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Anti-21 group mobilizes

BY MITCHELL SCHMIDT | APRIL 26, 2010 7:30 AM

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Opponents of the 21-ordinance, which is set to take effect in Iowa City bars on June 1, have begun mobilizing to campaign against the measure.

A recently formed committee called Yes for Entertaining Students Safely will soon file paperwork to become a political-action committee so it can raise funds for efforts to repeal the ordinance.

The new committee will include both students and community members. In 2007, two groups containing some of the same faces advocated against the bar-entry age law separately: Bloc-21 and the Student Health Initiative Task Force.

Atul Nakhasi, a co-founder of the Student Health Initiative Task Force, said he thinks the allied stance will be more organized.

“We have a very strong approach and great experiences to build on,” said Nakhasi, who is serving in an advisory role for the new committee. “This time we’re unifying under a common theme. The effects of the ordinance affect both groups.”

A Facebook event titled Employee Party Iowa City promotes the first fundraiser for their efforts. Hosted by several local bar and business owners, the event will occur on May 2 at the Union Bar, 121 E. College St., and will feature guest bartenders and DJs from 14 Iowa City bars.

The committee will charge patrons a $10 “entry fee” at the door; they will use the funds to encourage voters to repeal the ordinance, should the issue appear on the ballot in November. Mike Porter, who created the Facebook page and owns three Iowa City bars, said “every penny” will go to the committee’s efforts.

Matt Pfaltzgraf, another co-founder of the Student Health Initiative Task Force, noted donations will likely go toward fliers, T-shirts, and websites aimed at garnering anti-21 voters.

As of 9 p.m. Sunday, around 1,300 people had replied on Facebook that they planned to attend the fundraiser.

According to state law, organizations must register with the Federal Elections Commission as a Political Action Committee when they plan to receive more than $750 in donations. As a PAC, the committee must disclose and document all donations for public record.

“It’s important to be clear and to show the community what it’s being spent on,” Pfaltzgraf said.

In 2007, the Bloc-21 committee pulled in more than $16,000 in donations and fundraising designated to block the proposed ordinance.

The pro-21 group, Committee for Healthy Choices, collected more than $4,000 then. The 21-ordinance went to the polls after that committee collected enough signatures for a petition.

Voters defeated the ordinance that year with 57 percent of the votes.


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