Thursday, July 03, 2014

Liquor Licenses

The demise of the Art Bar downtown is sad.  They violated liquor laws via the use of the club license.  It is sad to see the place go and it once again speaks volumes for another round of liquor license reform.

Get in your wayback machine and travel to the Liquor License reform of 1981.  I was then state liquor director under Governor Bruce King.  If you wanted a $50 state license you would have to pay up to $700,000 to some one who already had one to get it.  King appointed me to that job after his Organized Crime Commission said there was real danger in the system from criminals controlling the licenses.  The department itself was corrupt and inept.  We stirred the pot and started taking legal actions against the folks who were 'brown bagging' in restaurants in order to have a glass of wine with their dinner.  It brought the whole charade of a corrupt system into view after a few citizens and cafe owners were cited for breaking the law.

After a three year battle a reform was passed doing away with private ownership and trade in licenses after a ten year period.  Also a Beer and Wine license was created which has been a great success.  Ten years later Bruce King was again Governor and he signed a bill giving back private license status to the system.  It was the only really unethical thing I ever saw him do.

Now, the system has rapidly inflating license costs again and one example of how it hurts our economy is the Art Bar demise.  Some brave legislator needs to take on the liquor lobby once again, like Senator Les Houston did back in 1981.  


Realist said...

Reminds me of your Uber and Lyft post. I wonder what supply they’ll think of next to artificially inflate, driving up prices and creating more corruption. Maybe only friends of Susana should be allowed to issue car vehicle registrations, they could make a killing and generate tons of donations with that one. Maybe only existing coffee shop owners should be allowed to sell coffee – that might bring in some nice donations too. Pay-to-play isn’t just a New Mexico problem, but it’s certainly bad here.

Michelle Meaders said...

What does a license for a private club cost these days?

How much of the liquor agency stuff that forced the shutdown was malice and how much was incompetence? Or was it really the regulations they had to enforce and do so evenly?

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