February 11, 2010 10:05:00 AM
The last domino has fallen: West Point has joined Starkville and Columbus in the club of Mississippi cities that allow liquor sales on Sunday.
Last year, Starkville was the first city in the Golden Triangle to fall, and Columbus soon followed. Both cities petitioned the state Tax Commission''s Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control after a series of public hearings, during which citizens were given the chance to express their opinions, whether they were for or against Sunday sales. A majority vote of city leaders sent the petitions to the state, and they were granted weeks later.
Things went down a little differently in West Point.
The city petitioned the state back in 2008, and while a request to extend bar hours was granted, Sunday liquor was not. The petition for Sunday alcohol faded into (and out of) most people''s memories.
Apparently the state Tax Commission, with no prodding from the city or anyone else, revisited the 2008 petition, in the wake of granting sales in Starkville and Columbus. It decided to reverse itself, granting the city Sunday liquor sales, two years later. Mayor Scott Ross announced the ABC''s decision on Wednesday.
We agree that West Point restaurants and bars should be able to sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday, if they choose to do so -- if anything else, it levels the playing field for all area cities. And, the city already allowed beer and light wine sales on Sunday, so adding liquor to the mix isn''t much of a stretch.
However, we wonder what the outcome would have been if the city were required to again petition the state, rather than have had the old petition dusted off and approved. Since that time, a new Board of Selectmen has been seated. And, an effort by Ross to grant resort status to the downtown business district -- clearing the way for Sunday liquor sales -- was shot down before it got off the ground. (That application had been filed by the Ritz, for the Ritz only; Ross tried expanding it to include downtown and changed his mind after public outcry. The Ritz-only petition is still pending.)
Sometimes the mood, and the opinions, of a community change over time. If a public hearing were held in West Point today, what would its citizens say about Sunday liquor sales? How would the current Board of Selectmen vote?
We''ll be left to wonder. Or, the current board could clear the air -- and get itself on the record -- by voting to affirm the state''s decision. For that matter, would a public hearing, even if it''s after the fact, be overkill? We think not.
The citizens of West Point deserve to be heard -- again.
1. Our View: A strong case for a liberal arts education DISPATCH EDITORIALS
2. Our View: No shortage of cultural offerings DISPATCH EDITORIALS
4. Froma Harrop: 'Death with Dignity' law is least slippery slope NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Dana Milbank: President pariah NATIONAL COLUMNS