Next call: is there any patronage on the wine kiosk contract, anything that might benefit anyone related to someone at the PLCB, or the Governor's Office? (Does this guy know something?) Conti ducks it by saying it followed the same track as the courtesy contract, a track that he already questioned the effectiveness of, but said it was legal. Okay...so you heard it here: Conti is implying that there is no questionable connection between the PLCB or the Governor's office and Simple Brands LP, James Lesser president, of Bala Cynwyd, the only bidder on the contract, according to news stories on this project.
Now read this. Pittsburgh's ABC affiliate, WTAE, breaks the story: there is a Rendell-Simple Brands connection. "Two of the main investors with Simple Brands have given Rendell nearly a half-million dollars in campaign contributions." And Joe "CEO" Conti is right in there pitching it.
[WTAE reporter Paul] Van Osdol: "Any concerns about the perception that might be created from something like this?"
Conti: "As I said, of course, we're concerned about the perception. We understand the nature of your question and we understand why you're here today, but we think we -- in an abundance of caution -- went through a very fair and open bidding process."
Van Osdol: "Was it really fair if there was only one company that responded, and that company was the one that made the original proposal?"
Conti: "It was a very fair and open bidding process."
Sound familiar? Sound just like the "courtesy contract" the PLCB awarded to the company owned by the husband of a PLCB regional manager?
What does it take? How long are we going to continue to put up with this crap? We're told one of the reasons that privatization is a bad idea is because private businesses often defraud the government. Hello? Obviously that argument's a wash.
The kiosk idea is a dopey one -- stick your whole arm into a machine to buy a $15 bottle of wine? -- and the kiosk contract stinks like roadkill in August. It's time --past time to write your legislator and demand that privatization of liquor and wine sales in Pennsylvania be put on the legislative calendar immediately -- or at least, as soon as they've managed to pass a damned budget. The system is antiquated, the system is stupid, the system is corrupt...but worst of all, the system does not serve the citizens of the Commonwealth. The PLCB Should Be Abolished.
"Unless and until there is a general hue and cry, it is very unlikely there will be a privatization initiative that succeeds." -- John E. Jones III, former PLCB chairman.