In addition to state and national contest, voters in Oberlin will decide several local issues as well.
A much talked about change in the liquor laws in two Oberlin precincts is to be decided next week. Precinct 2-A, which includes establishments on the east side of Main Street, are voting on a proposal to legalize the sale of wine and mixed beverages both on and off premises. Joe Waltzer, OC '97, owner of the newly-opened Black River Cafe, was the initiator of the proposed change. He applied to the Ohio Department of Commerce requesting a local option vote. "I've heard no opposition," said Waltzer.
Jai Wei, owner of the Tea House, led the initiative to change liquor laws in precinct 3-B, which includes the College, the Mandarin, the Foxgrape Cafe and the Tea House. The vote will allow the sale not only of wine and mixed beverages, but of spirits and liquors by the glass. The proposal for precinct 3-B also legalizes restricted sale of alcohol on Sundays.
Oberlin has traditionally been a semi-dry town, but attitudes have gradually changed over the past three decades. In 1981, voters rejected a city-wide relaxation of liquor laws, and in 1984 they approved a measure to allow the Oberlin Inn to serve hard alcohol. At present only the Inn is licensed to sell hard alcohol within the city limits.
It seems that the flow of waste water is much less of an interest to students than the flow of alcohol. Few students are aware of the third issue on the Oberlin ballot, a proposal for a 1/5 percent income tax levy for a period of 10 years for the purpose of waste water treatment improvement. The income tax increase would show up on Oberlin students' paychecks, not just on those of city residents.
The proposed tax increase is an alternative to an increase in sewage rates which are expected to be necessary if the levy fails. The increase will have three primary goals, as outlined in the Lorain County Voters Guide:
Because its waste water runs into the Plum Creek, Oberlin has to meet stringent EPA standards for effluents. Plum Creek has limited ability to process pollutants. The levy will cover improvements in the sewage treatment plant and repay debt incurred by the plant in the past.
On the state level, Issue 1 is a proposal to amend Sections 1531.01 and 1531.02 of the Ohio Revised Code to prohibit the hunting or taking of mourning doves in Ohio. It would remove the words "mourning dove" from its definition of games birds, remove a sentence from Section 1531.01 and add a sentence to Section 1531.02 which reads "NO PERSON SHALL HUNT OR TAKE A MOURNING DOVE."
The hunting of mourning doves, which is the most popular game bird in America, has been periodically banned in Ohio in the past.
The argument for the ban is that the mourning dove is a song bird, not a game bird, yielding very little edible meat. They are shot primarily for sport, not meat, and do not damage crops or livestock.
Those against the ban point out that mourning doves are abundant; there are more doves than geese and ducks combined in North America. Thirty-eight states currently allow mourning dove hunting, which takes a small percentage of the bird population. Federal regulations already restrict hunters in the practice of hunting mourning doves, meaning that mass killing would be impossible.
While student interest in national politics is traditionally high, voter turnout is disappointing among Oberlin students. Those registered to vote in Oberlin can play a significant part in both local and state decisions.
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 127, Number 7, October 30, 1998
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