Jonathan Newman, a failed political candidate with no apparent experience in the liquor industry, landed a politically inspired appointment to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board consequent to a family fortune sculpted from nose jobs performed for Philadelphia's well-heeled but poorly proboscissed (Dr. Julius Newman's cash also paved the route Newman's mother followed to a spot on the state Supreme Court). Young Newman then complained about "heavy-handed politics" at the Board while quitting consequent to a dispute over another political appointment.
As a PLCB member, Newman ignored the public interest -- and in particular did nothing about the emergence of Pittsburgh's South Side as a deadly, liquor-soaked cesspool -- because he was too busy "cultivating relationships and friendships" with liquor industry players, who rewarded him with a nice set-up in the wine business after Newman quit the PLCB. (Newman's wine industry friends had profited handsomely from misleading "discount" pricing practices, introduced by Newman, that probably would have generated a consumer fraud investigation had the scammer not been a government agency.)
Newman is back in the public eye, peddling the liquor store privatization program pushed by Rep. Mike Turzai. Reasonable arguments support closure of the Commonwealth's monopoly on wine and spirits sold by the bottle. They would be easier to swallow if the loudest voices in the debate so far -- Turzai, Newman, the Post-Gazette editorialists, hackneyed ideologues masquerading as experts, buggy whip peddlers -- were not so distasteful.
While awaiting a voice for the public interest to join the table, Pennsylvanians should stick with a glass of water, or perhaps have a beer.
(Speaking of taste, some wine fanciers seem unimpressed by Newman's nose for vintages.)
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