Friday, March 4, 2016


The ABC is having a lot of problems due to the way they physically measure distances from booze outlets and schools/churches.

We've posted several stories about the ABC's lack of tools for its agents and the lawsuits that have resulted.

The ABC uses Google Earth and a measuring wheel to verfiy distances, neither which are very accurate.

Instead of purchasing a subscription to a professional  GIS or GPS mapping service (or using a free one), the ABC will spend unnecessary funds on hiring a surveyor to measure distances in the event information is presented their agents messed up. Maybe tainted ABC Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet should hit up his former boss Cody Hiland for more of that forfeiture money for some law enforcement tools like he did for bullet resistant vests.

This happened recently in the matter of Backdoor Liquor in Haskell (Saline County).

The ABC approved a permit for Backdoor Liquor Store in August 2015. 

Not too long after Mt. Harmony Baptist Church complained to the ABC that the liquor store was too close the their church building and had a survey to back up their claim. 


It is important to note that the Church initially objected to Backdoor's application and sent a letter in June 2015 that stated the distance was over 1000 feet.

Based on the new allegations, an administrative hearing was held in October 2015 and the ABC Board found that two different ABC Enforcement agents, Darrel Talley and Sharon Reed, both ascertained the distance to be over 1000 feet. The surveyor for the church told the ABC Board that his survey measured the distance from the church to the corner of the building that housed  an adjoining convenience store, not the point of the building where the liquor store was located. That was considered a "geographical" error by the ABC Board.

So the Board found that to allow the surveyor to go back an remeasure would do Backdoor Liquor "an injustice" and stated that the evidence indicated that the distance between the two was over 1000 feet.
Hang on a minute...a funny thing about this is that the law was changed in early 2015 concerning how distance was to be measured in regard to the issuance of ABC permits.

And  the ABC should have known about it before a memo went out in October 2015.

Prior to the change, the distance was measured from building to building. As of the date the current law went into effect, the distance was to be measure from property line to property line.

The ABC did not change their own rules & regulations to reflect the change in the law until February of 2016. Almost a year after the law was changed. Incredible.

Back to the story...the Church also hired a lawyer and sued the ABC and Backdoor Liquor. The church alleged that the distance between the buildings was less than 1000 feet, 998 feet to be exact and that Backdoor Liquors permit should be revoked.

ABC Administration realized that ABC Enforcement agents Talley and Reed might have screwed up (remember agents have a history of getting incorrect measurements or even recognizing a church).  So ABC Administration Director Bud Roberts engaged the services on a surveyor to establish the distance.

The ABC surveyor found that the distance was less that 1000 feet.

Now that the ABC had "verified" measurements, they had a problem. They had issued a permit and Backdoor Liquor was now open and doing a booming business. The lawsuit was still active. What to do, what to do.

Tainted ABC Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet requested another hearing.

At this point the official record becomes a little fuzzy.  We obtained the ABC's file on Backdoor liquor on February 18, 2016. There is little documentation about what transpired after the October ABC Board hearing.

KATV ran a story on February 12, 2016 that stated the store was closing in 10 days. Strange, the information the ABC gave us six days later made no mention of the permit being revoked.  No copies of letters, forms, etc. Nada. 

If not for emails obtained in another FOIA request we would not have any record of the ABC's actions with Backdoor Liquor. We did see emails about another administrative hearing set for January 13, 2016 and then reset for a February date due to weather.

But apparently Backdoor had its permit revoked as they had a liquidation sale on February 20, 2016. That means the permit was revoked on February 10, 2016.  Again, there was nothing in the copy of the file that ABC provided to us that had any mention of the permit being revoked.  Bad record keeping? Naw...ineptitude.

According to the KATV story Backdoor Liquor has an appeal hearing scheduled on March 16, 2016 and the lawsuit in Saline County remains active.


We used one of the free GIS mapping services that indicate property lines and it shows that the distance from property line to property line is less that 1000 feet. There are maps like this available for every Arkansas county.


The ABC and the ABC Board acts in arbitrary and capricious manner in dealing with permits and distances from schools/churches.

We previous pointed out an instance in NW Arkansas where ABC Agents screwed up and missed a church that would have prevented the issuance of a permit.  

Then when the same agents went back a short while later to work another permit near that location, they found that they missed a church and that prevented the issuance of the second permit.

The ABC should have revoked the permit issued in error.  By not revoking that permit, the ABC might be in for a little problem with revoking the one for Backdoor.