Silly State Law

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: The Harrisburg Patriot-News has uncovered another silly state law administered by the antiquated state Liquor Control Board.

BE: The law that says the only wine on sale is wine selected by "the chairman?"

JB: Sillier. The newspaper's lead story yesterday was about a 1933 law that gives grants to municipalities that don't have police forces to help with local law enforcement.

BE: 1933? That's when prohibition ended.

JB: Yep. Since then, the LCB's given out a total of $410 million, for no apparent reason, with no apparent accounting.

BE: That makes no sense. Who gets it?

JB: Tons of cities, towns and burgs; $2.2 million was handed out in February. Philly got $1 million, and there's another round of the same amount or more coming later this year.

BE: Wait, Philly has a police force.

JB: It does indeed. Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald told the paper the money goes to the police department and the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

BE: But you said the money was for places without police departments.

JB: I also said there was no apparent accountability.

BE: Oh, brother. So how many communities get this dough?

JB: Newspaper says 1,153. Also says only about one-third of those don't have local cops and rely on the State Police for law enforcement. Lots of the grants are small, ranging from as little as $25 to a couple-hundred or a couple-thou, all the way up to Philly's take.

BE: You'd think just the cost of processing a $25 check to Podunk, Pa. would raise some questions.

JB: You'd think a lot of things. Like maybe the legislature would know about it. But the newspaper interviewed several lawmakers who were unaware. Rep. John Payne, R-Dauphin County, when told about the program, seemed to sum up the reaction:"They are writing checks blindly, and they're going to municipalities who are cashing them. There's no audit and [municipalities] are using it for everything under the sun?...That's ridiculous."

BE: He's right.

JB: Another example of state efficiency. Money out the door for who knows what to who knows who year after year after year.

BE: I need a drink.

JB: Hey, maybe you can get a small grant to make sure you're drinking legally.

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