January 12, 2007
Jonathan Newman, a longtime member of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB)and its Chairman since 2002, abruptly resigned from his job on January 3. The resignation becomes effective today, January 12.
Newman, who received Wine Enthusiast’s prestigious Man of the Year award in 2003, said he quit over the way Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell chose a former state Senator, Joseph Conti, to be the LCB’s new CEO, a job that had gone unfilled for 20 years.
Rendell appointed Conti in the expectation that all three LCB members would vote to approve him. Although the Board’s other two members did, Newman refused, explaining to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper, “I was expected to rubber-stamp this position and I took issue with that.”
Newman added he had no objection to Conti personally. “It’s the process,” he said. “My protest is over the way it was done—in a heavy-handed, political manner.”
Newman also said he doesn’t believe the LCB needs a CEO, especially at an annual salary of $150,000, compared to Newman’s pay of $65,000.
Rendell’s press secretary, Kate Philips, defended her boss. “The fact is, if you look at $1.7 billion companies across the nation, you’ll see they all have CEOs. So it’s certainly not unheard of.” “Besides,” she added, “we discussed this with Jonathan more than a year ago, and he agreed the position was necessary. He wanted to be chairman/CEO, but the Governor was not interested in that.”
Conti’s family were prominent restaurateurs in Pennsylvania, and Conti sold his two restaurants in 1999. The Pennsylvania LCB is responsible for licensing the possession, sale, storage, transportation, importation and manufacture of wine, spirits and malt or brewed beverages in the commonwealth.
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