There is an underlying evil beneath the beautifully bright red letters ingrained in the conscience of every University of Wisconsin student who has ever sought competitive cigarette prices or a wide variety of delightfully incapacitating cough syrups.
So said a very wise UW junior nearly two years ago. He was talking about Walgreens, the heartland institution that was coming under fire from UW's Lori Berquam and County Exec. Kathleen Falk for promoting beer pong.
"The display is marketed in a predominantly first-year student area, very few of whom are 21," Berquam told a Herald reporter. "And the display was obviously indicating something to do with alcohol."
Of course, at that time, the only beverage you could buy from Walgreens to fill those red cups was root beer, or perhaps codeine. You can imagine how frustrating it is for a store that markets itself as "all-purpose" to lack the essential ingredient of a game its promoting.
Hence, Walgreens has applied for alcohol licenses for five of its stores in the area. At a June 16 meeting of the Alcohol License Review Committee, the panel voted to deny two of the licenses and delayed decision on the other three.
Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff says she opposes licenses for Walgreens in all instances. In an email, she explained her position in terms of health concerns.
I found the testimony of the West High student at our last ALRC meeting to be compelling: drug stores are often a place where families with young children are shopping and also teenagers frequent- I am concerned about the message it sends to be displaying and selling alcohol in this type of retail establishment.
Ald. Mike Verveer based his votes on the "neighborhood support" for the liquor license. Neighborhood refers to the area's alder and any neighborhood groups. In the two denials he voted for, he says the only neighborhood response was negative to liquor licenses for the national chain.
However, as long as the neighborhood is in favor, Verveer does not see why Walgreens shouldn't be eligible for liquor licenses that the city has granted other national chains such as Walmart and Target.
Tonight the Council will likely vote to affirm the ALRC's decision to deny two of the liquor license requests. The other three applications will probably be re-referred to the ALRC for more lengthy debate.