- Will new PLCB Chairman Skip Brion preside over the agency's demise?
- Is Mike Turzai's HB11 the road to the promised land of privatization, or too flawed to survive?
- Does the PFM report on privatization change anything?
- Will Governor Corbett step in with his own proposal on privatization?
- Does anyone other than Hereditary Union President For Life Wendell W. Young IV and State Store System employees ever write anything in favor of the PLCB in Pennsylvania newspapers?
- Where's Joe "CEO" Conti disappeared to?
Joseph "Skip" Brion was confirmed as the newest member of the PLCB on Tuesday, Nov. 1, and immediately became Chairman. Brion is a Chester County Republican, a lawyer (what a shock...), and openly in favor of privatization. Brion will chair his first meeting next week, and has said the Board needs to "open itself up and be more in tune with what’s going on at the Capitol." That would certainly be a refreshing change, given how totally tone-deaf the PLCB has been in recent years.
But is anything really going to change because of this? Not likely. Brion may be pro-privatization, but he's still a politician, and that means that when the chips are down, privatization rhetoric aside, he's looking for more of your money -- sorry, more revenue -- to spend on programs of variable worth. So don't expect the high taxes that are the most unsupportable part of HB11 (yeah; more coming on that, and soon) to change.
In fact, Brion has made noises that he's interested in "modernizing" the PLCB. And that makes my heart sink. Because I can tell you exactly what will happen. They'll get some stuff through the Legislature -- how, I'll be damned if I know, because we can't seem to get a simple thing like killing the damned case law through in 20 years! -- and the We-Know-What-You-Really-Need Committee will continue their latest course of buying every single crackpot product that comes on the market (even though no one in the system has the slightest clue on what they are or how to sell them), and they'll make a big stinking deal out of it (spending millions more of your tax dollars on marketing a police-enforced monopoly)...and we'll be satisfied just enough to let privatization fade. And within five years, they'll be back to the same lackadaisical shit job they were doing two years ago before Tom Corbett came along and made privatization an issue and got them scared.
Is that too harsh? Think I don't know what I'm talking about? Well, friend, just cast your memory back to the Chairmanship of Jonathan Newman. Remember that? Back when "Chairman's Selection" actually meant something other than "No one else wanted this stuff, so they cut us a deal on it, and we bought a whole bunch and stuck it in a hot trailer for a while"? Because things were great for a while, and Newman was energized, and enthused, and then what always, inevitably happens at this agency happened: someone noticed a buttload of money, and started screwing with it. And all of a sudden we had Joe Da CEO popped in there -- because he had so much experience in off-premise retail and running a huge wholesaling operation, right? -- fiddling with the knobs and pulling on the strings. And the wheels fell off. If you don't think that exact same thing would happen after "modernization," I've got a bridge to sell you.
Don't fall for it. Stay staunch. Let's get rid of HB11, take Corbett's report, and forge a good privatization bill. Blow open the number of stores, find state jobs for the union clerks, get beer in there, kill the case law, open the borders, lower the ridiculously high taxes, and then watch jobs get created. Watch the restaurants in Philly bloom, watch our already great beer scene blossom, and watch the state catch up to the 21st century. Don't give up now: keep the pressure on your legislators.
More to come. Shortly.
Where's Joe "CEO" Conti disappeared to?