By Adam Pagnucco.
Meet the New Liquor Monopoly. It’s the same as the Old Liquor Monopoly, except with less accountability.
OK, now that the applause is dying down, let’s look at the details. The New Liquor Monopoly proposed by County Executive Ike Leggett would be a quasi-governmental authority rather than a county department. It would have the same warehouse, the same equipment, the same trucks, the same ordering and billing systems, the same employees, the same front-line and middle management, the same union and – of course! – the same state-sanctioned monopoly status. This is “change” that only a monopoly would love!
But wait. There is one significant difference. Under the current system, the Executive Director of the Department of Liquor Control (DLC) is a department director who serves at the pleasure of the County Executive. Should the Executive become displeased with his or her performance, that person could be dismissed. The County Council has a role (at least hypothetically) in holding DLC accountable through its power to approve DLC’s operating and capital budgets as well as any debt secured by liquor profits.
Those sources of accountability disappear in the New Monopoly. The proposed authority would be governed by a Board, which would be nominated by the Executive and approved by the County Council, and that Board would hire a CEO. The CEO would not report to the Executive. The council would no longer have approval authority over the New Monopoly’s operating or capital budgets. The New Monopoly would also have unfettered authority to issue debt. Here’s a question, folks – what do you think will happen to liquor prices if the New Monopoly screws up and takes on too much debt? Pish posh – it’s not like the existing Monopoly has ever screwed up, yeah?
We know you can barely contain your excitement. Here is the County Executive’s statement so you can absorb all the dirty details!
At first glance, the New Monopoly is little different from the Old Monopoly. From top to bottom, it is the same entity in terms of capital, labor and processes. But this new beast could be much more dangerous than the old one. It is neither accountable to its customers nor to elected officials. In fact, it is accountable to no one at all.
Folks, it’s time for brutal honesty: our county government has failed us. The liquor monopoly’s problems have been apparent since the first year of the current County Executive’s first term. For nine long years, the county did nothing as the monopoly continued to get worse, culminating in the epic 2015 New Year’s Eve disaster. Thousands of consumers and licensees signed a petition to End the Monopoly and residents even voted for term limits in part due to fury over DLC. And what do we get? A proposal for Endless, Unaccountable Monopoly.
We, the residents and business owners of this county, have not been heard. Our demands for freedom have been subjugated to the crushing burden of alcohol totalitarianism. There is only one thing left to do.
Vote for candidates who will End the Monopoly in the next election.