MT: ‘No-sell’ alcohol list for downtown Missoula shelved

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

MT: ‘No-sell’ alcohol list for downtown Missoula shelved

Missoulian

By Martin Kidston

July 7, 2015

A program intended to curb the sale of alcohol to individuals cited for bad conduct in downtown Missoula didn’t make its spring debut, and the committee that created the plan isn’t likely to launch it this summer.

The Mayor’s Downtown Advisory Commission worked on the proposal well into the spring with the intention of rolling it out April 30. The unveiling was delayed and a new date was set for May 15, which also passed.

Ginny Merriam, the city’s communications director and the commission’s facilitator, said compiling the “no-sell” list proved to be more complicated than first envisioned. The program was intended to run for six months on a trial bases.

“It became problematic on what criteria to base the list,” said Merriam. “We wanted it to be effective and simple, and it turned out not to be that simple.”

The program, dubbed Partners for Responsible Alcohol Sales, intended to use public record information from Missoula Municipal Court to generate a list of the top 10 to 15 individuals who have been cited for bad conduct involving alcohol.

Offenses were to include open container violations, disorderly conduct, theft, pedestrian interference and aggressive panhandling, among others. Fifteen downtown retailers supported the proposed no-sell list, including Worden’s Market and Deli owner Tim France.

“I don’t know the answer to why I haven’t seen the list,” France said. “I can imagine it’s more difficult to put together than they first thought. It’s a moving target for one thing, and I’m sure it’s going to take a little longer to get her done.”

Keithi Worthington, senior deputy city attorney who attempted to compile the list, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

Even without the list, France said downtown hasn’t seen the array of problems experienced in recent years. He attributes the perceived drop in alcohol-related problems to evolving policies and procedures, “tempered with some experience.”

France credited the Homeless Outreach Team, the city’s downtown police officer, retailers and downtown ambassadors for their collective effort.

“There are still a handful of people this list was going to address that are still pretty scrupulous,” France said. “But we’re more proactive and able to anticipate problems. People are starting to understand that if you anticipate these problems, sometimes you can move them along before they get started.”

Merriam said the commission had a teleconference planned with Billings to learn more about that city’s program. In the meantime, Worden’s will continue using its own list to restrict sales to problem individuals.

“It’s not on paper, but every day we get up and if we see a potential problem, we point it out to everybody,” he said. “But there are some people who are tenacious and they figure out ways to get around it.”

France said they usually get others to buy alcohol for them.