The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission voted Wednesday to deny the renewal of licenses to four stores in Whiteclay. The stores sold three-and-a-half million cans of beer last year alone. The town borders the Pine Ridge Reservation that is plagued with alcoholism.
Scottsbluff attorney Andrew Snyder represents the four liquor stores and says they will take action. He says, “We are going to file an appeal that will be filed with the Lancaster County District Court and we would intend to ask the court to issue a stay of the decision and an order requiring the Liquor Commission to allow the automatic renewal of the licenses.”
Snyder says this is a case of political pressures coming from the governor’s office. He says a governor’s aid told the owners of the liquor stores back in October that there would be big changes coming to Whiteclay. He says since then the four stores have gone through a number of business and personal audits, have been inspected, forced to fill out renewal applications rather than automatically renew their licenses. They have been inspected by the Department of Food and Health because they sell food items and inspected related to their tobacco licenses. Snyder says they passed all the inspections including an investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol on whether they were qualified to hold liquor licenses.
Snyder says, “This has been a coordinated effort on the part of the entire state government to put as much pressure on these people as possible and to basically shut them out of business which is kind of a scary proposition. It just means when your business becomes on the wrong side of the political winds you are in danger.”
The appeals process could take several months.