Roy Exum: Our Ridiculous Wine Wait

Sunday, June 08, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

My daily hideaway is a cluttered office above The Market on the Mountain, which occupies most of the first floor. The other part of the first floor houses a small liquor store where customers have to walk back outside, take about 20 steps, and go through a separate door to buy wine. That’s crazy.

In the grocery store is a lot of good stuff to eat, as well as a delicatessen where they make great sandwiches, hot food to go and sell wonderful salads. There is also a wide variety of beer, both domestic and imported, which is okay to buy in the grocery store. Nobody, outside the liquor lobbyists in Nashville, can explain to me why beer is readily acceptable in a grocery store while wine is out of the question until July 2016 at the earliest.

Tomorrow a non-profit organization called Red, White and Food will begin to ask registered voters to sign petitions that will make Tennessee like most other places in America where you can buy wine in grocery stores. The petitions, which will be overwhelmingly popular, will let Tennessee cities put a wine question on our November ballots, i.e. “Should grocery stores be allowed to sell wine?”

I can safely predict every city in the state will approve the referendum. It is just common sense for people who buy wine, and many of those who do not buy wine will also vote in favor of the question to show our lawmakers how much America detests stupid, archaic laws that limit the ease of daily living. The sad fact is the liquor store people spent a huge chuck of stupid money losing this war.

But the real kick in the face is that the liquor lobby twisted the legislature in such a way it will be July 2016 before the public will actually get to buy wine in grocery stores. Conversely, liquor stores will be able to sell grocery items like snacks, mixers, novelty items and other merchandise starting July 1, 2014. That two-year head start is not only unfair and un-American but – candidly -- isn’t what one person in the state wants who doesn’t just happen to own a liquor store.

The whole idea is to be able to buy wine in grocery stores – not pretzels with a bottle of vodka – and it is shameful that our elected representatives would allow campaign contributions from whiskey people to cause a ridiculous two-year wait. Candidly, I think the liquor stores are far from becoming extinct and believe a well-informed operator knows a lot more about a certain Pinot Grigio than a typical grocery-store cashier.

Already liquor stores in the Chattanooga area are feeling the effects of the Costco in Fort Oglethorpe. Because Costco is the nation’s biggest wine seller, they can offer the best prices and put a big dent in a neighborhood store. But the neighborhood liquor store can get creative, can show how much time and gasoline it takes to drive “south of the border,” and still compete with high-octane whiskey. That’s how the free enterprise system works.

I wish the Red, White and Food non-profit would offer two petitions instead of one. It is important that only qualified, registered voters sign the petition to get the vote on this November’s ballot but I’m hopeful that the legislature will change the “wine in grocery stores” bill to where it will go into effect in 2014 rather than 2016. Let’s send the legislature a petition on that. Allowing a small group of sore losers to defy the will of the masses is ridiculous.

Please sign the petitions to allow the wine question on the November ballot. And tell your state legislator “we the people” don’t want to serve a two-year term in purgatory before we join 36 other states in what is best described as “convenience.”

royexum@aol.com



Great Work, City Auditor

As a voter, I was skeptical about having an independent city auditor’s office. This office was created by referendum of the voters. The public wanted third party oversight of city government, for good cause.  I will be the first to admit I was wrong.  A primary problem was the auditor being hired and fired by the mayor’s office, who could also set the auditors operating ... (click for more)

Commissioner Mackey Asks All to Support Football Mocs

The moment that many of us have been waiting for six months is upon us---it is football time in Tennessee.  If you live within the greater Chattanooga area I am asking you to join me in looking upon the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as being our hometown football team.  And it is an exciting team that we can be proud of.    The Chattanooga Mocs will ... (click for more)

Plan Revived For 5-Story Boutique Hotel Next To The Walnut Street Bridge

Plans have been revived for a five-story boutique hotel next to the Walnut Street Bridge. Vision Hospitality Group said the yet-to-be named hotel will provide 90 rooms featuring high-end amenities and exemplary service in the city's art district. Plans for a similar hotel were announced in 2012, but the proposal was later withdrawn. The hotel is slated for 102 Walnut ... (click for more)

Grand Jury Says County Needs To Start "Immediately" On Funding A New County Jail

Members of the Hamilton County Grand Jury said in a final report that the county needs to start "immediately" on funding a replacement for the Hamilton County Jail. The report, read by Foreman Robert Smith, says, "The Jail is near and/or over capacity and understaffed!  Hard-working corrections officers are in constant danger.  Being responsible for 80-100 inmates per ... (click for more)

Orr In On Four Touchdowns, Irish Defeat Pioneers, 34-20

Notre Dame’s Kareem Orr, one of the area’s top college prospects, showed his versatility Friday night while leading the Fighting Irish to a 34-20 non-district football victory over East Ridge at Raymond James Field. Orr caught three touchdown passes, threw for one and had 121 yards of offense as the Irish leveled their 2014 record at 1-1. The Irish play at Chattanooga Christian ... (click for more)

Baylor Comeback Swamps Webb, 34-7

Baylor lost a fumble on the third play of the game and the visiting Webb Spartans scored five plays later, but the Red Raiders came storming back to win their second-straight game, 34-7, over the D-II, Class A two-time defending state champions. Quarterback Nick Tiano, who has already committed to Mississippi State, hurled two touchdown passes and scored a third on a sneak from ... (click for more)