Liquor Control Board Panel Submits Review

“Governor Gary Locke has received recommendations from the Citizen Review Panel for reforms to policies and enforcement practices at the Liquor Control Board.Locke created the panel in August to provide an independent review of complaints against the LCB and suggestions on how to improve overall operations.“We found the agency going through a time of transition,” said Charles Earl, panel chair. “Our recommendations focus on clarity and consistency in the agency’s management and enforcement activities. We did not find problems that cannot be solved.Among the panel’s recommendations were proposals to streamline agency operations, clarify and update liquor laws and rules, ensure accountability and fairness in the employee complaint processes, beef-up training of enforcement officers and provide the agency with an administrative director to handle day-to-day functions.“I’m glad to see that the panel also supports appointing a director with the authority to manage the agency,” Locke said. “I think it’s very important to separate policy making from policy execution, but I also think the person in this important role should be directly appointed by the governor to ensure accountability for agency operations.”Locke asked for legislation in the 1999 legislative session to create an LCB Director and make the board a part-time rule-making and appeals body. In the meantime, he has asked the LCB to designate an administrative director using its rule-making authority.The 12 member Citizen Review Panel included a cross-section of members with backgrounds in law enforcement, regulated businesses, local government, labor, health and management.Apparently, no representatives from the music or entertainment industries were included in the review panel though there have been ongoing conflicts with LCB regulations pertaining to restrictions placed on those activities and businesses that include them as part of their operations.”