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Lil' Buddy's Blog - The Chicago Local Option Gives Voters Power Over Troublesome Chicago Watering Holes!


Buddy Roots for the Cubs - 09-13-2007Hey, you dogs!  OK . . . who is a Hockey Fan? 

I bleed Cubbie Blue as quickly as any native Chicago Dog - but, now, we seem to have a New Sports Passion around our town - The Mighty Chicago Blackhawks!

Our Home Team is up 2 games to one over the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Playoff Semi Finals, playing tonight at the United Center on the West Side of Chicago, for Game Three.

We seem to really have a chance this year, you dogs!  And, what's even sweeter, there isn't a rival Detroit Red Wing in sight.  That dreaded team from Hockey Town made an early exit from the playoffs, and we haven't seen them since.

"Here Come the Hawks!"

You know, I am generally a responsible, non-indulging dog.  Typically, I stay away from the sauce - you know, the sauce that can get you a lil' tipsy!  You know what I mean . . . yes?

Besides, I've got a while - a very long while - before I would even be old enough to drink those alcoholic concoctions.  But, you know I can voice my opinion, right?  And tell you a little something about Chicago you might not know about.  You ready?

It's called the Chicago Local Option Ordinance, and the City of Chicago is the only big city I know of that has such a thing.

In a nutshell, a local Chicago Ordinance enacted at the end of Prohibition - the Illinois Liquor Control Act of 1934 - gives voters in any Chicago Voting Precinct (typically several hundred families) the right to vote their precinct dry if the majority rules on a special referendum floated during the General Election.  The next such opportunity - November, 2010.

Those wanting to vote their neighborhood dry would have to circulate a petition among their neighbors.  If 25% of all registered voters in a particular precinct sign the petition in a timely manner, the matter goes on the ballot during the next election.

Opponents of a local liquor ban - including affected local bar owners - can object to the referendum.  But, most often, the opponents are buried by those in favor of a ban.

If the measure is approved by a majority of the voters in the election, the precinct could become dry in as little as 30 days after the election - unless, of course, local tavern owners, who stand to lose their livelihood, protest election results, or offer a legal challenge. 

Over the course of history, however, challenges to the Chicago Local Option Law have stood up in court.  Many applaud the ability of the neighborhood voters to hold the power to close a local troublesome tavern - and that power is indeed heeded by those who run local watering holes here. 

Here in Chicago, most taverns actively encourage responsible behavior by their patrons, lest they incur the wrath of neighborhood residents if their guests get out of hand.

Over the years, the Chicago Local Option has impacted not only the small neighborhood saloon, but also some of the biggest purveyors of alcoholic refreshment.

Two decades ago, in the tony Lincoln Park Neighborhood of Chicago, the popular Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill on Armitage Avenue near Clark Street tried to stand up to local residents who protested the bar patrons unruly behavior after the 4 AM bar closed each night.  They used the Chicago Local Option to eventually close the bar down - a bank branch now sits, in much quieter fashion, in its place.

Other impacted restaurants serving bubbly in the same voting precinct also had their liquor licenses revoked.  Although some left, others adopted a BYO policy.  Completely legal, these restaurant patrons can now bring their own wine or beer to enjoy with their dinner.  Often, a modest "corkage fee" applies.

About 24 years ago, as the owners of the Chicago Cubs petitioned to add lights in Wrigley Field, neighborhood opponents threatened to vote in the Local Option for the voting precinct which includes the venerable ballpark.  Can you imagine, you dogs - Cubs Baseball, in Wrigley Field, without the obligatory $6.50 plastic cup of Old Style Beer?

What a disgrace!

Cooler heads, and the Chicago City Council, prevailed - Wrigley Field and other large Chicago Sports Venues cannot be voted dry by local residents anymore.

But, as we talk to residents of other big cities, without such big voter power, many are surprised by our Local Option Ordinance.

Then they remember, however, of the crazy behavior that happened around here during Prohibition - with the likes of Al Capone, Frank Nitti, and Bugs Moran running much of the show. 

And they understand!

During Chicago Blackhawk season, and year round - celebrate responsibly, you dogs!

Or my lil' sister Gracie Ella Moss will get very, very mad.   She'll tell on you to your humans!

Enjoy the weekend!

Please see my post today via BlogChicagoHomes.com.



Comment balloon 1 commentDean Moss • May 21 2010 10:09PM
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