LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Several Lubbock residents, Chamber of Commerce President Eddie McBride in particular, have said the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission was unorganized in handling this protest.
"I think the T.A.B.C. procedures weren't followed the way they should have been," said McBride of the recent Lubbock alcohol protests.
Lubbock protestors filed a blanket protest against any alcohol permits in the city, not just against a specific person or location, something the T.A.B.C. had never encountered before. Originally the agency said they would hold a hearing for these protests, but now they announced the agency has no authority to certify an area as wet or dry.
Local Attorney Zack Brady has worked on this issue and says smaller towns can opt out of alcohol sales. "Local municipalities have the ability under the alcoholic beverage code to have their own local option election, and if a municipality wants to do that they simply have to, someone in that municipality has to begin a petition process just as happened here," said Brady.
"Currently the protests policy doesn't say anything specific about protests based on wet/dry certification, and it will be revised to make it clear," said T.A.B.C. spokeswoman Carolyn Beck.
"They finally made the decision that we encouraged them to make from the very beginning," said McBride. But even before McBride's criticism,
This isn't the first time the T.A.B.C. has noted issues with their protest policy.
In an earlier internal audit, the T.A.B.C. shows they've had previous problems, going as far as to say parts of their protest system were dysfunctional.
In the self audit more than a year ago the agency noted the term protest was not clearly defined. The audit also says, "tracking and reporting on protests at T.A.B.C. has been dysfunctional until recently" and that in the sample of protests studied for the audit a number of significant differences were found in the handling of investigations.
The audit also reported the agency would fix these issues by implementing a new database called Agency Reporting and Tracking System or ARTS, which the audit said should resolve the problems.
The T.A.B.C. says they now have a new protest form for the public to use on their website. The aegncy says it also streamlined the protest process so it now includes many steps in which T.A.B.C. contacts the applicant and the protestant to keep them informed of where we are in the process.
T.A.B.C. officials say they hope to begin issuing permits in Lubbock in the next few days.
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