Monday, July 22, 2019

Don't We Deserve a Better Board?

If we have to play by the PLCB rules...could we at least get a better set of players?

Back in 2015 in the Annual Report (page 2), the vision of the PLCB was stated as: "Be recognized as the best-in-class wine and spirits retailer, distributor and regulator in the United States."

Which meant that they wanted to be better than Utah, the only other wine and spirits retailer, distributor, and regulator in the United States. Not a high bar, considering Utah is practically an anti-alcohol theocracy. Four years later, how are they doing? Let's start at the top and go from there.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has three members, none of which over the past 85 years has any previous knowledge of the liquor industry or about running a 2 billion dollar enterprise.

We have a Chairman who has no experience with even a million dollar business, let along something the size of the PLCB. He did make it to Congress, and served on the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry subcommittee, and Transportation and Infrastructure committee, before the citizens decided that he wasn't doing the job they wanted and voted him out. Since there isn't much call for somebody who's chummy with with politicians, and knows a little about Livestock, Dairy & Poultry, the PLCB was a perfect place to put somebody who was owed a couple of favors.

Governor Corbett appointed Republican benefactor Mike Negra to the board. Mr. Negra does have a history of being involved in multiple successful businesses, so at least he has a concept of what is going on, but no actual hands on with the liquor business, or anything the size of the PLCB.

Lastly we have the newest member and first woman ever to serve on the board, Mary IsenhourAlthough you wouldn't know it by looking at the PLCB website. Here it is, over a MONTH after her confirmation, and the PLCB still hasn't decided if she rates being included with the other board members. (Let's see how long it takes for them to include her once this is published.)*

Keeping the public informed through transparency is sadly not the way the PLCB works.  Remember that it took over 100 days before they removed Michael Newsome, and that was only after I poked them with a stick again. Newsome might still be there if I hadn't said anything.

What are Isenhour's qualifications? She was Gov. Wolf's Chief of Staff and a campaign aide. Her business experience is like the others, desperately lacking in knowledge and size. She replaced Michael Newsome, who was Gov. Wolf's CFO in the furniture business -- can't get more qualified to sell liquor than that...or can we?

Remember how we were comparing the PLCB to Utah's State Store System of Stores? So how does the Utah DABC stack up? They have a seven member board that's appointed, but there is also an advisory board of seven members...who must come from defined specific areas of expertise. The Governor can't just willy nilly pick his favorite dog walker to sit on the Advisory Board. Utah specifies that the advisory board members are selected from the following areas of expertise.

Retail Alcohol Industry — Wholesaler Industry — Manufacturing Industry — Restaurant Industry — Utah Substance Use and Mental Health Advisory Council — Alcohol or Drug Related Enforcement — Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health — Alcohol or Drug Abuse Prevention and Education
The Utah version of a Superstore
Another view. Pretty nice, right? 
It is almost certain that since this system was adopted every Utah DABC Advisory member is far more qualified than any that have ever been appointed to the PLCB. This doesn't mean that Utah hasn't had their share of people of limited competence on the Liquor Board. The Governor selects the seven members of the Liquor Board, so it can be and likely is as full of hacks and cronies as Pennsylvania. The difference is that the Utah board can't go off the rails making arbitrary decisions without an adult from the Advisory Board watching them. No deciding that 12 packs are cases, no robot wine armies, no variably price screwing the citizens, and no being over a Billion in debt. Oh, and they have had women on the Boards for years already.

End the PLCB jobs program - PRIVATIZE

*True to form it only took the PLCB 42 days to finally put up a picture.  Not quite as bad as the 102 days it took to take down the board member she replaced.


Anonymous said...

You can only hope that when they put someone new in that their eyes will open to what is really going on and try to change the wrongs. Here is hoping she might accomplish that because the plcb has been mainly a boys club that likes to play and brut like they are something special.
I have a theory about why the plcb puts people in positions that might not be suitable. When you are immersed, they don’t want free thinkers or people who challenge what might be going on. They feel that if they keep it in the same crowd all the secrets will be covered and the indiscretions will be meet with “ I protected you, you protect me”. It is seen everyday and frustrates a lot of people.
Recently Joe Puhalla ( Director) sent out a state wide email because of falsification of time and attendance. Not sure if he is truly trying to fix the theft of this, it is bigger then what they might think. Probably in Chester Co alone each store has falsification of time and attendance in abundance of 8-10 hours each store. If they watched cameras that they spent so much money on to watch the public ( which the GMs love to blame for inventory loss) when it is more internal. The DM case in point is put in a position where he or she is supposed to check these things, but when they are against anything Harrisburg pushes and are covering up indiscretions, where do you go? Audit can be talked into not doing their counts, if GMs just say SIM doesn’t work. Another popular thing is for people to schedule to work a day off tocollect Overtime and then they call out another day so they still have 2 days off but paid for 6. Every time a manager goes on vacation or a day off people will give themself a code to put them in charge to collect extra money, even though only those protected by DM get away with it. Until the plcb is willing to open their communication and understand that their chain of command is broken at every part. They will have to open Pandora’s Box to correct the wrongs, instead of just bullying those who stand up . They are a state run with a false front to hide. You guys have been trying for a long time to shed light inside, and their steel curtain has rust - probably from all the tears of those who have cried their way out of being reprimanded or fired for stealing. Good luck guys!

Albert Brooks said...

Thank you for taking the time to write. While I generally don;t focus on people like Bureau of Regional Operations Director Joe Puhalla or any director unless they do something ridiculously stupid which I'm sure happens far more than I know. (That protection you mentioned). It has always been a wonder how the PLCB moves Directors around into jobs they know little to nothing about. Truly the Peter Principle* at work and so easily observed.

As far as the PLCB's SIM (Store Inventory Management) that has been a problem for years going back to implementation and continuing to the present day. One has to wonder how real businesses do such a much better job with essentially the same software. Probably because their coders actually know what they are doing and have a clear sense of purpose if I had to pick something.

Come back and comment anytime.

*The Peter Principle is an observation that the tendency in most organizational hierarchies is for every employee to rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach a level of respective incompetence.

Anonymous said...

ABSOLUTELY correct in the above mentioned issue.
Inventory is another mess.
No clue what they have or where it went.
Transfer missing inventory from a closed store to it's new location.
If the PLCB had to write off all its inventory that it cant account for...
And Joey Puhalla is out as director