Who Will Be Held Responsible for the Rube Goldberg Wine Vending Machine Boondoggle?

Sep 23, 2011, 16:53 ET from Independent State Store Union

HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The announcement by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board of the abandonment of its wine vending machine program on September 20, 2011, ensures that Rube Goldberg can rest in peace as even he would have never devised such an absurd contraption.  

"From the outset, the Independent State Store Union has been a vocal critic of this program as the intentional, internal sabotage of the system.  Recent reports/disclosures would bear this out," says David Wanamaker of the Independent State Store Union.

A special performance audit of the program by Auditor General Jack Wagner cited some glaring deficiencies from the beginning.  In the findings, the audit found that while state procurement requirements were followed, "the request for proposals did not enable fair and just competition."

The audit also cited the fact "the board and the sole responding vendor negotiated the kiosk contract in ways more advantageous to the vendor than necessary."  It was asserted in Commonwealth Court that this was a zero-cost contract yet it cost the state money, $1.12 million.

Even more disturbing is the information in a statement released by the House Majority Leader on September 20, 2011, that on July 9, 2008, the PLCB RFP Evaluation Committee submitted a report to the PLCB Chief Counsel's office advising against contracting with Simple Brands.  The committee was advised that the Board would not be reviewing the report and members were told to destroy all copies/documentation relating to the report.  They were told PLCB CEO Joe Conti would meet with them on July 10, 2008.  On July 9, 2008, the PLCB members met and voted to approve Simple Brands proposal.  On July 10, 2008, CEO Conti met with the Evaluation Committee members, told them not to speak of the evaluation and destroy all copies.  Likewise, he assured them their concerns would "be taken care of."  "This is the deliberate suppression/destruction of public information," says Wanamaker.

In the PLCB Official Code of Conduct, there are prohibitions on all Board employees relative to their responsibilities including the provision that:

"No member or employee of the Board shall: use for personal gain
or for the gain of others any information obtained as a result of service
or employment with the Board, and not available to the public at large ..."

"If the timeline in the statement is accurate and factual, CEO Conti should be terminated for violation of the PLCB Code of Conduct as others have for far less egregious offenses.  Nevertheless, as the architect of this boondoggle which has cast scorn and ridicule upon a system that was established for the common good, the CEO should submit his resignation immediately," demands Wanamaker.

SOURCE Independent State Store Union