The grocery industry pulled the plug earlier this month on a planned November ballot measure that would have privatized some functions of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission
. Among other changes, grocery chains such as Fred Meyer and Safeway want to sell liquor in their stores, which today is only possible in a small number of pilot operations.
The combination of unfavorable ballot title language and a lack of time to gather signatures by the July 3 deadline submarined privatization this year.
But the cost of the aborted effort keeps mounting. On June 24, Safeway disclosed a $324,000
contribution to Oregonians for Competition 2, one of the two political action committees pursuing privatization. That brings the total of the amount pumped in to the two campaigns to $2.57 million
—a lot of money to spend for an idea that won't be on the ballot.
, a spokesman for Oregonians for Competition, says the new money will go to paying for expenses already incurred, not new spending. McCormick says the measure's backing are hoping for a legislative solution in 2015, otherwise they will look to the 2016 ballot.
"They have not abandoned their commitment to change the system," McCormick says.