March 25, 2014
WITH APOLOGIES to the NCAA, here in Pennsylvania we got our own "March Madness. " It's the political kind. It's mostly defined as doing the same things over and over expecting different results. For example, we have five Democratic Philly lawmakers allegedly guilty of wrongdoing so common it's part of our Legislature's brand. We should start reading lawmakers their rights along with their oaths of office. Sen. LeAnna Washington faces charges she misused her authority, staff and tax dollars for political gain.
March 19, 2014 |
Three former high-ranking Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board officials violated ethics rules between 2008 and 2012 by accepting gifts, donations, and hospitality from vendors who had business dealings with the agency, the state Ethics Commission has found. The gifts included entry into golf tournaments, meals at upscale restaurants, and, in one case, an engraved bottle of high-end scotch. Together, the items were worth more than $23,000, the commission said in reports released Monday.
March 6, 2014 |
HARRISBURG A high-level official at the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is leaving his $113,937 post days before the release of a long-awaited report into alleged ethics violations at the agency. Marketing director Jim Short notified the agency of his retirement this week, the agency confirmed. Short was one of three LCB officials named in a 2012 confidential report by the state Inspector General's Office that contended they had improperly accepted gifts and favors from vendors.
February 28, 2014
"I CAN'T remember the exact name. Mart something. It's a red wine . . . " "What part of the world is it from?" "I think it's from us?" That's all the info Rob Peters needs. After a lickety-split visual scan and a series of quick steps through the Ardmore Plaza Wine & Spirits store, he's got his hands on the exact bottle - a Cabernet Sauvignon from Louis M. Martini out of Sonoma County, Calif. - that his customer is seeking. Peters has been presented with such cryptic oenophilic conundrums for 20 years, and it's his job to field them.
February 21, 2014 |
HARRISBURG - The state law passed late last year allowing taverns and restaurants to host small games of chance was supposed to be a win for everyone: merchants, bettors, and Gov. Corbett, who is counting on tens of millions of dollars in new gambling taxes. But the numbers disclosed in a budget hearing Wednesday didn't sound like a winning bet. Since the law's passage, only five establishments statewide have even applied for the license. None has been approved. All of which left several senators on the Appropriations Committee in a cold sweat, because the Corbett administration's proposed $29.4 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 banks on collecting $102 million in revenue from small games of chance.
June 4, 2013 |
HARRISBURG - The clock is quickly running down for state ethics investigators to complete an inquiry into allegations that top officials at the Liquor Control Board accepted gifts and favors from vendors and other businesses with an interest in liquor regulation. The Ethics Commission launched its probe last summer on the heels of a confidential report by the state Inspector General's Office that described LCB Chief Executive Officer Joseph Conti, former board member Patrick J. Stapleton III, and marketing director James Short as having accepted gifts and favors in 2011, including wine and tickets to sporting events.
March 26, 2013
'Why would you ever vote for something that ludicrous?" State Rep. Mike Sturla's question last week was an excellent one if turned on its asker, who was engaged in a vigorous defense of Pennsylvania's deeply ludicrous wine and liquor monopoly. Government liquor control has been repudiated by more than 60 percent of Pennsylvanians, more than 70 percent of regular State Store customers, and exactly 96 percent of these United States. And yet, somehow, 100 percent of Sturla's fellow Democratic state representatives voted to perpetuate the state booze ministry.
March 20, 2013 |
HARRISBURG - Call it liquor privatization, makeover edition - and likely the first of many. Members of the state House Liquor Control committee made big changes Monday to Gov. Corbett's plan to privatize sales of wine and hard liquor, toning down the original proposal and making the path toward privatization more gradual. Although it is a scaled-back version of what the Republican governor envisioned, the House panel's approval of the measure - by a 14-10 vote, strictly on party lines - marked a win for proponents, who have pushed for decades to turn the state's 600-plus wine and spirits stores over to the private sector.
March 15, 2013 |
Gov. Corbett again made his case Wednesday for the privatization of liquor sales, saying "antiquated" laws hold Pennsylvania in a Prohibition-era mind-set. "Here in Pennsylvania we make it as hard as possible to buy a bottle of wine on a Sunday," said Corbett, speaking to the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce in Springfield and flanked by business leaders and educators. "We should listen to what the people want. " Corbett's pitch, to make 1,200 liquor licenses available to grocery stores, drugstores, and wholesalers, would lead to $1 billion in revenue, he said.