Friday, July 24, 2015

PLCB to change name

It could happen this way. Maybe. 

In an unexpected move to comply with Pennsylvania "sunshine" laws and federal Truth In Advertising regulations, the PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board) has voted to change its name. The two names considered will be left up to the public to choose (see below).

The two names under consideration underwent millions of dollars of testing (paid to a New York consulting group, the same people who came up with the hugely...unnoticed TableLeaf and FWAGS). They anticipate the changeover should only take about 50 years, to allow the use of all the old PLCB letterhead and a website update.

Board member "Skip" Byron explained that the change would take even longer if the stores were privatized. "Probably close to two hundred years. Another reason we shouldn't even think of privatizing - wasting all that paper."

He then laid out the main reason for the name change: misdirection. "The PLCB has gotten a well-deserved bad reputation," he said, "so the further we distance ourselves from that name, the better off we think we'll be. If we choose the right name, people will probably forget all about us being a monopoly. Does anybody still remember that "Fine Wine and Good Spirits Stores" are really State Stores?"

At this point, the PLCB's Minister of Propaganda (Stacey "Why'd I Take This Impossible Job" Kriedeman) pulled him away from the mike, and was overheard asking Byron if he were trying to ruin the whole $3 million rebranding program, requiring even more new signs.

Board chairman Tim Holden had this to say. "For many years the citizens have been asking the PLCB to change. We have heard your voices and have made the biggest change in PLCB history! This is bigger than wine kiosks or TableLeaf or special sections in the back of the store for PA products or anything we have ever done!" He disappeared behind the podium when Kriedeman tackled him, a large Hannibal Lector-type muzzle in her hands.

We have learned that customer voting on the name choice will commence on Veteran's Day, according to a confidential source (board member Michael Negra, but he asked us not to tell). "We won't be here to count them up -- it's another holiday -- but it doesn't matter, since you can vote as often as you want. Our IT department couldn't figure out how to limit the chronic alcohol users to one vote each." We had more questions, but Mr. Negra sprinted off when he saw Kriedeman running toward him.

She paused a moment to catch her breath, and we asked her if this was one of the more difficult assignments she has had with the PLCB. "You better believe it," she said. "It is near impossible to keep track of these three, and then having to say all those inane things trying to put some spin on what they blurt out...Stop taking notes. You can't print that."

Print what?

"You can't print what I just said"

Why not?

"Because if you do, you'll never buy a bottle in this state again!  I'll see to that!"

I don't buy anything in PA now.

"Then nobody you know, your friends, family, anybody with your last name will never get anything if you print that!"

Not a problem. I'll do a podcast instead; I have it all on tape.

She walked off, muttering.

The two proposed names?

Pennsylvania We'll Do And Say Anything To Keep Our Jobs Board
(PWDASATKOJB - kinda rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?)

Pennsylvania Let's Only Do A Little Or Nothing Group
(PLOD ALONG - now that has a nice Pennsylvania Dutch ring to it.)

I think I'll vote a few dozen times for PLOD ALONG, it has that nice tie to history and yet is moving slowly forward. You to can vote for PLOD ALONG...or you can contact your legislators and tell them it is past time to get the state out of the liquor business.


Anonymous said...

Believe it or not...Former CEO Conti wanted to name the store system "Firefly." The firefly is Pennsylvania's state insect.

Albert Brooks said...

Damn, we could have named stores Firefly Lemon Tea, Firefly Mint Tea, Firefly Moonshine whatever shit flavor they have. Just think of all the money the PLCB would get from advertising if they didn't spend it all on lawsuits.

Firefly Distilling
Firefly LLC
One Firefly LLC
Firefly Creative
Firefly Partners
Firefly Communications

You get the idea.

Not that TableLeaf was any better and Corbett was correct in rejecting it but FWAGS just plain sucks. I can't believe they paid millions for that.

Anonymous said...

Al can you answer these? I doubt the PLCB will answer these questions (the pricks can't handle truth).:(

1. What's the difference between the ISSU and the UFCW? Is ISSU in disagreement with the UFCW? I have noticed UFCW ads at state stores but no mention of ISSU.

2. Compared to ISSU, is the UFCW more submissive to the PLCB?

3. Why do state stores need unions? I'm not suggesting the likes of Walmart are the most ethical employers in the retail world, but since state store jobs have been civil service jobs since Day 1 in 1934, do these jobs really need unions to protect workers? I really thought civil service protections were already sufficient on their own.

4. Is it really true that the state stores are more dedicated to enforcing the drinking age than private stores are? I have to question that assertion, because I am 25 and look a bit younger, but have made state store purchases and NOT been asked for ID, and these were credit card purchases...

5. Why is the Democratic Party the party that is opposing privatization? That party is mostly made up of liberals, and is the preferred party of atheists. It would make more sense if the conservative Republican Party (whose members tend to be religious and tend to have puritanical beliefs about alcohol) were the party loyal to the PLCB, with the Democratic Party wanting to dismantle it.

6. Absolutely NO offense meant by this question, though I realize this may be a sore subject: does the PLCB give preference in hiring to minorities? I live in a very white area but have noticed African Americans are the majority of staff at quite a few state stores in my county. One example that really perplexes me is the Bala Cynwyd store: it's in a very Jewish neighborhood but I have noticed the whole staff in the showroom (sometimes maybe five people) is African American. I absolutely do NOT agree with racism or discrimination, but I believe people who live in a neighborhood should be given first preference to have jobs in that same neighborhood.

7. Also, kind of a sore subject, but why have state stores gotten the reputation of having employees that are very rude, uncaring, and unknowledgeable about their own products and services? I have made purchases at over 200 state stores and have noticed some employees are wonderful but many, many of them are unsavory.

8. Why do veterans deserve preference in hiring? I am a very capitalistic person, not a very nationalistic person. Veterans are heroes, certainly, but I believe an individual's personal abilities and strengths should be basis for their employment, not the fact that they survived a brush with death.

9. Even if privatization were to happen, wouldn't there still be major obstacles to impoverished neighborhoods being "targeted" by liquor stores? Pennsylvania could easily institute a requirement that stores selling wines/spirits must either be part of a chain or be at least 10,000 square feet, which would easily stop seedy corner stores owned by foreigners from popping up everywhere.

10. Why are state stores in the "inner city" allowed to operate in a state of horrible physical disrepair, not seeing basic maintenance (or even getting dusted) for many, many years, yet ones in suburbia have art on the walls, and are very frequently remodeled or relocated? This is a very similar to a contradiction that was found in communist countries: dictators preached that their countries had achieved "equality" but in reality, the dictators were eating lobster and drinking luxury spirits while the rest of the people were starving.

Lew Bryson said...

Okay...First, apologies for not getting this approved sooner. It was a busy weekend. Second, some of your points verge on racist. Please be advised that if you continue to build on those, we won't post your comments. Blogger is free; you can start your own blog, but this one stays focused on the issues of the PLCB and privatization of Pennsylvania's State Stores.

1. The ISSU is solely a union of lower-level management in the State Stores. It's a very small union, under 1500 members. The UFCW is a large national union (Canada, too) of over 1.3 million members, and the State Store clerks are only a tiny part of it. The ISSU doesn't have the money the UFCW does. They're also generally much more critical of the PLCB bureaucracy, and they're somewhat anti-alcohol.

2. It seems that way, yes.

3. Many government workers belong to unions. Police and firefighters, for instance. Why this is so is something we'll leave to others to discuss. But it's a fact.

4. That's open to debate, especially since private stores are all different. Some card every purchase, some are undeniably lax. How tough the State Stores are is unknown, since all we really know about them is from self-reporting. They are not checked by the police, like private stores in other states (and like beer distributors and bars are in PA).

5. Without addressing your party characterizations, the reasons in PA are simple. Organized labor has made this an issue, since the State Store workers are unionized. The Democrats have long been the party of organized labor. QED.

6. This does comes across as a somewhat offensive question, despite your intent. The State Stores follow Civil Service rules, which forbid preference on race in hiring or assignment. They are under no obligation to match the race of their employees to the majority race of a "neighborhood," nor should they be.

7. The State Store employees who are that way have probably become so because they realized that the system will not punish them for it. A private employer simply wouldn't stand for it.

8. There are very good reasons for hiring veterans; in general, they tend to be more self-motivated, more neat and squared away, and more honest. However, governmental preferences for hiring veterans is a broader topic than the State Stores, and not really one we need to (or should) address here.

9. The way you say "seedy corner stores owned by foreigners" is somewhat offensive. It leads us to think of Shangy's in Emmaus, one of the best beer stores in Pennsylvania, owned by Iranian immigrants (and very friendly people). We don't need that kind of talk, and we won't have it here. We also believe that Pennsylvania would be better served by the diversity of stores that would come from fewer restrictions on who could own the stores, and we believe that restrictions such as you offer would only result in trading an unresponsive monopoly for a largely unresponsive oligopoly. In particular, we believe that any minimum square footage requirements are a major mistake.

10. There are nicely remodeled State Stores in the "inner city" in Philly and Pittsburgh; there are some that are not so nice. The same applies in rural Pennsylvania. That's part of the problem. The condition of those stores are down to one thing: decisions made by bureaucrats in Harrisburg, not by store owners or managers in the local community.

Again, let's keep the discussion focused on the PLCB, the Liquor Code, and the State Stores.

Albert Brooks said...

You are asking a lot, some of these things I'm not able to give a factual answer to just an opinion but Let's see how it goes.

1. The ISSU is the union of state store managers although not of all of them. At some level. certainly 1A % 1B you don't have to belong to the union. The UFCW is mostly the workers union. There are things they don't agree on but both want to keep the status quo.

2. I have no idea.

3. You can be civil service without being in a union. It is the right of the worker to organize. However, IMO, it is also the right of the worker NOT to belong to a union and to negotiate on their own. It may be easier for a large organization not to do that but that doesn't mean it is the correct way of doing things.

4.There is no factual basis for that claim in PA since our state stores are never checked. In Washington, where they did check the state stores the compliance rate was about 94%. Since Privatization the compliance rate is running 92-92.5%. I would expect it to be similar here. What your personal experiences are are not verifiable and as such can't be considered factual.

5. One of the backbones of Democratic support is organized labor. It seems at this point in time that is more important overall than satisfying what the majority of their constituents want. That hasn't always been the case and I'm sure it will change again.

6.I can't answer that with any authority. The PLCB has a Director of Administration (Gary Hollinger) whose office is in charge of diversity management and there is a Diversity Office listed as one of the Bureaus and a the PLCB has a diversity statement but I've not seen any specifics if there is a PLCB equivalent of affirmative action or any preference.

7. I can't comment on your opinion beyond to say that reputation is earned not given.

8. Being a veteran myself I can see why it is done. You give X amount of time to help preserve the system we live under and the state gives you a small benefit to help you catch up to your contemporaries who were moving ahead while you served. If you think that is reasonable or not is again, your opinion.

9. Yes, there is no provisions in any privatization plan to allow the transfer of licenses outside the county of origination. If county Y has 100 places to buy liquor now they will still have 100 places to buy liquor later. The legislature can easily limit ownership like in New Jersey and can put size requirements in if they want for new licenses.

10. You'll have to ask the PLCB about specific stores it is a question I can't answer.

Anonymous said...

Historically, ISSU has been a firm supporter of a strong control state and opposed any effort to modernize. ISSU frequently criticized the PLCB for anything that appeared to ease up on the control factor. They regret getting away from the counter stores. They are strong supporters of Gov. Pinchot. UFCW is much more sensitive to the politics and will do anything that preserves the membership. When the pressure is off they don't care what the PLCB does. I might add that the PLCB board members and UFCW share a common goal...SURVIVAL. If you were to file a freedom of info request for ISSU correspondence you would still be laughing a year from now.

Many of the employees you see are part-time employees that do not have benefits and are at the low end of the payscale. While these employees would like to get full time status and benefits it can take years to do so. Unless you are a student, retiree or looking to supplement your income this does not work for many and so they move on if possible.

All state agencies support diversity including hiring veterans and minorities. The PLCB actively recruits and looks to have a workforce that reflects the communities where stores are located

Albert Brooks said...

Its nice to say this "The PLCB actively recruits and looks to have a workforce that reflects the communities where stores are located" but where does one find that in writing?

Anonymous said...

You need to look at their annual equal opportunity report that is submitted to the Office of Administration. I doubt if it is online but they have one.

Anonymous said...

Albert - The PLCB Director of Administration, Gary Hollinger, is no longer there. It is reported that he left abruptly w/o notice. They seem to go through personnel quickly.

Albert Brooks said...

Thanks to both Anons for the update and info.

Albert Brooks said...

Odd that PennDot has their report online. I would think the requirements would be the same.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Amish/Mennonites (as I thought you were alluding to with the horse buggy), are they an obstacle to privatization? I figure a number of Lancaster County villages with an Amish or Mennonite community are dry and thus no stores selling alcohol exist at all. In fact, there's a Dollar General in Paradise (actually a very impoverished farm community) but no other retail businesses whatsoever. It would seem to make more sense if a state store were in the Dollar General spot, but I'm thinking the town must forbid it.

Lew Bryson said...

Luckily, I grew up in Paradise, so I can assure you that's incorrect. Not that it has anything to do with the original post, of course. Paradise is not dry, and it's not really impoverished nor primarily a farming community. The Amish wouldn't have anything to say about privatization; if things don't affect them directly, they don't get involved. The Mennonites, maybe, but the reps from Lancaster county's rural areas all voted for privatization, so...guess not.

Anonymous said...

Spot on Lew! Good to see relevant personal experience expressed . Jeez give Lew a hat and he is there man!