New disclosure reports with the state show a group of Iowa City bar owners has raised nearly four times as much money as a group that is backing a proposal to raise Iowa City’s bar entry age to 21. The political action committee, known as Bloc21, has raised $23,000. All of that money is from bar owners who oppose the ordinance that will go before voters on Tuesday.
The Committee for Healthy Choices, which supports the referendum, has raised just over $6,000. Twenty-one only supporter Jim Clayton claims the disclosure reports have helped his side’s effort. "As the bar owners have raised their involvement with the students," Clayton says, "we’ve seen a great deal more energy coming out of the traditional year-round residents of the community." Still, Clayton admits it will be difficult to pass a 21-only referendum next week.
Clayton says, "We’re going to need a massive turnout by the traditional full year-round residents. The students have spoken. They have gotten out the vote. They have over 4,000 people that have cast absentee ballots. That’s a big mountain to overcome, but we have the numbers in town – if we get a good turnout – I think we can make it carry."
Clayton is retired. He ran a business in downtown Iowa City. Supporters of the ordinance say the 21-only measure is needed to curb binge and underage drinking. Opponents argue the measure would only spread underage or binge drinking to house parties, and increase cases of assaults and drunk driving.