Forget for a moment ongoing ethics investigations concerning Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board execs and the myriad of reasons to brand the Barons of Booze an abomination. For the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the latest grapes of wrath, served chilled over spending millions in tax dollars branding, marketing and bottling their own “in-house” wine, TableLeaf, paired with executives’ inability to get their origin story straight, screams last call for government-sold alcohol.
In February, PLCB CEO Joe Conti, now under investigation, told the House Appropriations Committee that TableLeaf resulted from suppliers pitching the “in-house brand” program due to a “grape-juice glut.”
But not so, says Jim Short, PLCB marketing director, who claims the PLCB cooked up the idea on their own, seeking out the makers of “Two-Buck Chuck,” to supply the Keystone State with its own brand of wine that would ostensibly compete against other privately run wine brands.
But Conti’s contentions and contradictions continue, unable to jive with his marketing director over whether the new strange brew was put through the proper protocols, even claiming the Pennsylvania Wine and Spirits Association was invited to participate in vetting the vino, a notion its executive director vehemently denies.
So what’s what for the Wizards of Wine? We may never know. As for the Trib, its editorial board sums it up perfectly: “Any credibility the LCB had left is gone.”
Now the larger question remains: Will Governor Corbett and the General Assembly finally stand up to Mr. Conti and the PLCB and not only demand the truth, but for an immediate end to government-sold booze that has wasted millions in tax dollars, unfairly competed with private enterprise and further eroded the trust placed by taxpayers in government officials.
Until then, stay thirsty my comrades.