While North Carolina moved to centralize control over the state’s archaic liquor system and redesign the system’s ethics regulation (see legislation here), Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia has decided to move forward with privatization of the liquor distribution system in his state. North Carolina should follow. I have opined on the issue in an op-ed for the Lincoln Tribune. Please note that the thousands of public employees that I refer to work for local governing boards and not the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Commission.
A Program Evaluation Division report published in2008 lays out a number of issues plaguing our state’s current liquor distribution system, including its failure to conform to demographic and economic changes in the state and lack of efficiency. Furthermore, the outdated system is a product of times gone by when the temperance movement felt it necessary that the state actively attempt to limit liquor consumption – although beer and wine can be sold privately. Is one type of alcohol worse than another? Privatization of the system would allow the liquor industry to effectively correct its inefficiencies and react quickly to demographic changes.
Numerous ABC scandals at the local level have occurred in recent years. New Hanover County has been embroiled in a scandal involving a father-son duo receiving excessive salaries. In Mecklenburg County, a $9,000 holiday dinner paid for by an international liquor company was at the center of a scandal. Greensboro’s ABC Board Manager Katie Alley is currently involved in an ethics issue. On a related note, Alley was recently elected President of the NC Association of ABC Boards; hopefully the job does not require that she teach a seminar on ethics. Privatizing this system would allow the industry to police itself on ethical issues – bad employees would be fired and the state government would not have to worry with it. The ABC System is a distraction and prohibits the state from fully focusing on real issues like transportation infrastructure and education.