Contact: Wendi Leggitt (212) 681-1380 or (301) 247-0528

COALITION TO PATERSON: WHY BOTHER HAVING A COMMISSION? Governor Ignores Blue Ribbon Panel ALBANY, January 25, 2010 – The leaders of the Last Store on Main Street today blasted Governor Paterson for ignoring a December 15th report by the Law Review Commission on the State Liquor Authority that clearly stated the Governor should not propose the legalization of wine in grocery stores in his 2010-11 Executive Budget. The coalition delivered its message at a hearing today of the Assembly Standing Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce, and Industry chaired by Assemblyman Robin Schimminger. “What was the point of having a commission spend all that time and money to produce a report if you are just going to ignore it?” said Jeff Saunders, founder of the Last Store on Main Street coalition and president of the Retailers Alliance. “Rather than follow the recommendations of the Commission, the Governor clearly followed the wishes of Big Box store lobbyists who are looking to destroy our businesses. That’s just wrong.” In its testimony today, the Coalition pointed out that:
• •

The Commission’s report specifically said the State should put wine in grocery stores on hold because it required a significant and independent economic review; The report appropriately recommended changes that would allow stores to sell compatible NON-FOOD items but did not recommend allowing stores to sell food items despite testimony pushing that point of view by Big Box store lobbyists. The Governor, on the other hand, heeded the call of those lobbyists in his legislation; The report recommended continuing the current three-tier distribution system, rejecting suggestions to allow stores to sell in bars and restaurants as found in the Governor’s phony compromise bill. Such a change would promote massive fraud and tax evasion by bar and restaurant owners; and, The Commission determined that “the SLA is unable to make prevention of underage drinking a statewide priority” and noted that it has just 38 enforcement officials dealing with 70,000 license holders. -more-

“The Commission deserves praise for its efforts to keep the best interests of New Yorkers in mind and these efforts should not be ignored,” said Stefan Kalogridis, a coalition leader and

president of the New York State Liquor Store Association. “The Governor should heed the recommendations of his Commission rather than giving in to pressure from grocery stores to rubber stamp their bad idea. We know that legalizing the sale of wine in 19,000 new outlets would have a devastating impact on our businesses and generate little in the way of recurring revenue for the State.” According to an economic impact study completed for the industry prior to the collapse of the State’s economy, nearly 40 percent of the wine stores in the State would be forced out of business if the sale of wine were legalized in every deli, corner store, gas station, bodega and grocery store in New York. As a result, more than 4,500 people would be forced out of work in the worst economy the State has experienced in generations. Law enforcement agencies across the State, along with substance abuse experts, have opposed legalizing the sale of wine because they believe it will lead to an increase in underage drinking. New York State spends $3.2 billion annually to deal with the impact of underage drinking currently, according to the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. “The handful of law enforcement officials policing thousands of license holders is little more than a band-aid on a $3.2 billion problem. This idea is not only dangerous to our young people; it’s costly to New York taxpayers,” said Michael Correra, a coalition leader and executive director of the Metropolitan Package Store Association. “New York should be doing more to fight underage drinking and job loss. Governor Paterson’s proposal is one idea that should be tossed on the trash heap for good.” No State in more than 28 years has approved legislation legalizing the sale of wine in grocery stores, with Kentucky, Tennessee and Colorado joining New York in the last year in rejecting efforts by Big Box stores to take over this business. ###