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Rocky Blames LDS Church for Alcohol Bills' Expected Failure

Rocky Blames LDS Church for Alcohol Bills' Expected Failure

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Mayor Rocky Anderson is blaming The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the expected failure of two proposed alcohol-related laws.

One was a bill by Sen. Karen Hale, D-Salt Lake City, that would allow charter schools to open near bars, private clubs and restaurants that serve alcohol. The other was Anderson's proposal to change a city ordinance and permit more than two bars per block.

"The church, like anybody else, certainly has a right to make its views known," Anderson said Thursday. "It's the only organization, I think, that seems to automatically get its way among most elected officials."

A spokesman for the LDS church declined comment.

Hale said she never heard directly from the church, but was told by other lawmakers and people in the hospitality industry that the church had concerns about her bill. Mothers Against Drunk Driving also opposed it.

Hale's bill was intended to help the Salt Lake Arts Academy find a home downtown. School officials want students to ride public transportation, use the city library and mix with the business crowd.

State law prohibits alcohol establishments from opening within 600 feet of parks, libraries or schools for kindergartners through 12th-graders.

Anderson called Hale's bill "innocuous," as it would have required the City Council and Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control to agree to the variance after a public hearing.

He added that he didn't blame the senator for pulling the bill.

"Once the church makes its position known on issues like this, everyone knows that's the way it is."

Anderson said that's what makes him believe his bid to convince the City Council to allow more than two private clubs or taverns per block is dead.

Council members said Thursday they are still willing to hear the mayor out, though they have questions about police enforcement.

Councilman Eric Jergensen, who said he also contacted the church along with MADD and the police, said it wasn't fair for the mayor to suggest the idea is doomed because of church opposition.

"Bring us an idea and let's look at it," he said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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