I didn’t sleep so well last night. After tossing
and turning while watching the clock remain
frozen on the same hour for about five hours,
I finally arose, a tad on the sour mood side.
As I stood and felt the blood in my head fail
to defy gravity and rush to my feet, I realized
I needed a special kick to improve my
surly demeanor: Crack cocaine. That created
a problem for me since I’ve never even seen
crack cocaine. I wouldn’t know crack cocaine
from a cracked manifold.
That’s right, I’m not a mechanic, either.
No matter, since there’s no way I’d opt in for
crack anyway. I was stuck. I was not feeling
so great, I wanted to feel better, and I for
damned sure didn’t want to get on a treadmill.
I had this weird sensation that I wanted
to both please and punish myself. On many
mornings, I can do that with a bowl of oatmeal
for pleasure while reading the morning
paper for punishment. But today’s Salt Lake
Tribune was at about midpoint underneath
one of our driveway cars so I shrugged off its
latest attempt at losing me as a reader and
punched up the Internet instead.
In just a few seconds, I quickly found
the perfect substitute for the crack cocaine
I wasn’t going to use and headed out to
the monthly Alcoholic Beverage Control
Commission regulatory meeting. I can’t
begin to tell you how many mind-numbing
experiences I’ve had during those
meetings. Therefore, I knew that was my
ticket to a better day, simply because, by
contrast, every minute after the meeting
would feel like a warm, candlelit bath. Not
even counting the incense.
Following standard agenda items, like
where a new liquor store may or may not
be located or a generic budget report, the
real drama begins when the liquor commission
decides the fate of liquor-license
applicants. Discard the physical blood bath,
replace it with a financial bloodletting, and
you’ll see the liquor-applicant process is not
far removed from Nero feeding Christians
to the lions. It’s uncomfortable watching
nervous applicants stand before the commission.
After everyone speaks, the liquor
commission breaks into an executive session
to vote on which businesses will live and
which will die.
Thumbs up, an applicant gets either a new license or can continue using his or her old one (if they’re there to explain an infraction). As if rehearsed, once a liquor applicant hears the good news, he or she bows their head, counts their blessings, mumbles a quiet “Thank you, commi s sioner s ,” and makes a beeline for the exit. Each marvels at his or her good fortune.
and that liquor
applicant also bows
his or her head,
wonders why the
them, considers if
the process is really
worth it, mumbles a quiet “Screw you, commissioners,”
and makes a snails pace for
the exit. It’s best for them to leave an empty
room, not wanting to be seen as a loser at
this very expensive game.
Today was no exception. Immediately
after the executive session, commissioner
Bobbie Coray began reading from a dusty
book of laws or regulations. She carefully
stated that the commission is charged with
assuring the state (which runs and profits
from its liquor monopoly) that applicants
winning licenses are sound business managers.
Everyone in the coliseum—er, hearing
room—knew what she was doing: She was
prepping the applicants from The Hotel in
downtown Salt Lake City for the kill.
Sure enough, upon finishing her reading
of the text, she quickly announced that
the commission was not impressed with the
applicants from The Hotel, but that they
would be welcome to return in a month to
try again. That’s what The Hotel was told last
month when it surrendered its license, and
new management was denied its application
for that license. Since then, scores of
employees have been out of work and the
state has lost additional tax and liquor revenues—
indeed, the state is down 9.2 percent
in club liquor-sales revenue from a year ago.
Run a club that way and it’s out of business.
Instead, Coray, straight-faced, announced
that the primary applicant for the Hotel
license, Bryan Borreson, had not passed the
commission sound-management sniff test.
Just an hour earlier, she listened to her own audit report that found a $687,000 error in the state’s favor (what’s that again about sound management, Bobbie?). Of all the applicants on this day, Borreson was the only applicant who provided documentation regarding his management skills in the form of letters, references and work histories. DABC compliance division testified that the financial issues that Borreson’s former employer may have had with the state and DABC were resolved. It’s all a canard.
For the next 30 days Borreson will be
wearing the dirty smudge laid on him today
by Bobbie Coray. I didn’t write one of those
letters for Borreson, though I know him, like
him and respect him. If there are bad managers
out there, he isn’t one of them.
The only hole in Borreson’s resume is the time he spent kicking for the Ute football team. If shanking field goals was the basis for Coray’s fictional “sound management” license-denial fairy tale, as a Ute fan, I could understand. But it isn’t. If the Utah liquor commission has an issue with The Hotel— and apparently it does, because now it will be closed for 60 days on a penalty it already submitted to—then it needs to give an official reason and leave the kicker out of it.