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Another LCB fumble: The status-quo stupor

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With its latest misstep undermining privatization opponents' arguments, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board helps make the case for its own demise.

Before a public meeting and expecting net income to drop from $120.7 million to $96.2 million for 2014-15, the LCB held a closed-door session about raising its markup from 30 to 35 percent as of Feb. 1. That violated Pennsylvania's Open Meeting law, according to Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association.

Yet the LCB maintains no violation occurred because “there was no deliberation” — despite its agendas indicating such sessions are limited to personnel matters and actions approved at prior public meetings. Privatization opponents contend the LCB is good for the public, but it denies the public's right to know.

The markup increase would address rising expenses. But the power of the LCB's unionized employees means reducing labor costs, as a private liquor merchant would, isn't an option — and plundering the wallets of the customers it “serves” is.

And how is it that the LCB, which privatization opponents portray as a mighty “profit center” for the state, has such bottom-line concerns at all?

Disregard for transparency, susceptibility to union self-interest and impending financial woes all bolster the case for ending the LCB's archaic government monopoly on wine and spirits sales.

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