Go figure.

I do not feel that the signatures were collected illegally. The committee asked questions and thought they were getting the correct advise, they learned alot, and it won't happen next time. People signed the petition in good faith. The petition was only for the right to vote. What scared the opposition so much? They also could have used their right to vote.

Again sir, we must agree to disagree on this issue, I do not see where you and I could ever agree on much.

Your stuck in your thing, and I with mine. Progress is the point, bringing more tourists, keeping our businesses prosperous, creating more job opportunities, you'd rather not see that, or can't see that. And that's ok! Happy Holidays to you and yours.

-- Posted by ham58 on Fri, Nov 28, 2008, at 9:21 AM

Let's think about this on a realistic level. Although it would be nice I think it is only a pipe dream to think that such chains as the Outback, Ruby Tuesdays, or the Olive Garden will come to our area for the simple reason that we don't have the size such as Jonesboro does. However, if they or any other restaurant chain wants to come into our area they could simply apply for a license to sell it such as they do in Jonesboro which is in the dry county of Craighead.

As far as tourism dollars generated from this why would anyone specifically drive to our county to get booze when it is in all counties around us. The tourist come here for the beautiful rivers and streams. If they want liquor they can stop and get it before they get here. It isn't something that would bring them here. There is no over possession law anymore so guess what you can buy and have all the beer and whiskey you want and bring it into a dry county. No big deal with that. The same applies to the residents that live here. If you don't like going to Missouri or any of the other Arkansas counties to get it because of the drive then buy in bulk. I am sure the liquor stores will give you a good discount. Consider it like shopping at Sam's Club. This would certainly offset fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions or whatever is supposed to be so bad for the polar bears. LOL

It was questioned that there would be a need for at least two more deputies. Remember this, by going wet we wouldn't only get the four liquor stores and beer in all convenience stores there would also be beer joints and honky tonks. You can't just have the one without having all the other. With that will come a certain degree of Riff Raff.

On the subject of the donations, I thought it was interesting that the Missouri distributors put money into this however it didn't surprise me. As I said before the only people here that has anything to gain is the liquor distributors not us as a county.

-- Posted by S-R-V on Mon, Dec 1, 2008, at 4:42 PM

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