Residents in one neighborhood got a flyer in the mail recently saying they would get $50 for signing a petition in favor of the Midtown Convenience Store getting a license to sell liquor.
"Fifty dollars for a signature just to get a liquor store. It's not right. That's not right at all," Tyrone Wilson.
But those against it say the store is being shady by trying to bribe people, and they want it to stop.
Right now the Midtown Convenience Store at 43rd Street and Indiana Avenue sells soda and other snacks, but they want to offer customers something else – they've applied for a liquor license.
Wilson said he doesn't want a liquor store just a few doors down from his house for two reasons.
"It encourages more drinking and more violence," he said.
In order to get the liquor license, the store must collect more than 50 percent of the signatures from residents who live in a 350-foot radius around them.
But councilmember Melba Curls was shocked when a resident showed her a letter she got in the mail that tells people they can make $50 in five minutes by simply signing the petition and bringing their ID to the Midtown Store.
"I was surprised, I didn't realize this was happening," Curls said.
So she teamed up with council member Jermaine Reed to stop the bribing.
"They can't go out and try to bribe their neighbors. They can't go out and pay their neighbors any type of dollars so they can actually get the consent," Reed said.
While looking into the situation, the council members discovered there was actually no law against what the convenience store was doing. So the full city council passed an ordinance Thursday night prohibiting any business from giving any kind of compensation in exchange for signatures.
Attorney Richard Bryant, who represents Midtown Convenience Store, spoke about the situation over the phone.
"It's certainly not a bribery. A bribery would compel them to do something they wouldn't want to do," Bryant said. "All they had to do is throw the letter in the trash if they didn't want to do it."
Bryant added that Midtown got enough signatures and turned them in before the new ordinance was passed Thursday.
"We are still on the waiting period to see if we are going to get the license and we anticipate the city will take the appropriate action to comply with the ordinance as it existed when the consents were turned in," Bryant said. "And failing to act properly, my client may have not have any other alternative than to sue the city."
Bryant said he didn't know how many people were paid for their signatures. The new ordinance says, from now on, any petition signature found to have come with money or a gift will be thrown out.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 3:29 PM EDT2013-05-21 19:29:04 GMT
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