The liquor and marijuana industries had better fight for their lives against this latest proposal by the Dunleavy administration to remove their regulatory boards and put that power in the hands of the commissioner in the Commerce Department.
To suggest this is being done to save the state money is disingenuous. The present boards’ expenses are more than offset by revenue raised from license fees. The move will amount to nothing more than a giant bureaucratic power grab.
There is, and has been maintained by hard-fought legislative efforts from all sides over many years, a delicate balance of power on the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, of which I have been chairman on two different occasions. Such a balance is a necessity for having a properly regulated industry that is at the same time allowed to operate in a hospitable and profitable environment. History shows that when you do not have a healthy industry with licensed, responsible licensees, bad things happen.
When the industry was placed under the Department of Law by the Murkowski administration, that was bad enough. No legal industry should be overseen and regulated by the cops, but, at 76 years of age, I am one of the few around who can remember when the director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, Claude Millsap, had a vote on the board. Director Millsap is credited with starting the first Alcoholics Anonymous club in Juneau, hardly an unbiased recommendation for the position. That fifth vote gave him the swing vote on the board. I mean no disrespect to a man who recently passed away, but he was, in fact, simply a tyrant.
I am retired and no longer in the industry, but my ex-employees continue to operate Chilkoot Charlie’s and I fear for their welfare. Giving regulatory power to a commissioner with an enforcement staff and no board to answer to is a nightmare scenario if I ever dreamed of one.
Mike Gordon, now retired, is the former owner of Chilkoot Charlie’s.
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