• Great moments in governance
New York State’s convoluted, outdated and otherwise embarassingly pathetic regulation of the sales of wine, beer and spirits continually serves up examples of things that need to be fixed.
The latest came in Henrietta, a suburb of Rochester, where the state says Mike Palmeri’s Marketview Liquor store committed an unforgiveable, unthinkable and inhuman act.
It sold wine gift bags.
Oh, the humanity!
Palmeri is allowed, as a duly licensed vassal of the Empire State government, to sell wine. And wine glasses. And wine bottle stoppers. And wine corkscrews. But, it is prohibited from selling a gift bag to put the stuff in. If you do that, Palmeri has learned, you’re in line for a $10,000 fine for running a second business! — according to the ludicrously inept State Liquor Authority.
He could, I theorize, have given the bags away and probably tacked an additional charge on some of the other items he’s allowed to sell as a way of making up the difference.
Palmeri told WSYR-TV he had no idea the law existed.
“I was incredulous, and I took everything down. I stopped doing it,” says Palmeri, a standup guy who says he doesn’t blame the state because “ignorance of the law is no excuse. It’s like saying you didn’t know what the speed limit was. I violated the statute. I think it’s pretty ridiculous, but the state needs money so they’re looking for every possible way of getting it.”
In an exchange of e-mails I had with Bill Crowley, the SLA’s director of communications, he noted that Palmeri has pled not guilty and is awaiting a hearing. And, he noted in a touch of judgment before the judgment, ” … $10,000 is the maximum fine for a violation of the ABC Law. There is no way this establishment would receive a fine anywhere near this, whether the charges hold up or not.”
Comforting. Of course, one hopes there would be no fine at all if the charges don’t hold up.