Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One Year Later

I started this blog a year ago today.

In that time we've seen the PLCB propose automated wine-selling 'kiosks' and expensive name changes to their monopoly stores. We've seen Joe "CEO" Conti come out of his planning cave to start taking action; much like that symbol of Pennsylvania's greatness, the groundhog, though it's hard to say whether Conti saw his shadow or not. We've seen a contract let -- under questionable circumstances -- for training that appears to be beneath basic expectations. We've seen failures in the State Store System's on-line ordering system. We've seen the PLCB propose a partnership with individual restaurateurs that would be a breath-taking example of unfair monopolistic power. We saw Conti and PLCB Chairman PJ Stapleton bear up under a largely critical audience on a TV call-in show.

We've also pointed out 15 Reasons why the PLCB should be abolished. We've suggested ways for the State to make money on the process, we've suggested ways to cushion the blow to the system's employees, and we've suggested ways for you, the citizens of Pennsylvania, to help this happen. We've run amusing polls on the site. We've made allies in the general public, in the State government, and in the restaurant business, and we've brought some of those people together. We've linked to numerous stories about the PLCB in Pennsylvania's newspapers. We've even published e-mails from PLCB employees.

I've been interviewed for newspaper and radio stories. I've done a video interview. I've written letters to Pennsylvania newspapers. I've written letters to Pennsylvania legislators, to Governor Rendell, and to the PLCB, and received some responses. Despite being a freelance writer, I've yet to sell a story or make a dime on the issue. (That's okay; this is a hobby.)

Have we had any impact? I believe we have, albeit small. We've fed arguments and ideas to people who can use them with greater leverage. We've created a Web presence around which anti-PLCB/anti-State Store System anger and action can coalesce and concentrate. We've connected people who can now work together. We've given the idea of privatization a bit more impetus and legitimacy.

What do I have planned for the next year? Most importantly, more wine. I want to get some guest bloggers in here, people who know what the PLCB's screwing up in wine sales. That has the potential to bring a lot more people in on our side. More alliances, as we find more people and groups who have a natural antipathy to the PLCB: business groups, political groups, enthusiast groups. More confrontation, as we start to take this fight to Harrisburg. More Reasons, of course: we've only scratched the surface. More outrage, probably, as the PLCB moves to implement its plan for spending more of your money to put more lipstick on its piggish monopoly face. And more hammering away to smash the liquor monopoly the State has held for over 70 years.

The State should not be in the retail booze business. The State has no compelling reason to continue the monopoly sale of wine and spirits. The PLCB Should Be Abolished.

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