The PLCB is really quite masterful at driving people to drink with its various shenanigans. Maybe it's a sales tool! In the past two years alone, we've had the chairman-Jonathan-Newman-resigns-in-huff flap and the fishy $173,000-contract-for-employee-training flap and, of course, the PLCB partnering with businesses to open wine boutiques flap and now, a brand new flap over those self-serve wine kiosks that are supposed to be popping up in grocery stores by 2010. Our food-loving Governor Fast Eddie is, of course, involved.
Two of the main investors in Simple Brands, the company that the PLCB has contracted with to build the kiosks, are big-time contributors to Rendell's political campaigns. Like $500,000 contributors. Guess how many bids were submitted for the kiosk-building job? Just one.
Reporter Paul Van Osdal at the ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh broke the story:
One of the company's main investors is Philadelphia businessman Ira Lubert. He is a part owner of Pittsburgh's Rivers Casino and he has given Gov. Rendell $140,000 in campaign contributions. Another investor is Herb Vederman. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Rendell once said outside his family, he had never loved any other man as much as Vederman. He was Rendell's campaign finance chairman, giving the governor $300,000 in contributions.
Van Osdol: "Any concerns about the perception that might be created from something like this?"
Conti: "As I said, of course, we're concerned about the perception. We understand the nature of your question and we understand why you're here today, but we think we -- in an abundance of caution -- went through a very fair and open bidding process."
Van Osdol: "Was it really fair if there was only one company that responded, and that company was the one that made the original proposal?"
Conti: "It was a very fair and open bidding process."
Maybe the PLCB needs to work on its Clintonian definition of fair and open? Just a thought.