Wednesday, April 01, 2009


As we mentioned yesterday, the battle to allow grocery stores to sell wine is far from over. As Newsday reported: "With a proposal to allow wine sales in grocery and other stores officially shelved, backers and at least one state legislator say they stand ready to revive it through a compromise bill before the summer."

Doesn't mean that this is gonna be any kind of cake walk-not with the liquor store spigot gushing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the wining and dinner up at the state capitol; and with their phony Main Street facade blatantly lying to legislators and the public. Scott Osbourne from Fox Run Vineyards captures this in a letter he has sent to all legislators: "Unfortunately, I am afraid that the voices of our industry were ultimately drowned out by a big liquor campaign that never allowed the conversation to move to the critically important next step: Developing some sort of big picture compromise that could insure that liquor stores, grape growers, wine makers, and grocers alike could all survive and thrive in New York State."

But with a state budget that remains in free fall, a compromise could still be reached. As the NY Daily News opined: "The final disgrace is that Paterson, Silver and Smith acknowledge that tax collections are continuing to drop. The state will not be able to pay the bills the governor and lawmakers are committing to. In that sense the budget is worse than irresponsible, it's also a fraud."

Which means that, come June, we will be looking for love in all the wrong places-as shortfalls continue to challenge the revenuers. At that point, with as dry a well as you can imagine-should we find more folks to "sacrifice?"-that $160 million in wine fees are going to look mighty darn good. As Newsday pointed out: "Jennifer Carlson, a consultant to grocery chains that pushed for Paterson's proposal, said given budget shortfalls, "We think legislators are going to be coming back to find more money," which the original proposal addressed by raising $160 million in new licensing fees."

With the Albany Easter Egg Hunt pushed into summer, the speaker will be harder pressed to justify keeping his thumb on the scale-in broad daylight this kind of special pleading is more challenging. But it's up to the editorial boards and the good government groups to step up as well; especially for a proposal that will help local supermarkets and be a huge boon to the state's wine growers and consumers.