We're screwed, it appears.
Oh, shut up. That's just what the PLCB partisans want you to believe! The truth is that the PLCB's incompetence is the gift that keeps on giving. As long as they keep screwing up, privatization is going to be in the Legislature's face, and the Internet makes it even easier to keep up the pressure.
Don't believe me? Take a look at this recent Philadelphia Inquirer poll. "The poll found that 55 percent of respondents supported privatization, 28 percent opposed it, and 17 percent either did not know or did not answer." That's almost 2 to 1 in favor among those who have an opinion. It gets better: "61 percent of respondents in the bipartisan survey said they supported allowing grocery stores to sell beer and wine." Even the clueless Legislature can't ignore numbers like that forever (except they will, because the unions that represent the State Store workers continue to get right in their faces and remind them that they vote and that they give lots of juicy campaign donations).
The PLCB stepped in it again during Sandy last week, when they shut down the entire State Store System for two days. Now, some of the stores were without power, and some were in areas where it was dangerous to drive...but the PLCB drove home the problem with a stupid state-wide monopoly by shutting down every single store, regardless of local conditions. Even some of the employees admitted it was a stupid thing to do.
Want more? How about even more bad press for the goofballs who run the PLCB and the State Store System? That's right, Joe Da CEO was in the news again, and it wasn't because he's a great humanitarian. It's about that dopey Tableleaf in-house wine brand they shoved down the throats of Pennsylvanians. The Legislature wanted to know how and why this lowball wine brand came to be on the State Store System Shelves in (unfair) competition with other brands, and Conti told them that vendors approached the PLCB with wine samples. But that's not the story PLCB marketing director Jim Short tells: he says he went to the wine companies looking for cheap wine to put under the Tableleaf label. Hmmm...a falling out between two of the people at the PLCB under investigation for corruption with vendors?
It gets worse, according to a story on the TribLive website:
Conti told the House committee that the Wine and Spirits Advisory Council, a group of consumers and liquor license holders empaneled by the LCB, tasted samples of wine submitted for consideration by a number of vendors competing for the TableLeaf brand, transcripts show. But those council members deny being involved....In later interviews with the Trib, Conti changed his story again, stating that an LCB wine educator and outside sommelier tasted samples submitted by vendors.But Judy Carroll, a wine educator for the central region of the state, said educators don’t play a role in choosing products. “I do classes and seminars with the people who work in the (state) stores,” Carroll said.She said her six counterparts elsewhere in the state all do the same thing: conduct classes to educate state store workers.And Melissa Monosoff, the sommelier under contract with the LCB from December 2007 through November 2011, said she was not involved in the development or selection of TableLeaf wines “in the slightest” and had “no idea who was.”
Conti, once again, has apparently misspoken. That's the arrogance of the PLCB for you.
Want more? How about this: The LCB, the Board itself, is making a dumb show of its obligation to meet publicly. Check this out, again from the TribLive website:
A Tribune-Review analysis of nearly three years of LCB meeting records, along with attendance at meetings, shows many of the board’s twice-monthly meetings lasted just 15 to 20 minutes with little or no public discussion before votes. Critics speculate the lack of discussion means the bulk of the agency’s decision-making occurs out of public view.“It appears that ... the staff and the board members have developed a way of doing business that is difficult, if not impossible, for an average citizen to follow,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County, an advocate for increased government openness.“Certainly, these issues of how the board operates will be given a fresh look as we work through the legislation for changing the way citizens are able to buy alcohol,” Pileggi said.