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Privatization disastrous

| Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Regarding the editorial “Liquor myths: Union assumptions don't hold water” (Nov. 25 and TribLIVE.com): Despite the Trib's best efforts to distort reality, liquor privatization in Washington state has been a disaster for consumers and every single resident of the Evergreen State.

The Trib cites the “nonpartisan” Washington Policy Center, conveniently ignoring that it is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, well known for its blind devotion to a radical right-wing agenda.

The Trib parrots the claim that documented DUIs and other crimes have decreased since privatization in Washington state, but doesn't point out that the state police complement has been cut by 80 troopers. The editorial ignores the fact that Washington state police cite the reduction in staff as the main reason for any reduction in arrests.

Washington has seen a large uptick in liquor thefts and staggering price spikes, leading consumers to flock across the border to liquor-control states Oregon and Idaho for lower prices and better selection. Small businesses have been driven under as big-box retailers use their purchasing power to destroy Main Street businesses.

The Trib needs to come clean with its readers and fess up: It supports privatization because it wants the ad revenue from the liquor industry. It's perfectly OK to have a vested interest. It's not OK to hide behind the First Amendment to protect that interest.

It's time for the Trib to end the crusade against the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board — a valuable public asset that last year created more than $600 million to benefit all Pennsylvanians.

Anthony M. Helfer

The writer is president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23 in Canonsburg, which includes state store workers.

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