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Supervisors Laud Mildred Carlton
May 10, 2003


A Richmond woman who has spurred new legislation and brought the weight of existing law to bear to stamp out illegal alcohol sales is being toasted by the county for her efforts.

Mildred Carlton was tapped for the People Who Make A Difference Award 2003 by the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors and the Alcohol and Other Drugs Advisory Board.

Carlton, 77, launched the Richmond Citizens Alcohol Coalition in 2000, and the group has since doggedly pursued ordinances to impose restrictions on liquor sales and public drinking.

Silver-haired, gravel-voiced and intensely focused, the longtime Iron Triangle resident has become well-known by bureaucrats and booze sellers alike. She is credited with having shut down some of the city's most problematic liquor stores and has done battle with merchants, elected officials, and bureaucrats, whom she spurns as masters of the loophole.

"Every time you get a good solid law, you get a 'notwithstanding the above,'" she grumped.

"Mildred is very persistent -- very persistent," said Everest Robillard of the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. "Do I get a lot of calls from Mildred? You bet. But she keeps me informed. She's got her ear to the ground."

She has researched crime statistics and faced down more than one hostile consumer -- "I graciously and courteously got rid of him," she said of one encounter. And she has tangled with some merchants whom she might otherwise call friends.

"It's troubling to me," she mused. "They are such fine people in so many ways. They never touch alcohol, but the things they do in their store ... A fellow came in with an open can in his hand, put it down on the counter, handed over his money for another can, and the guy behind the counter didn't say a thing."

The award comes at an auspicious time: Later this month, she goes to court on a protest she filed against one owner. He has appealed.

The Richmond City Council's public safety committee, including council members Tom Butt, Richard Griffin, Mindell Penn and Jim Rogers, nominated Carlton for the honor. She will pick up her award at a ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Board of Supervisors chamber in Martinez.

She said her coalition cohorts -- Susan Geick, Naomi Williams, Myrtle Braxton-Ellington, and Bob Strauss -- have contributed too much for her to accept the award on her own behalf, she insisted.

She can derail praise faster than she can break up a band of loiterers outside a corner store. She'd rather tout the accomplishments of others, like Richmond police Sgt. Ron Berry -- "He has such a good soul" -- or Butt, whom she calls "a priceless gem."

She refused the title of chairman of the coalition. She is simply its coordinator, she said.

But if Carlton never loses steam in cleaning up booze-related problems in the city, officials have apparently lacked her unflagging zeal. Although the city passed an ordinance governing the sale and transfer of liquor licenses two years ago, it has yet to implement all its guidelines, she said. She's ready to rumble.

"This is going to be a bit of a hit against the police department," she said.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rosen Lum at 510-262-2713 or rrosenlum@cctimes.com.