My Turn: The end of our way of life

Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2004

As a result of various social pressures, the Juneau Assembly decided that the prohibition of alcohol could cure a few of the evils in our society. Unfortunately for concerned Juneau citizens, words like "prohibition" and "Volstead" are several decades out of style, so they cleverly devised a series of tax increases and smoking regulations designed to run bar owners out of business.

The question that we have to ask ourselves is this: What does Juneau stand to gain here? Is beverage alcohol so bad that we have to run bars out of business?

As bar owners, most of us are reeling from the certain loss that the smoking ban will cause. Soon you will see many of the bars around town going out of business, and when they do, the liquor stores, beleaguered by the constant threat of legal police entrapment (stings) and never-ending tax increases, will falter and close. Alcohol will then be replaced by hard drugs. Drunk driving and domestic violence will be replaced by murder and suicide. The question then won't be whether your kids are out sneaking into bars, but where they're getting drugs that are cheaper and more accessible.

One misinformed writer was so brash as to say that "50 percent of police calls are alcohol-related." That's interesting, because the nefarious bar-owners of Juneau have been informed by the Juneau Police Department that only 700 of the 11,400 total police incidents of last year came from bars.

The smoking ban and the 2 percent liquor tax increase are not the path to prohibition: These laws are prohibition itself! As alcohol beverage servers, the proposed raise in taxes, along with the smoking ban of 2008, will mark the beginning of the end of our profession. The sale of legal alcohol won't be illegal - it will be untenable. Besides, who would want to own a business that is doomed to struggle and persecution when one could rent out the same space to a tour ship company for thousands of dollars each month?

There is a growing sentiment of ill-will toward the alcoholic beverage industry in general, and raising our combined taxes to 10 percent (5 percent sales plus 5 percent liquor) is an ultimatum.

We believe that someday citizens will look back at places like the Midnight Sun curio shop and wonder what the Germania must have been like - or we'll comment on how soothing it would be to have a beer on a rainy afternoon in the Top Hat bar. Too bad it sold out to a sweater company!

With the proposed 2 percent liquor tax increase, I see the end of downtown Juneau as we once knew it, and it's a sad thing to see. One by one, bars will be dropping off and selling out to big business for the simple reason that Juneau doesn't want us here anymore.

• Joshua Adams is general manager of the Alaskan Hotel.

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