Just because the State House hasn’t resumed debates over whether or not to sell off the Pennsylvania’s liquor stores doesn’t mean the LCB is out of hot water. Two reports coming out of the state’s Inspector General’s office paint a rather unflattering view of the booze board, and how it conducts its business. The first one kind of confirms what most suspect about the organization; it’s rife with mooches and layabouts who rarely show up to work, and when they do, they get little done. The Inquirer reports that investigators found that the agency’s seven administrative law judges, who preside over liquor-code violation cases, regularly arrived to work late, left early, and failed to file the proper paperwork for time off. One is accused of trying to stick the state for a vacation to Bahamas.
The second report details how the agency’s top ranking officials regularly accepted gifts and favors, including booze, tickets to sporting events and golf outings with pros, from vendors and other business-folks with an interest in alcohol. The report goes on to deatil how the LCBs’ chief executive officer Joe Conti leaned on Stephen Starr to set his daughter and brother up with jobs within the restaurateur’s empire. Conti reportedly dangled the possibility of greasing the skids for Starr to insert a wine boutique, similar to the one at Garces Trading Company, into a future Starr entity.
Starr’s quoted, saying that the only reason Conti’s daughter was hired was, “because she was good.”
The first report recommends “appropriate disciplinary action” against the judges, and the second one was reportedly handed over to the state Ethics Commission. There’s no word on how this effects the currently stalled privatization debate, but we’re guessing if it ever gets picked back up again and actually goes through, there won’t be much sympathy for displaced LCB employees.
LCB judges’ work habits are faulted [Inquirer]
Top LCB officials said to take gifts, favors from vendors [Inquirer]