HC opposes privatized liquor sales

Published 12:32 pm Saturday, April 24, 2010

WINTON – Despite what has unfolded in other parts of the state, Clarence Jordan said proper procedures are in place in Hertford County regarding the operation of the local Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board.

Jordan, the newly hired General Manager of Hertford County ABC, also voiced his concerns over recent discussion statewide concerning the possibility of North Carolina moving away from state-controlled liquor sales, instead allowing private business to handle that retail venue.

All of his concerns, made public at the April 19 meeting of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, were sparked by news that surfaced last November where a liquor company picked-up a $9,000 dinner tab for members of the Mecklenburg County ABC Board. Then came the news from the New Hanover County ABC Board, one where a father and son, serving as the top administrators of that system, were paid in excess of $300,000 annually for their services plus bonuses.

That led North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue to send a directive to the 163 ABC Boards across the state, asking each to adopt tighter ethics rules and place a ban on accepting gifts.

The Hertford County ABC Board obliged that request.

At their meeting on April 9, the local Board adopted a resolution that basically says since the Board, the board manager and the employees of the ABC stores work on behalf of the public, they should not be permitted to accept any gifts or favors from business entities or individuals seeking to work with the local Board.

“The Hertford County ABC Board voluntarily prohibits its board members, board manager and employees from knowingly accepting a gift, favor or any other thing of value, directly or indirectly, from a person or business entity who the board member, board manager or employee know or has reason to know any of the following: (1) is doing or is seeking to do business of any kind with the Hertford County ABC Board; and (2) has a financial interest that may be substantially and materially affected by the performance or non-performance of the ABC Board member’s, manager’s or employee’s work for the public,” the resolution read.

In regards to privatizing liquor sales in the state, Jordan said he and the Board opposed that possibility.

“The ABC system works,” Jordan said. “But it does much more than sell liquor. It contributes to the overall budgets of Hertford County and each town in the county, whether or not there is an ABC store in that town.”

Jordan continued, “The ABC system contributes thousands of dollars each year to law enforcement and to alcohol rehabilitation programs. None of this will occur in a privatized system.”

Jordan stressed that the stores strictly enforce the age limit laws and will refuse the sale of alcohol to customers that appear intoxicated.

“I urge you to keep North Carolina as a beverage control state,” Jordan said in asking the commissioners to support a resolution that opposes privatization.

“Mr. Jordan is right,” said Commission Chairman Johnnie Ray Farmer. “If the sale of liquor is turned over to a private company, they keep the profits. Right now those profits come to the county and the towns in our county. That money helps us balance our budget.”

Commissioner Howard Hunter III motioned for approval of the resolution that supports the continuance of the current ABC system and opposes any efforts to privatize the system. The motion was approved without objection.