Good to see that the UPoR edit board and Tommy Tomlinson understand the gravity of the situation involving the local ABC board’s acceptance of lavish meals from liquor salesmen. But does the state of North Carolina?

As we pointed out yesterday, the state alcohol regulators have quite the can of worms they can open — or not — concerning liquor industry gifts to local boards. Past experience in this state and bureaucratic inertia say they do not open that can. Arguing for a can opener are the facts and tone of the ALE investigation into Ol’ Parks’ little booze bash.

If you’ve read enough of these kinds of reports, you can tell when the investigators are going through the motions, or are really ticked off. I think these ALE agents were really ticked off. They teased out the quite extraordinary fact that Diageo has an annual budget of $60,000 for such parties for local boards, Moreover, this line item can be replenished by Diageo’s market rep for the state. In other words, this is a $60,000 minimum budget for parties. The ALE investigator underscored this point by noting that the liquor company was blowing 20 percent of its yearly marketing budget on one party for one local board.

The implication was clear: We don’t have any idea how much is being spent on gifts to local boards by just this one liquor concern. The ALE agents are essentially challenging their bosses at the state commission to find out.

Let’s see if they are up to that challenge, even at risk of showing that the current system is in need of serious reform.

Bonus Observation: The state commission also a role to play in not mobilizing its staff to obstruct or wave off the Mecklenburg County Commission from removing the current leadership of its ABC board. You know that Ol’ Parks is working the phone lines to that end.