• So speed ’em up, Joe

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I live in an Upstate New York city just across the Hudson River from the State Capital. Thus, I get to hear and read about a lot more stupid government inactions actions than many people in other parts of the state.

The most recent deals with the decision by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to reject an application for a liquor license by some local businesspeople seeking to open a wine/martini bar.

The reason: It is within 200 feet of a church, which automatically negates its request.

The problem: It is not within 200 feet of a church.

It is located across the street from a Salvation Army facility that most of the week is a food pantry. It holds one religious service once a week. But then, so does an entertainment venue on the same block, and no one is calling it a church.

Also, at least five other establishments on the same block hold valid state liquor or beer/wine licenses, and have for years despite the presence of the Salvation Army.

It took six months for the SLA to come up with this rejection. The right or wrong of it is obvious can be debated from various angles. What troubles me most is the excuse the SLA uses for its snail-like pace in considering license applications statewide.

During the period of months and, in some cases, years the applicants are waiting, they usually are putting time, effort and money into their facilities. A quick “No” by the SLA can dash all those hopes and lay waste to the money involved.

William Crowley, the SLA mouthpiece spokesman, says the agency has only 22 examiners divided among offices in Buffalo, Albany and New York City. They are responsible for reviewing all license applications. Crowley says the SLA received 5,315 applications between July 1, 2008, and July 1 of this year. The examiners also had to consider an estimated 7,000 applications for short-term permits, most of which are for caterers who, under state law, need a license just to serve for as little as an hour, one time. Thus, says Crowley, they can’t keep up with the workload.

Really? Let us, as they say, do the math.

• 5,315 applications received in one year
• 22 examiners
• 260 calendar work days in one year
That comes out to 242 applications per year per examiner, assuming a five-day work week. If we discount 15 days per examiner for vacations and stray holidays, that comes to about one application to be handled per day.

Doesn’t seem to be much of a workload, does it?

Now let’s look at the one-time applications.

• 7,000 applications received in one year
• 245 calendar days worked by each of 22 examiners
• That comes to 318 per examiner per year, or 1.3 applications per day.

Add it up, and we get 2.3 applications to be handled per day.

Whew! I bet those examiners are laughing their asses off have to lean back and uncap a cold one after maintaining such a blistering pace.


About Bill Dowd

Webmaster/social media coordinator for the Southern Rensselaer County NY Rotary Club.

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