Wednesday, September 2, 2015

PLCB - The Avis Of PA Corruption

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Celebrates the First Federal Charges of the decade!


Harrisburg: The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board today welcomed local officials and the public to the grand sentencing of the former Fine Wine and Good Spirits Premium Collection Store Marketing Director Jim Short. After the guilty plea, refreshments selected by Mr, Short himself will be available at many State Stores.

Jim's new address offers a warm, welcoming atmosphere for convicts to browse the extensive selection of PLCB Wine and Spirits magazines. The focal point of his new residence is a large center table in the mess hall, where convicts can always find staff to answer questions or provide recommendations. Jim is looking forward to seeing his old friends, Joe "Water Heater" Conti and Pat "PJ" Stapleton soon. Perhaps even Jerry "Muddy" Waters will stop in too.

The PLCB only has us in Liquor Jail, we have them in REAL Jail
Rotten at the top, rotten at the core..
Just like the old AVIS commercial that said they try harder, the PLCB is shooting to be the most corrupt agency in PA, displacing the Turnpike Commission, which held that distinction for years.

This is the brain trust that started "modernization," wine kiosks, spent millions to come up with "Fine Wine And Good Spirits," went into competition against Pennsylvania's wineries in their own state (though strangely all the paperwork has gone missing and nobody can remember who came up with that idea). Did I mention the wine kiosks?

This is what the PLCB has been like for decades, a good ol' boy network of political hacks and has-beens doing favors, taking bribes, arranging sweetheart deals, swimming in nepotism, and generally not giving a crap (until their position is threatened, that is).

Is this what Pennsylvania needs? Or would we be better off with the free market that is proven to work in the 42 other states that don't sell alcohol to their citizens?  What do we really get for this system? Are we safer? Not if you look at the national statistics. Are we better served? Let's ask the people who spend upwards of $300 million out of state: regularly. Are we satisfied? In 40 years of scientific polling there has never been one in favor of the state stores over private retail. I guess the citizens know what works since private retail is how you buy everything else in the state!

This isn't the time for new paint and baskets, this is the time for real change. Change to something that works and has worked since the founding of the state: the free market. The time for 1930's thinking is past and has been for a long time. It is time for the PLCB to be tossed on the junkpile.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

2 years in - time to say thanks

Here it is, 2 years since I started writing the blog thanks to Lew's kind offer.  Hard to believe there could be so many things wrong with the PLCB that I could write almost 140 posts in that amount of time. I hope I've kept up the standard Lew set when he started this blog.

2 down, less than 1 to go with luck!
I couldn't have done this as well as I hope I'm doing without all the clerks and office workers passing along tips and information; in a number of instances, things I would never have found out about by myself.  I'm sure our local union stalker would love to root out who they are, but I delete their emails and chats so their identities are protected.

There are a number of Legislators that need thanking. They know who they are, and I appreciate them helping to further the cause. And of course, the readers, to whom I hope this has been a source of information and thought. I know we have PLCB employees who read this but never act on what is brought up. They still can't get all the "Jack Daniel's/Jack Daniel/Jack Daniels" entries correct and I've mentioned that three or four times just this year. 82 years isn't long enough, I guess. (Guys, a tip: put a sticky note on the side of your monitor: "It's Jack Daniel's") Of course, thanks to the FBI for proving what we all knew.

I know we have Legislators on both sides who read us too, some of them want to do what their constituents want and some do not, and some do but aren't allowed by their party, and there are some who don't have a clue what this is all about. Horse, water - you know the rest.

My standard has always been to be able to back up and prove all the factual information I post and to accept anything that disproves it. So far I've not had any takers. I intend to continue that policy, because factual information is the basis of any reasonable discussion.

Here's hoping that year number 3 will be the last, because the State Store System will be a relic of the past.

On a side note to another story, it has now been two months and the PLCB still hasn't figured out how to use those computers enough to put out unaudited numbers for the year.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The PLCB benefits the PLCB

The PLCB makes decisions that work for the PLCB, no matter how many crocodile tears they shed over the prospect of privatization 'limiting the choices in rural counties.' Just ask the people in Lewisburg. They know all too much about how PLCB decisions get made.

News leaked on March 10th that the State Store located in downtown Lewisburg might be moving. The PLCB had not made any announcement nor had they talked to the residents or businesses before making the decision.
We don't care what you want, you'll take what we give you!
Seeing the precarious health of downtown threatened by the loss of the retail store, the community organized. Due to the outcry and involvement of local legislators and a letter writing campaign the PLCB backed off, and said that there was still a chance the store would remain downtown. Guess what? They lied. Even after meeting with State Senator Gene Yaw and local Representative Fred Keller (Hmmmm...both supporters of the privatization bill) in May and again stating that no decision had been made, they were actively looking for a new location. Apparently the $12.75 million in mostly state money used for downtown revitalization since 2012 meant nothing to the PLCB.

Even the option of keeping a smaller store downtown was rejected, though the PLCB keeps lots of small stores open, even stores in close proximity to each other. Newtown Square is a prime example, with two stores within 400 feet of each other. Talk about a liquor store on every corner!

This is not the first time the heavy hand of the PLCB has come down against the wishes of the citizens, citizens who are supposedly the owners of this "valuable asset," as Wendell W. Young IV always puts it. This is a case of the workers telling the owners what to do, then.

This is the same thing as happened in Lock Haven. As I wrote in the Lock Haven post: for 80 years the PLCB has only been concerned with itself, deciding what we should be allowed to buy, where to put stores, how many stores to have (there were over 750 at one point, there are 605 now), and when they should be open. They are like some overbearing, deaf deity, ineptly bestowing its grace upon the masses.

The masses are getting sick and tired of it. Sick of a system that should have been done away with decades ago, sick of being told what they will be allowed to purchase by largely unknowing and incompetent overseers, sick of not having the convenience they see in other states, sick of the case law, sick of arbitrary "interpretations," sick of graft and corruption, and sick of being treated like children.

So the next time you hear that the PLCB benefits all Pennsylvanians, just don't ask the people of Lewisburg or Lock Haven. And the next time you hear Wendell W. Young IV tell us that we OWN this valuable asset...ask him if he knows where we can SELL IT.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The only number you need to know

Do  you want to know how crappy our State Store System is? All you need to know is this single fact. The number of States, Counties, or localities looking to move toward a system like the Pennsylvania liquor system:

Since the bad decisions made at the end of Prohibition, no state has ever shifted from a private free market system to a state-run liquor monopoly. Not once, not ever.

Our system is so good that nobody wants it. No one else believes in it except Utah, the only other state that is like us. Even they are somewhat better off since you can buy beer in grocery stores there! Alabama is looking to change, Montgomery County in Maryland, a "control county," has passed a partial privatization this year, Literally hundreds of towns in Texas alone have "gone wet" and even some here in PA, like Antrim Township.

The truth is that most people do not want to live under the quasi-prohibition model of the PLCB, be they in Pennsylvania or even under the more liberal versions found elsewhere. People want to be able to choose what they want and not what some bureaucrat in the capitol decides they should be allowed to have.

We don't want the corruption monopoly brings, either. Graft and corruption is not limited to the PLCB. North Carloina has its share too. Even 40 years ago there were charges and nothing really has changed since then. PA is no different. 5 senior members charged with graft, longstanding nepotism, junkets and "tastings" for members that have no qualifications to select mouthwash let alone wine for the entire state. 

Painting the PA liquor jail cell a nice bright color, putting up new drapes, and calling it "modernization" will not change the way the system works. The state charging more is no better than anybody else charging more, except that in a free market you can shop somewhere else. You don't have that choice in PA; it's the State Stores...or the State Police.

The State Store System does nothing for the citizens. It limits job creation, tax collection, selection, service, choice, and  entrepreneurial  drive of small businesses.  I think we can do far better: don't you?


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Citizens urge lawmakers to accept Convenience 2016 plan

Commonwealth citizens
 — we, the people forced to shop at State Stores —
 issued the following statement today.

The Citizens urge lawmakers to pass a consumer convenience bill to normalize liquor sales in the Commonwealth. The PLCB issued their "Convenience 2020" scheme three years ago and we have fewer stores and fewer "stores in a store" than we did at the start of their plan. It is time to put into effect a Convenience 2016 plan that will close all the state stores by the end of 2016 and open up the freedom to sell wine and liquor to anyone who wishes to purchase a license and meets current on-premise qualifications.

We Citizens have been treated like children for far too long. It is not up to the state to limit commerce between individuals, corporations and other states in pursuit of the false claim of safety. We are not safer, as any reading of national statistics will show. Even the PLCB reports higher than average underage drinking in the state.

We Citizens want the increase in jobs privatization has proven to bring. We want the decision of which products will be stocked to be made using our dollars as votes and not have a nameless, faceless bureaucrat (who certainly isn't an expert by any industry standards) decide for the entire state. We want the greater convenience that privatization will bring, not some idiot's dream 80 years in the making, but one proven to work: the free market.

If the state thinks that having liquor in grocery stores is a good idea, which apparently they do, then allow grocery stores to sell liquor. Problem solved.

If the state thinks access should be more convenient which again, they apparently do, make more licenses available and stop competing with private business. Another problem solved.

If the state thinks that there should be greater selection, that problem will be solved by any number of superstores waiting to enter the market, or entrepreneurs who want to offer the largest selection possible to win your business. We'll soon see stores with more items on the shelf then the entire state stocks now.

If the state wants revenue, then the free market will give proven increases in sales, which in turn results in more taxes collected. A free market will reduce border bleed with increased convenience and pricing competition, increasing collected taxes even more.

If the state wants to treat their citizens like rational adults that don't need to be told what, where, and how much they are allowed to purchase of a legal product, they will pass this plan.

We are not safer, we are not better served, and we are not satisfied. End false modernization, end false promises, end the state store system. Convenience 2016!

The Citizens represent most of the 12 million people in the Commonwealth who work in the southeast, northeast and central, western and all parts of  Pennsylvania in supermarkets, drug stores, food processing plants, government services, manufacturing facilities, nursing homes, professional offices, and all businesses, except Pennsylvania's "Fine" Wine and "Good" Spirits Stores.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Show me the money!

Bailment was supposed to be this great golden road to increasing the profitability of the PLCB. I'm not seeing it.

If you don't know, bailment is the term used by the PLCB where a product is shipped to and accepted by the PLCB's warehouse, but the ownership of the product doesn't transfer from the supplier to the wholesaler (the PLCB) until that product is actually ordered by a retailer (the PLCB again). It is used to save the wholesaler money because they are not responsible for maintaining inventory, the supplier is. The claim is that bailment reduced costs enough that the PLCB didn't have to borrow $110 million (interest free) from the General Fund to kick start their fiscal year, as they have in the past. Is that what's actually happened? 

It's pretty simple to check: if you don't have to borrow and pay back $110 million, you should have $110 million more to spend or save or invest at the end of the year. So where is it? 

We know it isn't being spent on inventory, since 85% of volume is in bailment, according to testimony given just last week by the Board. And we know that the amount turned into the General Fund hasn't increased by $110 million. It was $80 million in 2008 and it was $80 million in 2014. And we know that "Operating Income" hasn't increased by $110 million.

So where did that $110 million go? Operating income was $130 million in FY 2008 and only $17 million more (13%) in FY 2014 (even though gross sales were up 26% in the same time period, meaning 'profits' dropped significantly...but that's for another post). Operating expenses didn't eat it up either, the $64 million increase wouldn't account for it even if Gross Revenue didn't increase at all, which it did by $82 million. Net assets were $77 million in FY 2014 and $105 million in FY 2008 so it isn't squirreled away in assets either.

So I'm asking. Assume I'm a member of the public, your boss, supposedly — explain to me just where that $110 million went exactly? I won't think any worse of you if you say you just blew it on tasting rooms and such — it would be hard to think worse of you, honestly — but where'd the $110 million disappear to? Show me the money!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Famous PLCB sayings in History

While the Legislature is taking their vacation, just walking away and leaving the most important business they have undone, we thought we'd have a little fun too. We took a few famous quotes from history, and adjusted them to suit the PLCB situation. After all, the Governor spent 35 minutes on the last meeting I thought I could spend 35 minutes working on this too.  Just having some fun...mostly.

Give me the PLCB or give me death. It doesn't matter that they are both the same. - Anonymous UFCW state store clerk

I cannot tell a lie, I really hate the PLCB. - George Washington Smith (the first customer from Pennsylvania at Total Wine in Delaware)

Ask not what the PLCB can do for you, Ask what you can do for the PLCB. Chairman's statement at first Board Meeting. 4/1/33

Let every citizen know, whether they wish us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success -- okay, just the survival -- of  the PLCB - Governor Wolf on the current budget talks 

Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the PLCB when it's wrong. - Ron Paul when looking for a good bottle of Scotch in Philadelphia 2015 

Never in the field of human conflict were so many held hostage by so few. - Winston "Churchill" Rabinowitz when asked about state stores in 1946 

You can always count on the PLCB to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.-
Testimony of Auditor General about Wine Kiosks  3/14/11 

Nobody will ever deprive the Pennsylvania citizens of the right to price, selection and service except the Pennsylvania citizens themselves, and the only way they could do this is by continuing to vote for those who support the PLCB. - "Franky D" Roosevelt 1968 

Since when have we Pennsylvanians been expected to bow submissively to the PLCB and speak with awe and reverence to those who serve us? - William "Judge" Douglas buying drinks for a family reunion 8/9/54 

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified PLCB interpretations which paralyze needed efforts to convert retreat into advance"Franky D" Roosevelt  forty years later in 2008 

The PLCB way of "control"
The objection to Puritans, like the PLCB, is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think. - H.L. Mencken,  The Bard of Baltimore

I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against the PLCB and every form of tyranny over the mind of man. - Thomas "TJ" Jefferson after waiting 4 weeks for his SLO order only to find out it still isn't in. 2009 

The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. If you are from Pennsylvania, you have to go out of state and catch it yourself -.Benny Franklin, buying liquor for his daughter's wedding at Moore Brothers in NJ, 1982. 

The cost of liquor is always high, but Pennsylvanians have always paid it. But one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or PLCB modernization. - John F. Kennedy, Centre county resident speaking to his Democrat Representative Scott Conklin about privatization 2013

What do you need to run a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone; know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed. The PLCB fails all three. David "Burger" Thomas owner of Dave's Liquors Pennsauken, NJ. 1983

No booze is good booze - Governor Pinchot speaking at the founding of the PLCB 1933

I'll leave you with this unadulterated quote:

Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre. Warren Buffett

And the PLCB's time is DONE!