Friday, September 6, 2013

I'm gonna miss Joe "Water Heater" Conti

Acting CEO Joe Conti has finally left the PLCB after collecting about $67,000 for 6 months of "emergency" part-time work.  I say acting because he never really was a CEO. He never took responsibility for anything. Never made a sound business decision and never did anything that improved things for the public or even the store workers. Wine kiosks were "innovative"  so much so that he doesn't care if it takes 20 years to settle the lawsuits. "We may have had an error in judgment, and this may be played out over years or decades in litigation, but this was not a faulty fiscal decision.” . Vodka for Mother's Day went over so well that the ISSU, the union of state store managers, called the CEO and the LCB "You are collectively the number one drug pushers in Pennsylvania.".  Obviously that was $142,000 not well spent.

Then there is the $33 million extra that the new computer system cost.  Why?  The AG says it is because the PLCB basically didn't read and understand the contract.. You can read even more background about the events leading up to this in the 2009 Audit. This lead to the double ordering and storing wine in trailers.

That alone would cause the board or the shareholders (US) to remove the CEO but not old Joe he kept chuggin' along with sweetheart deals for Jose Garces giving him a state store within his restaurant - the only one in the state and never repeated.  That lawsuit by other Philly restaurateurs was settled after Jose Garces actually got a license.  Since that was looking like it would work out for awhile Joe tried to get his daughter a job with Stephen Starr by offering him the same special treatment - or at least that is what the AG says.  That investigation for nepotism and graft is still ongoing but it didn't stop the PLCB from bringing Joe back after he resigned. Supposedly for the emergency reason to find his own replacement even though the Governor said he wasn't going to fill the position. Then there was the questionable contract with the husband of a regional manager to teach the clerks how to say please and thank you. Commonly known as "Smile" training it compared the stress of working a register with the stress President Kennedy felt during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  This went over so well that he approved a second year of it even though customer complaints INCREASED after the training. The Auditor General said: "Although this contract was awarded according to the letter of the law, there are several incidents that occurred that raise serious concerns and put the PLCB's procurement procedures in question." And that isn't the first or second or third time the AG has commented on the PLCB procurement or implementation process. (Audits 1992, 2000, 2007, 2009. 2010, 2012)

There is more, so much more but it all is just repeats of his hubris and lack of business sense and of how out of touch the PLCB system is with the wants and needs of the citizens. "The state alcohol system is a Fortune 1000 company", Conti once said and he was a guy who once helped run a restaurant for a while in charge of it.  He said: "At the end of the day, you want convenience,” and to that end he closed 45 stores, gave us wine kiosks and admitted the state still had 30 unprofitable stores in rural areas, but that they lose less than $1 million annually combined (I guess that makes it OK).  If you can't make money in a liquor store with a complete monopoly then something has to be wrong with the system.

I'm gonna miss you Joe, you were the best friend privatization had but I have faith that whomever they find to replace you or any of the board members will be just as incompetent, inexperienced in business and out of touch with the desires of the public and that gives me hope that privatization will take hold here in Pennsylvania.

How can you hate a guy who's lasting legacy will be making the clerks wear "world -class" aprons like Williams Sonoma?

Privatization IS Modernization - Accept Nothing Less


sam k said...

Good riddance!

Anonymous said...

Joe and the entire executive group are has beens and career bureaucrats. He especially is vindictive, and acts not in the interest of his customers but solely to build political trump cards. He wasn't necessary as the CEO and certainly wasn't needed as an annuitant. He is ethically corrupt and hopefully the report on his transgressions and that of others will wake up the legislature.

Albert Brooks said...

Annuitant - no there is a word you don't see everyday. Plus, you are absolutely correct. The graft investigation has to come to an end sometime and it won't be pretty for the PLCB.

Anonymous said...

The state ethics commission has 360 day to complete investigations and present findings. I think this ship has sailed. When there is an anonymous leak, it is probably just a political smear job anyhow. I think we were taken in. Got to admire the way Corbett/Turzai use every tool in the box. Unfortunately the press wasn't as easily fooled as we were.

Albert Brooks said...

Well John (I'm 95% that it is you), we'll find out in the next 5-6 weeks won't we.

At least Turzai didn't say the PLCB will kill more people if they stick around. We could be enjoying that 9% drop in DUI and DUI crashes like Washington.