This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
After numerous reviews, audits, reviews of audits and audits of reviews dissecting the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, there remains precious little evidence that the relevant officials are about to wake up and smell the mimosas.
Some small progress is seen, though, in a new report issued this week by Gov. Gary Herbert's Office of Management and Budget.
The recommendation to be included in Herbert's proposed 2015-2016 state budget is that the Legislature restore the $500,000 that was cut from the DABC's operations earlier this year.
The money would go to hiring more front-line workers, paying them more and giving the many part-time employees more hours. All of which is intended to show those people more respect and hopefully engender more productivity and loyalty.
Treating DABC employees as if they were slimy drug dealers who don't deserve to make a decent living or be treated with respect is both needlessly cruel to the workers and foolishly harmful to customers.
The state's monopoly of the booze biz is justified, in logical as well as theological terms, by the fact that a state-owned system can satisfy a healthy human desire for a bit of alcohol without crossing the line to promoting it. No advertising. No price wars. No glittering signs, bikini models or tractor pulls. No pressure to sell to minors or enable alcoholics.
But that doesn't mean the stores cannot, or should not, be warm and inviting places for both their employees and their legal customers. Adults who want to act as adults, be treated as adults and responsibly enjoy one of the pleasures of being adults.
So far, there's no talk of hiring more store managers, even though the system needs them. But managers may win more autonomy in selecting their stock, based on their own expertise and interaction with their customers. That is a quiet, and welcome, admission that the much-vaunted computerized ordering system installed earlier this year, widely criticized for allowing stores to run out of popular selections, has not been such a success after all.
Every one of the many millions of dollars the DABC's monopoly chain of liquor stores rakes in each year goes right into the state budget, while the system and its employees stand by and wait for the Legislature to decide how much of that money goes back into operations. The idea of putting more of that money back into the stores and distribution system is the least the very least the state could do to operate a liquor system worthy of its people.