A front-page Wall Street Journal article that described Utah liquor laws as being "as stupefying as the booze" is being criticized by the head of the citizen panel that drafted the state's liquor reform law.

Stanley Altman, chairman of the Citizens Council on Alcoholic Beverage Control, said Thursday that reporter Ken Wells was editorializing against the law.The impetus for the May 18 article in the widely read national newspaper was apparently the inauguration of Utah's new law that, as of April 25, allows minibottles and wine to be brought to customers' tables.

Wells called that a "20th-century practice" (i.e., "backward" Utah has taken a more modern tack) and then proceeded to poke fun at some of the accompanying changes in the law he seemed to consider bewildering, such as the requirement that alcohol only be served at a customer's table.

That requirement caused some concern among restaurateurs who served drinks in waiting areas until the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control suggested that the law meant drinking could occur anywhere "within a reasonable proximity of table."

Altman said that what upset him most about the article was the fact that it did not point out that the 1988 Legislature also created a task force to see if further changes need to be made in the state's liquor laws.