With the Tuesday, November 2nd local option election fast approaching, Go Oak Cliff has decided to take a look at the arguments in the case In re Marcus Wood et al. This case argues the validity of the upcoming local option election. In a Petition and Writ of Mandamus, Attorney Andy Siegel presents four reasons why the upcoming local option election should be held invalid or, alternatively, not change the dry status of Oak Cliff:
(1) In 1940, the town of Preston Hollow voted to be dry. In 1945, Preston Hollow was annexed by the City of Dallas and its dry status has not changed. The upcoming local option election does not distinguish between the City as a whole and Preston Hollow. Therefore, the upcoming local option election is invalid.
(2) On September 20, 1975, the City of Kleberg voted to remain dry. Then on April 1, 1978, Ordinance No. 15794 consolidating the City of Kleberg with the City of Dallas was approved. The upcoming local option election does not distinguish between the City as a whole and the City of Kleberg. Therefore, the upcoming local option election is invalid.
(3) When the City of Oak Cliff was annexed into the City of Dallas in 1903, the special law passed by the Texas Legislature changing the boundaries of the City of Dallas allegedly included a provision that prohibited a City of Dallas election from changing the dry local option status of Oak Cliff. The upcoming local option election does not distinguish between the City as a whole and Oak Cliff. Therefore, the upcoming local option election is invalid.
(4) Historic JP7 (now part of current Justice Precincts 5 and 1), which previously elected a dry status, was wholly included in the City of Dallas. Therefore the upcoming local option election will not change the dry status of historic JP 7, which includes Oak Cliff.
In the interest of presenting both sides and, to some extent, discrediting Mr. Siegel’s fine legal work, Go Oak Cliff presents three quite revealing letters.
These three letters are potentially a glimpse into a world of wet/dry laws with which we have little dealings. We have no intentions of explaining how the correspondence fell into our hands. Readers are advised to remember to make no attempt to identify any of the human beings mentioned in the correspondence. It is very unlikely that the portraits painted by the correspondence are complete or much less, wholly just.
Wishful thinking and alcohol are both powerful intoxicants. Equal and opposite errors into which any writer or reader can fall victim. Of course, Go Oak Cliff reserves comment on the mental states of the authors and our readers.
In fact, if we may take a step back and look at the letters Go Oak Cliff has uncovered, this sort of script – it’s not really writing – can very easily be learned by any hack with only a little knack. Anyone making a bad use of these letters shall not learn it from Go Oak Cliff, however.
Please remember to enjoy responsibly.
My Dear A.S.:
I note with grave displeasure that our purchasers will be involved in a Local Option Election after all. You owe us an explanation of why you didn’t pursue your “election-killing” writ and legal brief to the Supreme Court of Texas. Was it too painful to stand upright after being poured out by the 5th District Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Lang-Miers? Do not indulge the hope that you will escape the usual penalties; indeed, in your better moments, I trust you would hardly even wish to do so.
In the meantime, we must now make the best of the situation. Despite the embarrassment you brought upon us, one of our great allies at present remains the Courts. How else can we overrule the will of the people? After all, we don’t even live within the city of these people. So, do not despair yet; many of these “damp districts” have been reclaimed after a Local Option Election with a brief sojourn into the Courts and are now with us. Needless I remind you of North Dallas and In re Davis.
This brings me to your legal brief. The amateurish suggestions in your brief warn me that it is high time for me to write you fully on the painful subject of legal arguments and authorities. I have read only two of your four arguments, but I must take pause nonetheless. Your blunders, if I may characterize your arguments so fondly, did not go unnoticed by Judge Lang-Miers. I must now bring full light on the subject.
Several of your arguments assert that the City of Dallas contains political subdivisions that previously voted dry and that this fact should invalidate the upcoming election. As the basis of this argument, you correctly note that under the local option system, voters in the smallest political subdivision are allowed the maximum possible control over the status of the sale or prohibition of alcoholic beverages. You note that the cities of Preston Hollow and Kleberg are but two examples.
Your story of Preston Hollow is actually a tale of two cities. Following the 1933 repeal of prohibition in the United States, in 1935, a special state constitutional amendment made the entire state of Texas wet, except those areas that had previously voted dry. Accordingly, the town of Preston Hollow was made wet as it had not previously voted dry. Then, in 1940, the town of Preston Hollow voted to be dry by a vote of 97 to 49. In 1945, Preston Hollow was annexed by the City of Dallas and its dry status has not changed.
The second city is the former city of Houston Heights. In 1912, the qualified voters in the city of Houston Heights voted the city dry in a local option election. In 1918, Houston Heights was annexed by the city of Houston and remained a dry portion of the city of Houston. The 1935 constitutional amendment then made the entire state wet, except those areas that had previously voted dry.
In 1935, the portion of the city of Houston formerly known as Houston Heights should have remained dry. Houston Heights, however, was declared wet. An important court case affirmed that Houston Heights should remain dry as the 1935 constitutional amendment preserved as dry any county, justice’s precinct, or city, or town – existing or former – which was dry (due to a previous vote) when the state constitutional amendment went into effect. Of course, any such area had the right to become wet by so voting in a subsequent election within the original boundaries.
Your tale of two cities attempts to claim Preston Hollow and Houston Heights should be treated the same and the upcoming Local Option Election in the city of Dallas should be invalid as Preston Hollow was not treated separately from the city of Dallas due to Preston Hollow’s previous vote to be dry.
Your clumsy slight of hand with the dates did not go unnoticed. As Preston Hollow held its dry election after the 1935 state constitutional amendment, the Preston Hollow election does not receive the benefit of the 1935 constitutional amendment which preserved as dry any county, justice’s precinct, or city, or town which was dry when it went into effect in 1935.
As the residents of Preston Hollow are participating in the upcoming election as a part of the city of Dallas, the election should go forward. Are not the former city of Preston Hollow and the current city of Dallas both cities and political subdivisions of equal rank?
And please don’t make any assertion that the boundaries must be redrawn for the city of Dallas or Preston Hollow to those of 1940. As the law makes plain, only Justice of the Peace boundaries must be redrawn if an earlier successful election occurred within the JP. I have no doubt that is the very reason why this local option election effort is for the entire city and not any group of JPs. I can only imagine the fuss we would make over redrawing boundary lines.
Turning to Kleberg, on September 20, 1975, the city of Kleberg voted to remain dry by a vote of 515 “against the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption only” to 216 “for the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption only.” On April 1, 1978, the city of Kleberg was consolidated into the city of Dallas.
Kleberg was “Dry” before the election was held and remained “Dry” after the election. Simply, the election failed. You know that an unsuccessful local option election does not create a political subdivision with any rights. The previous election in the former city of Kleberg is legally irrelevant and will not invalidate the current election as failed elections are not given any status.
I am spent and disappointed. Should time and temperament permit, I or an associate shall address the remaining two “arguments” in your brief.
Now that City Attorney Thomas L. Perkins has made it successfully through the distress of your first brief and court attempt, he will become much more embolden and therefore much harder to defeat. Are you so ignorant as not to see the danger of this? Work hard, then, on developing stronger arguments. I expect receipt of a new brief before November.
I don’t want to have to address you in this tone. Handle the situation properly and it simply won’t come to this again.
Your affectionate client,