Articles Tagged PLCB
It’s with some hesitation that I mention to you that I was recently quoted in a Metro.us article about my thoughts on the rebranding efforts of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, most of which were probably too obscenity-laden to print.
I’m not hesitant about the article itself, mind you, but I am hesitant about giving the PLCB any more attention at all, at this point. Primarily because there’s no love lost between me and the PLCB.
Actually, there’s no love between me and the PLCB, period. I hate the PLCB.
My friend Lew Bryson, also quoted in the article, puts it best when he describes the PLCB attempting to rebrand itself: “lipstick on a pig.”
To adequately describe how utterly f*cked up the situation regarding alcohol sales is under the state-run PLCB monopoly here in PA, I refer you to PA Rep. Adam Harris’s comments in a December HeraldMailMedia.com article, in which he describes PA liqour reform legislation that went into effect in 2016:
“…the two key components that most people will notice is that they allowed for the sale of wine in grocery stores and other outlets and, beginning in mid-January, beer distributors will be able to sell down to the single unit, including allowing for mix-and-match sales of six packs.”
Eighty-three years after the end of Prohibition in the USA, Pennsylvania residents can buy wine and beer in the same way that most other states have already allowed for decades. Maddeningly, almost incomprehensibly, that is touted as progress under the PLCB and monopoly system in PA. Nothing is said, of course, of the issues with prices, how in-state wine producers’ products are treated, overall selection, shipping limitations, store employee knowledge-levels, and quality of service; because, hey, you’re allowed to mix a six pack now!
The PLCB remains a nightmare for knowledgeable PA wine consumers, who will only constitute a growing number of the population, given how easily wine product information is disseminated and consumed in our current, ultra-competitive wine market. And the fact that it remains such an anachronistic but powerful body in that market ought to scare the entire wine segment, at least a little bit, because no monopoly is going to make doing business easy on the back-end (there just isn’t enough incentive for mutuality – think about it).
It’s long past time to retire this dinosaur, and privatize the tiers of the alcohol business in PA; not just for the benefit of the Commonwealth’s residents, but quite probably for the benefit of the entire wine industry.
In what apparently is Pennsylvania’s latest attempt to prove that it is, in fact, the single worst state in the Union for wine lovers, a recent ruling by Chester County Judge Edward Griffith has put the kibosh on saving a few thousand bottles of wine confiscated from resident Arthur Goldman (who was caught in a sting operation and charged with buying wine outside of the PA state monopoly system, and selling wine in the state without a license). Sorry, but getting angry makes me write run-on sentences, ok?
Through the ruling, the judge Griffith has paved the way for dumping of the confiscated wine (much of which is top-notch stuff), pissing off the state’s wine lovers. The ruling also denies a request by nonprofit Chester County Hospital to have the wine sold to benefit the hospital (presumably, pissing off everyone else in the state, too).
A quote from the judge:
“Since the liquor code makes no provision for condemned wine to be sold for any purpose, the wine may not be delivered to a hospital for sale.”
We cannot fault the judge for upholding current law, since that’s his job. And that law – the PA liquor code – exists, in theory, to control the flow of alcohol in Pennsylvania, and, you know, protect the children! Like the children that are served by… Chester County Hospital!
Ostensibly, however, the PA liquor code seems to be more and more a vehicle to protect the money coming in to the state’s coffers from the alcohol sales controlled by the PA Liquor Control Board. You know, the same board that serves PA’s wine-buying public by spending taxpayers’ dollars inefficiently; instituting expensive, failed initiatives that it’s unclear are even wanted by its customers; selling wine that has been shown to have high levels of arsenic; and committing fraud.
In other words, I don’t think that Pennsylvania is going to be upgrading its wine consumer advocacy grade of “F” anytime soon.
It has occurred to me recently that Pennsylvania’s monopoly control of the purchase, distribution, and sale of alcohol in the state is doomed.
I cannot tell you exactly when it will fall, or exactly how it will fall, but I think I can safely tell you that fall it will, and that we can safely speculate as to why it is doomed.
This occurred to me when I was being interviewed by Tricia L. Nadolny, the Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer who covers Chester County (before you poo-poo that beat, you need to understand that Chester County is one of the nation’s more affluent, has nationally ranked public school systems, and is often cited in top twenty lists of best counties to live in the U.S.). Nadolny was interested in my thoughts about the fate of Malvern lawyer Arthur Goldman’s wine collection, which was seized when he was convicted in a sting operation of selling wines (that you can’t get in PA) to friends, pretty much at cost. Intrepid wine blogger and wine PR guy Tom Wark is also quoted in the article, accurately assessing PA as the single worst state in the U.S. to live for wine lovers.
Here’s the thing: the PLCB and PA’s liquor control are ultimately doomed because enough information on alternatives now flows freely and quickly enough that any PA resident with half a brain and an Internet connection can grasp that the PLCB’s monopoly constitutes a form of repression on free commerce for people who are budding wine enthusiasts.
The logic behind that is simple, and, I think, bolstered by the Inquirer article itself, and, just as importantly, the hundred-plus comments that followed it…
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I keep getting asked what I think about (paraphrasing) “that guy in Philly who got arrested for selling wine.” I happen to live in Chester County, where Arthur Goldman allegedly sold legitimate rare wines from his home, wines that the PA Liquor Control Board don’t offer in their state-run stores.
To the tape:
“More than 2,420 bottles of fine wines valued at $150,000 were seized last week from the home of a Chester County attorney who allegedly ran an underground mail order wine network, authorities said. Arthur Goldman, 49, allegedly has sold rare wines – all unavailable from the state-owned liquor monopoly -from his home in Malvern without a liquor license, according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and is also accused of procuring the wine from a source other than a Pennsylvania liquor store.”
My first reaction was the same as it is to nearly any news involving the prosecution of almost any crimes against the PA liquor code, that it was a bizarre over-reaction by law enforcement. I mean, $150K of material that technically isn’t contraband and isn’t harming anyone is a complete and total waste of a sting operation.
Halfway through the Philly.com news report, it occurred to me that my gnashing-of-teeth hatred of the PLCB is somewhat old hat and uninformed, given that I buy all of my beer from Wegman’s supermarket (which can sell it because it’s acting as a restaurant under PA law) and haven’t spent a penny at a PLCB store in years, since I now get 99.99% of my wine for free. I am no longer a PLCB customer, so my views are skewed.
But then I got to this disturbing bit, which doesn’t take a well-heeled shopper to appreciate: Goldman was charged with “purchasing ‘liquor or alcohol from another source other than a Pennsylvania liquor store.’”
In the Communist-wealth of Pennsylvania, it’s a crime to shop for the wine that you want, if the PLCB doesn’t offer it…
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