Booze brothers | Arkansas Blog

Booze brothers

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Look this week for a couple of Beebe administration appointments to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control board. Republican appointee Pat Cohee's term is up and J.J. Vigneault, another Republican, has tendered his resignation with a couple of years remaining on his term, giving the governor two slots.

Capsearch, the legislative information service, said last week that Jean Hervey, a Democratic Party regular from Plumerville, will be one appointee. Hervey is black. The commission currently is all white. The other appointee was said to be Martin Silverfield of Little Rock, an executive with Morgan Keegan.

Vigneault said those were the same names he'd heard. He said he was simply tired after eight years of hearing similar cases and arguments at extended ABC hearings. He'll continue his lobbying and consulting work.

In case you haven't noticed, the booze business  has undergone huge changes in the last decade or so under regulation by Huckabee-era appointees and aided by legislative changes. Conway and Jonesboro are so wet with private club permits as to be indistinguishable from dry areas thanks to a law that made it easier to obtain private club permitsin the name of helping economic development. "Dry" Benton County now has more than 100 restaurant club permits. Under this law, the ABC has taken the drink permits to some of the unlikeliest crossroads in Arkansas.  Beer is now sold at convenience stores in Fayetteville, where liquor stores once held a beer monopoly. The de facto monopoly on retail liquor sales in Springdale is over. Sam's Club sells liquor in Fayetteville.

Now if Little Rock leaders would just put Sunday sales on the ballot to match Eureka Springs ...

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