Playing Politics at the PLCB

Politics is getting in the way of reform at the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, according to Tribune-Review reporter Kari Andren, who gives us a fascinating look at the internal politics of the PLCB.

If you recall, former CEO of the PLCB (yes, CEO is a government position) Joe Conti retired in February from his $156,700 salary job only to immediately come back as an “emergency employee” for $80 an hour. (That’s some emergency!) If that isn’t bad enough, the hiring of Mr. Conti was controversial from the beginning:

Brought on board during the reign of former Gov. Ed Rendell, Conti’s hiring prompted then-LCB Chairman Jonathan Newman to abruptly resign, citing the governor’s heavy-handed push to have the three-member liquor board hire Conti, a former Republican state senator from Bucks County, without question or input.

And that is just one more reason why politics must be taken out of the booze business: Politicians have created unnecessary positions in government agencies to reward their friends and the powerful, while taxpayers and consumers pay for the consequences. “Modernizing” the PLCB, as some have suggested, will not prevent the pattern of cronyism.

The only solution is full privatization of both the retail and wholesale side of wine and spirit sales. The entrepreneurs and consumers of Pennsylvania can do without “emergency employees,” and the bureaucracy that is the PLCB.