Sunday, December 21, 2014

State audit for troubled liquor kiosks owned by Rendell pals

PA auditor general Jack Wagner will reivew why Simple Brand's liquor kiosks "left customers high and dry" at "the height of the holiday shopping season"

State audit for troubled liquor kiosks owned by Rendell pals

Pennslvania's elected auditor general, Jack Wagner, plans a "special performance audit" of the state Liquor Control Board’s wine kiosks at 30 supermarkets around the state, "which malfunctioned and were shut down Tuesday night until early next year."

Wagner said in a statement he'll check the kiosks for "convenience and additional revenue," which "the Liquor Control Board touted when it awarded a contract to Simple Brands LLC of Conshohocken," the only company that bid on PLCB's 2008 request for proposals, which featured what Wagner called "vague specifications."

“The kiosks’ breakdown during the height of the holiday shopping season has left customers high and dry, and we want to know why,” Wagner said.

Gov.-elect Tom Corbett, a Republican, wants to privatize the State Stores to raise money for the cash-strapped Pennsylvania treasury. Simple Brands is owned by William Weiner, head of the Deb Shoppes retail chain. Other investors include Ira Lubert, whose $12 billion Independence Capital group invests around $1 billion in state pension funds; and former Rendell political fundraiser Herb Vederman. Earlier item here.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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