Any senseless body of law requires a corps of lawyers to make a comfortable living off of it. Hence the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s obscure (because they like it that way) cadre of administrative law judges, who occupy their days with the commonwealth’s baroque liquor code and those who dare violate it.
Well, at least part of their days. As The Inquirer reported last week, investigators from the state Inspector General’s Office caught some of the judges spending the equivalent of a couple days out of the office over the course of a dozen workdays. They spent this time as many of us would if no one cared where we were at 2:30 p.m. on a Tuesday — running errands, enjoying leisurely lunches, and working off said lunches at the gym.
Pshaw, say the judges: You can’t make lawyers punch a clock! “Your mind is always on the job,” one of them said, “and who knows when the great ideas come?” Indeed, and so what if those great ideas include sleeping in?
This was all just fun, though, compared with the other inspector general’s report revealed by The Inquirer last week. It found top LCB officials soliciting and receiving entertainment, jobs for relatives, and booze from those doing business with the agency. That’s right: free liquor for the liquor ministry. Hey, you certainly can’t expect them to pay the prices they’re charging us.
In most places, the next logical headline would be “State liquor control is dead.” But in Harrisburg, it’s “Long live state liquor control!”
Just as the LCB was showing that it’s not only useless but also possibly corrupt, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said he didn’t have the votes to privatize liquor sales. And Gov. Corbett, whose stated opposition to the antiquated agency remains theoretical in practice, said he has every intention of getting to it at some point — perhaps next fall.
Maybe he needs to spend more time at the office, too.