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COUNTY UNit Defeated.
The Local Option Bill Passed the Assembly With Provision Making the County the Unit of Prohibition. But in the Senate, by Narrow Margin, the County Unit Was Struck From the Bill and the Township Unit Substituted.
Wyllie of Dinuba, who introduced the Local Option bill in the Assembly at the 1909 session, also introduced the 1911 measure. Estudillo, who had led the Local Option fight on the Senate side of the Capitol, assumed leadership in the 1911 contest in the Upper House.
The lessons taught two years before were not forgotten. The Local Option people had been schooled liberally at the 1909 session in the fine points of machine deception. They realized that the only way to secure the passage of a Local Option law was to fight for it, and they went to Sacramento prepared to fight.
No chances were taken. The opposition was regarded as an uncompromising enemy of the reform, and was treated as such. Inasmuch as neither the Republican nor the Democratic party had declared for Local Option in their State platforms, the measure was without the party backing which was given the other reform bills. The proponents of the measure were thrown on their own resources. In this independent attitude they
alternated between defeat and success until the close of the session, when they forced one of the most notable reform victories in the history of California legislation.226
The first clash came before a joint meeting of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Public Morals. The scene was not unlike that which attended the hearing on the Walker-Otis Anti-Racetrack Gambling bill at the 1909 session. 227 There was the same denunciation of the proponents of the bill, similar abuse of the clergy, the same questioning of motives, the same predictions of direful injury to California industries if the measure became a law. In 1909 the representation was that if the Anti-Racetrack Gambling bill became a law, the California horse raising and grain growing industries would be seriously injured. In 1911, the protestation was that the passage of the Local Option bill meant ruin for hop grower, vineyardist and grape crusher. But the greater part of the time of the opponents of the bill was taken up with abuse of those who advocated its passage.
The principal speakers who opposed the bill were Henry Austin Adams; J. W. Bourdette of the California Brewers' Association; George E. Farwell, Pacific Coast representative of the National Manufacturers' and Businessmen's Association, and A. Sbarboro of the Italian Bank of San Francisco.
Of Mr. Sbarboro, it may be said, he did not descend
226 The credit for this victory is primarily due to the untiring efforts of Rev. D. M. Gandier, without whose vigilance and tireless devotion to principle, the Local Option bill could not have been passed.
227 See Story of the California Legislature of 1909, Chapters VI and VII.
to abuse and vilification, nor did he denounce the proponents of the measure in lieu of argument. Instead he argued for the use of wines in the home, which was not in issue at all. With vitriolic abuse from most of the speakers in opposition to the measure, and a curious lecture on the wholesomeness of the drinking of wine at meals from Sbarboro,228 the opponents of the bill made little headway.
The proponents of the measure, after stating their case, rested, except for an occasional yielding to the temptation to poke fun at their angry opponents.
Adams, for example, stated that a Vermont town. which had gone "dry," was importing "tons of cocaine" as a substitute for intoxicants.
Chester H. Rowell, who spoke for the bill, goodnaturedly observed that that town must be fabulously rich, because cocaine by the ton costs something like $115,000.
The principal speakers in behalf of the bill were Rev. D. M. Gandier of the Anti-Saloon League; Chester H. Rowell; Hon. E. P. McDaniel, Judge of the Superior Court of Yuba County; and Hon. J. O. Davis of Berkeley, a former Assemblyman, and prominent as a Democratic party leader in California.
The sane arguments 222 of the proponents, presented
228 Sbarbaro's address was the same talk which he has delivered so many times on the liquor question. Sbarbaro's earnestness must be admitted, but he seems utterly unable to understand what Local Option means, or to grasp the fact that the correction of the abuses of the saloon will, in the end, result to the real advantage of the grape grower and legitimate wine maker and seller.
229 The proponents of the bill stuck to the principle that The People have the right to regulate the conduct of any business which exists through public grant of license.
"The right to run a saloon," declared Chester H. Rowell, "is a public right, not a private right. Any community that wants them ought to be permitted to have them; and any community that does not want them should have the right not to have them."
with exasperating good nature, took the opponents of the bill off their feet. After the meeting adjourned, even the leaders of the opposition admitted they had been defeated at every point.
The Assembly Committee on Public Morals finally reported the bill back, the majority recommending its passage, while a minority urged its defeat. The Assembly was quick to adopt the majority report, accepting such amendments as the majority had recommended, and passing the measure on to third reading. This was done, however, in spite of the protest of Assemblyman Schmitt, who took the leadership against the bill, and was prepared to contest every move toward its passage.
Before the measure came up for final consideration, twenty-four Assemblymen 280 met to decide upon the course to be followed when the bill should reach the Assembly floor. Senator Estudillo, who was leading the fight for the measure on the Senate side, was present.
All but two of the Assemblymen present agreed to support the bill without further amendment. The two in question reserved the right to vote for certain amendments on the floor of the Assembly.
But the organized proponents of the bill found their hands full in securing prompt consideration of the
When the bill came up on January 31, Wyllie proposed an amendment which was made at the request of the wine
230 The Assemblymen present at the conference were: Benedict, Bishop, Bohnett, Butler, Cattell, Chandler, Clark, Cogswell, Cronin, Gaylord, Guill, Hamilton, Hall, Hinkle, Hinshaw, Jasper, Judson, Kehoe, Mendenhall, Mott, Smith, Wilson, Wyllie, Young. The conference was not called until afternoon of the day it was held. There was no systematic attempt to reach all the friends of the bill. Many who would have liked to attend knew nothing about the meeting until it had adjourned.
makers. This amendment authorized the delivery of wines in dry territory to heads of households in quantities not less than three gallons. The amendment required the reprinting of the bill. Schmitt of San Francisco was quick to the fore with a motion that the bill be considered on February 6. This delay was not deemed advisable by the proponents of the measure. Wyllie accordingly moved to amend the motion, by making the date of hearing February 2.
Coghlan of San Francisco thereupon out-Schmitted Schmitt by moving as an amendment to the amendment that the hearing be on February 8.
The straightening of this tangle required three roll calls. Coghlan's amendment to make the date February 8 was defeated by a vote of 15 to 49; Wyllie's amendment, fixing the hearing for February 2, prevailed by a vote of 43 to 26, and, as amended by Wyllie, the motion was adopted by a vote of 48 to 16.231
The outcome of this skirmish not only gave the Local Option forces the advantage of early consideration of the bill, but demonstrated that the Assembly was overwhelmingly for the passage of a Local Option measure.
On February 2 came the real fight against the measure. The first attack, and the most important, was made
231 The vote by which the hearing was finally set for February 2 was as follows:
Ayes-Beatty, Beckett, Benedict, Bishop, Bliss, Bohnett, Brown, Butler, Cattell, Clark, Cogswell, Cronin, Crosby, Farwell, Flint, Freeman, Gerdes, Guill, Hall, Hamilton, Harlan, Held, Hewitt, Hinkle, Hinshaw, Jasper, Jones, Joel, Judson, Kehoe, Lamb, Lynch, Maher, Malone, March, Mendenhall, Mott, Polsley, Preisker, Randall, Rogers of Alameda, Rosendale, Smith, Stevenot, Telfer, Williams, Wyllie, Young-48.
Noes-Callaghan, Coghlan, Cunningham, Fitzgerald, Griffin of Modesto, Kennedy, Lyon of San Francisco, McDonald, Mullally, Nolan, Rodgers of San Francisco, Ryan, Sbragia, Schmitt, Tibbits, Wilson-16.