Saturday, June 18, 2011

Republicans Selling Privatization Down the River

I hate to say this, but privatization may be dead...again. And to my deep disappointment, it's the Republicans in the state Legislature who are killing it. Check out this action in committee this week:
o HB 260 (Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia): Allows the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to implement customer relations marketing programs to offer incentives to customers, extends the Sunday closing time from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., removes the limit on the number of stores allowed to operate on Sundays, increases the range of fines for minor violations of the Liquor Code from between $50-$1,000 to between $100-$2,000, and increases the range of fines for major violations of the Liquor Code from between $1,000-$5,000 to between $2,000-$10,000.
o HB 1356 (Rep. Scott Petri, R-Bucks): Allows the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) to hire employees outside of the Civil Service Act, allows the PLCB to establish a classification and compensation for these employees that shall not be subject to the Administrative Code, and allows the PLCB to purchase all goods and services deemed necessary at its sole discretion.
Let me translate that for you. HB 260 will let the PLCB offer coupons and 'membership' programs, open all their stores till 9 PM on Sundays, and dump more money into the PLCB's budget through fines (fines that are, I'd remind you, imposed by what amounts to an independent system of courts and police). HB 1356 will allow the PLCB to become a total patronage pesthole, hiring whoever they see fit -- under the guise of hiring wine and spirits "experts," experts along the line of Joe Da CEO, I assume -- and buying whatever they want -- more kiosks? more crap vodka brands? more 7' tall bumblebee costumes? -- without any oversight.

I can make it simpler: the Republicans in the Legislature are lining up to give the PLCB bureaucrats everything they asked for to stave off privatization. Why? Cui bono might be a better question. Who got to these guys? Why are they not listening to the voters and citizens of Pennsylvania, who have been consistently polling at over 2/3 in favor of flat-out privatization?

Do you give a damn about privatization? Write your legislator, ask them why they're preparing to ignore the will of the people on this. If privatization goes away this time, it's going to be 20 years before we get another shot at it.


Anonymous said...

lew as i have said before nobody really cares about this issue1 the only people that care are the people feom other state that cant adjust people that want rare items wine and spirits and people that just cant stand the state making money 1

Lew Bryson said...

There's a lot to be said about this, but these points aren't winners. The only people that care about this issue are the union and PJ and His Pals.

By the way..."as I have said before" doesn't really work when you're Anonymous. Just a tip.

Anonymous said...

I think the main obstacle privatization proponents are facing is that it's simply not a major issue for the great majority of Pennsylvanians. If 2 out of 3 Pennsylvanians support privatization, then I'm guessing a majority of them are looking at it as "Do you support better selection and lower prices on wine and spirits in Pennsylvania through privatization?" But when it comes down to it, it's much less simple. If they knew how complicated and risky the dismantling of the system would be, they'd probably be more reserved about their answer. All in all, the arch-enemy of your campaign is indifference among Pennsylvanians. Ultimately, it's such a small inconvenience to people that it becomes a non-issue. I'm a PLCB employee, by the way, though I try to be as unbiased as possible about this.

Michael said...

Oh another anonymous plcb employee telling us what we really want. Piss off, the plcb is a complete failure and most of us want it gone yesterday.
No, it's not worth the incovenience, lack of service, lack of choice, and higher prices just so some smug condescending plcb jerks can receive state pay and benefits for standing at a cash register.
As for whether it's really dead, well I hope Turzai uses his clout on this, because it seems like a priority to him-sorry Anonymous cowards!

Greg said...

The big issue here is not one of selection, but of transparency. The LCB has long been a place for governors to stash friends and donors with no real expertise, since the perks to being the largest wine buyer in the world are enormous.

Anonyous 1, you are dead wrong about one thing; I love that the state makes money. I just think taxpayers have a right to say how it SPENDS that money. Allowing the state to hire non-civil service employees is a good step, for example, but only if there is actual oversight; otherwise we'll just get more nepotism and lots of nephews of state senators.

Without some oversight, it's pretty easy to see how we'll spend money on things that do not improve the consumer experience. Does some state legislator have a friend whose business makes purple inflatable wine kiosks? Contract!

Still, people don't care enough to vote based on this, and better men than Tom Corbett have tried to privatize this system without success.

Anonymous said...

I'm a retired winemaker from California (yes, it is possible to retire from the wine biz). Clear back in 1994 I was trying to get my new brand into PLCB stores. I rode up to Harrisberg with our marketing director. I had 6 samples with me to show the buyer what the wines were like. He asked me to talk about the wines. When I went to open the wines for tasting I was told that they couldn't be opened at PLCB. So, I gave a half hour presentation, talking about the wines without benefit of tasting. My guess is that the jerk took the bottles home and drank them or gave them away. Oh yeah, the wines did get into PA, despite having to deal with the state's one block, six story monument to bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

I think the one area where PLCB employees and abolitionists agree is that eliminating civil service would turn what is already a corrupt system under Joe Conti into a complete cesspool.

Governor Corbett made a huge mistake not cleaning house when he took office. He was so focused on privatizing the system that he has ignored the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars Conti's administration has squandered on political favors (the kiosks, customer service training), ego (Tableleaf) and incompetence (the new inventory systems).

Anonymous said...

To the retired winemaker, would you rather have had to make presentations to a hundred different buisnesses? You spent one day in Pa. and got your product in every store in the state. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Lew Bryson said...

Let's to one big buyer who knows nothing about your product (and clearly will do nothing to hand-sell it), or talk to maybe 20 individual store buyers who actually give a damn and -- if they like your wine -- will probably sell it the way it should be sold?

Yeah, I think that's a more accurate comparison.

Anonymous said...

As I commented on your site on Nov 7, 2010, ( the republicans say they will get rid of the LCB before every election. They say it to get votes. People believe them an vote for the republican. Once they control the slaughterhouse more pork is needed.

They could have at least cut out the CEO job.

Thornburg, Ridge and Corbett.

Lew Bryson said...

Come on, Anonymous; it's a cinch the Democrats are never gonna do it! It's one of those 'we only have to win once' affairs.