The LCB's conflict
Conflicting stories about the state Liquor Control Board's in-house brands keep multiplying. Records obtained by the Trib under Pennsylvania's Right to Know Law contradict CEO Joe Conti's claim that the LCB devoted no resources to promoting those brands.
In fact, the LCB spent nearly $475,000 — about 10 percent of its last fiscal year's advertising budget — with Harmelin Media of Philadelphia to place newspaper, magazine, billboard, mass-transit, radio and online-sponsorship ads for five of its eight in-house brands.
More than 960 private-sector brands — which compete with the in-house brands — had to compete for the rest of the ad budget.
Even the producers of those in-house brands are disturbed. They're members of the California-based Wine Institute, whose counsel says special ad treatment for LCB in-house brands was “government ... picking winners and losers.”
“(T)hey were doing something they should not have been doing and spending money that rightfully should have gone to taxpayers,” says the Allegheny Institute's Frank Gamrat.
Various LCB officials' conflicting stories about the in-house brands make the LCB's self-dealing even worse. Yet the more conflicting stories that emerge, the more the LCB makes the case for its own demise through privatization.
The state has no business in the wine-and-liquor business — as monopoly wholesaler and retailer or as provider and promoter of products competing with the private-sector brands it regulates.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.