Friday, December 31, 2010

Privatize It !!

North Carolina has been debating (and debating and debating and...) for a year now the idea of privatizing hard liquor sales following reports of surprisingly high salaries and pensions for county ABC commissioners, concerns about too cozy ties with liquor industry reps, and indications of what look to be illegalities if not outright corruption. Not surprisingly, the North Carolina Association of ABC Boards is fighting these efforts.

Contained in that association's own press release from last week is one of the best arguments in favor of consideration of significant reforms, including privatization of sales: 
" North Carolina ranks 3rd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in revenue per capita from the sale of spirits and 48th in per capita consumption. North Carolina's control system for the sale of spirits works, and accomplishes important public health and revenue objectives," wrote Mr. Carr [the association's registered lobbyist, according to the PR]
We rank 48th in consumption but 3rd in revenue, both figures based on per capita bases.  That's outrageous.  That's not a defense of the status quo: that's a strong sign that state is using its monopoly to gouge the public.

What's almost as bad is Carr's contention in the press release that the concerns driving the reform efforts stem only from a single instance of high pay and one incident of "a holiday meal" paid for by a liquor company: that's crap, plain and simple.  Salary concerns were raised in New Hanover and Asheville, and to a lesser extent in Wake and Mecklenburg because salaries in those latter two counties were significantly higher that the pay levels for execs at the state level.  Moreover, the larger concern was over the lack of state oversight of local board activities, including salaries.  Beyond that, the "holiday meal" that Carr refers to was actually $9,334 (some reports say $12,000) affair for 28 Mecklenburg County ABC employees paid for by a liquor company.  And while that got most of the attention, it was but the tip of the iceberg as it was soon found that this occurs regularly across the state, although the tabs are seldom quite so attention-getting.

1 comment:

  1. That is $333 per employee. That ain't no meal at the local BBQ joint... How is that not an ethics violation?