Many people who have are in the know fear the enforcement end of private sales of booze.  Liquor stores are known to be rife with crime issues, including organized crime.  See what some Virginia law enforcement officers have to say about privatizing the ABC Stores.  McDonnell really needs to get off this campaign promise.  He is being a naive Nelly.  It isn’t good for Virginia.  The true conservative stand on selling the liquor stores is to tell McDonnell NO. 

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

Ashland, Va. —

Ashland is a college town with one state-owned store for selling liquor.

Police Chief Douglas A. Goodman Jr. knows that probably would change if the Virginia General Assembly agrees to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposal to give up the state’s 76-year-old monopoly on the liquor business.

“There’s no doubt there would be an increase in outlets,” Goodman said. “I’m not aware of what the number is going to be.”

That’s a big question for local law-enforcement officials, who met with key members of the governor’s staff last week for a briefing on concerns about the potential effects of privatizing the liquor business on the communities they police.

Instead of 334 state-owned stores spaced across Virginia, local law-enforcement officials are uneasy about the prospect of 800 to 1,000 private liquor retailers, many of them concentrated in areas of high demand, trying to boost sales of spirits in a state where liquor consumption is relatively low.


“They want to increase consumption,” Dana G. Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said of private liquor interests. “I hope an increase in consumption doesn’t mean an increase in alcohol-related violations.”

Local law-enforcement officials are pleased with the audience they have had with the governor’s staff to air their concerns. They are happy that McDonnell wants to leave enforcement of alcohol laws at the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and that localities will have a strong say in the licensing and siting of outlets for booze.

“It is a good sign, a very good sign,” said Mark Flynn, director of legal services at the Virginia Municipal League, which met with the governor’s staff along with the Virginia Association of Counties.

Law-enforcement officials are especially happy that the governor is not pushing a privatization proposal that potentially would have issued licenses to thousands of businesses that sell wine and beer off premises.

“It’s not going to be exponential,” said Goodman, who oversees a staff of 24 police officers for a town of 8,000 people, including students at Randolph-Macon College.

. . .

But local concerns about the effects of privatization on law enforcement go back to one thing — money. They fear that Virginia will not spend the money necessary to expand ABC’s enforcement division, which has lost one-third of its sworn field agents in eight years.

“We’re lean in enforcement,” acknowledged W. Curtis Coleburn III, chief operating officer at ABC.

ABC’s enforcement division took a 20 percent budget cut in fiscal year 2003. Since then, the division’s number of sworn field agents has fallen from 124 to 83. Sixteen positions are unfilled because of the state’s economic woes, though the state is currently hiring to fill half of them.

“We have to beef up the number of agents out there,” said Eric Finkbeiner, senior policy adviser to the governor and point man for privatization.

Finkbeiner said the administration expects license fees for wholesale and retail distributors to generate revenue, along with taxes from increased sales, especially in Northern Virginia. The money would be used to enhance enforcement across the state.

Localities also would benefit from local licensing taxes, as well as their share of the state sales tax that would be generated, he said.

McDonnell already has tried to allay concern that the state would lose revenue — $231 million in profits and excise taxes in the last fiscal year — by giving up its wholesale and retail monopoly. That’s a big concern among law-enforcement officials, who have seen their state funding dwindle.

“We’re going to make sure that the revenue doesn’t decrease,” said John W. Jones, executive director of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association.

Local government already has lost its share of ABC profits — two-thirds under state law, but progressively less in state budgets over the years — because the state now keeps all of the proceeds for the general fund.

The McDonnell administration has pledged to propose a privatization model that guarantees the state the same revenues it receives through ABC — keeping the current wholesale markup on liquor and the state excise tax proceeds. The administration acknowledges that, as a result, prices won’t drop much.

A state-funded study completed 17 years ago concluded that prices on liquor would have to increase for partial or full privatization to be revenue neutral for the state. The 1993 study by Pricewaterhouse Consulting also estimated that the state would have to add up to 46 special agents to handle licensing, regulation and enforcement of alcohol sales in a privatized industry.

The study further estimated that the state would have to add 16 people in the ABC accounting division to ensure the full collection of state taxes, which Virginia now adds to the marked cost of spirits that pass through its central warehouse in Richmond on their way to state-owned retail stores.

“My concern is there will not be adequate resources given to ABC to properly take the additional workload this will create,” said Robert E. Colvin, an ABC commissioner from 1990 to 1994 under then-Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.

Supporters of privatization say enforcement won’t change much in Virginia under the governor’s plan.

“They don’t control the delivery and sale [of liquor] but, as they do with beer, they regulate the delivery and sales,” said Theodore F. “Trey” Adams III, a Richmond attorney who represents retailers at ABC.

Adams also represents a wine wholesaler who is interested in the liquor business. He said many retailers and wholesalers would simply expand to include liquor.

“It’s not like it’s going to be 800 new buildings selling liquor,” he said.


We don’t need additional crime in Virginia. There is enough associated with the beer and wine distributors (and if you think there isn’t, don’t kid yourself.)

Once this is done, it cannot be undone. I certainly hope every legislator in Virginia will take the conservative position on selling our ABC stores and will just say NO. 76 years of profit and tradition must stand for something. Long time Virginians are very concerned and do not want to see their state screwed up by people just calling themselves conservative.

11 Thoughts to “Law Enforcement Nixes Privatization of Liquor Stores”

  1. There’s nothing “conservative” about socialism. And when the government is the monopoly owner of the wholesale and retail trade in any product or service, that’s socialism, pure and simple.

  2. PWC Taxpayer

    Nixes it? The article itself suggests that law enforcment is pleased by the Governor’ approach. Done Deal!

    Principles in government matter. State and federal agencies can and should provide minimum levels of oversight, but they no more need to be in the liquor businss as in the gasoline, food, pharmacy, child care, vehicle maintenance or window washing business — all of which it could be argued could generate profits for transfer to the general fund.

  3. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    This is where everybody comes to find out the “conservative” stands on the issues.

  4. PWC Taxpayer

    Socialism: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism.

    Its that transitional part that really scares me along with the totalitarianism that historically has always accompanied that transition. It is not even a slippery slope – its a cliff.

  5. marinm

    I got that too.. That law enforcement isn’t down on the idea they just want ABC to be staffed at a level to enforce existing laws. City governments want to make sure they can have control of zoning where these establishments will go and everyone is talking about the piece of the revenue pie they expect to get.

    Sounds a lot like the comments I’ve made previously about this subject and I’m just an ordinary citizen.

  6. TP. not really. Go back and re-read. It also has to go through the General Assembly.

    I find those of you who feel Virginia is a socialist state to be extremely offensive. You are sweeping up NC, West VA, Utah, Alabama, Pennsylvania, etc in your name-calling. I expect those states and their native residents would be highly offended.

    Meanwhile, perhaps those of you who like your booze mixed in with a little crime need to go back to those states and leave Virginia the way it is–and has been for 76 years.

  7. TP, if tradition doesn’t get you, how about money? You want to pay extra taxes to make up for the loss of revenue? I sure don’t.

  8. Virginia is not a socialist state. The state control of the liquor stores is a socialist program by the definition that it is state controlled. If you find socialism offensive, then support privatization.

  9. PWC Taxpayer


    Excuse me, as I explained in another post, the ABC is a taxing agent – with the steepest and most regressive tax in the State. As an advocate of the poor, I thought you would find this horrible. Its a hidden tax and that should offend you too. Any shortfalls can and should be made up by other means. I still beleive that privatization will ultimatley generate a net increase to local and state coffers.

  10. No. I will never support privatization of the ABC stores. It is the way it is for a reason.

    I find the term ‘socialist’ offensive and it is horribly over-used. @Cargo

    TP, I am not an advocate of the poor. You are simply being a jerk once again You know nothing about me and you are assuming from your narrow, limited political point of view.

    why are you saying ‘excuse me?’

    I am all for the state taxing liquor, beer, wine. It isn’t something people need to have.

    You believe privatization will produce a net increase in the coffers? There’s ridiculous logic if I ever heard it. That makes as much sense as thinking my house will generate rent after I sell it.

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