Philadelphia Inquirer: Former LCB chief comes out in favor of privatizing State Stores

The man who once had the greatest say over what alcohol Pennsylvanians could drink has thrown his support behind the effort to take that control away from government and end the State Store system.

Jonathan Newman, the former chairman of the Liquor Control Board, said Tuesday that “the stars are perfectly aligned” to privatize the sale of wine and liquor in Pennsylvania – an endeavor that has failed under three previous governors. “This is the year change is going to happen,” Newman said during a news conference at the Wine School of Philadelphia.

Newman joined House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) and State Rep. Tom Killion (R., Delaware), the sponsors of the bill to privatize the LCB’s wholesale and retail operations.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Not all are toasting changes uncorked by LCB

It is a case of vintage revenge. Wine merchants in Delaware and South Jersey are now clearing shelf space for their old nemesis: Jonathan Newman, former chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

The “xChairman Selections,” as one shop calls them, are the discounted wines that Newman’s new company will introduce in Pennsylvania border states this month.

Newman had risen to the unlikely status of folk hero among Pennsylvania wine lovers, partly because of his celebrated Chairman’s Selection specials. But one year ago, he resigned in protest after Gov. Rendell’s controversial appointment of Joe Conti as chief executive officer of the LCB.

While Newman’s entry into the private sector is intriguing the sip-and-swirl crowd, it also casts a spotlight back on the LCB. The $1.69 billion-a-year agency has been the subject of skepticism and upheaval since Newman left.

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