Friday, October 29, 2010

Should the ABC Board Resign?

"The former general manager of the Greensboro ABC system erased surveillance videos, shredded documents, hid files and hectored employees to cover for her as a state investigation focused on her conduct, a private investigator working for the local board found.

How long did the ABC board know what was going on?

Were any board members involved?

If none of the board members were involved,
and the behavior was an historical norm,
and considering Skip Alston is a former ABC board Chairman
who gave a former ABC manager a car with taxpayer money,
could the board be considered negligent,
and accused of not acting in the best interests of Greensboro?

The five-member board that oversees the 16-store liquor monopoly fired Katie Alley last week after reviewing the executive summary of a report by U.S. ISS Agency.

“ISS also found a pattern of deception and untruthfulness by Ms. Alley that complicated and prolonged the investigation,” the report says. “In addition, she used her position to cause other employees to become involved in acts that were inappropriate. While any of the allegations by themselves may not be significant, they show a pattern of petty corruption.”

...Jeff Gray, Alley’s lawyer, has repeatedly said his client denies many of the allegations in both the local board’s report as well as a pair of reports conducted by Alcohol Law Enforcement Agents at the behest of the state ABC Commission.

...“(O)ffice employees described Ms. Alley as becoming increasingly secretive as the ALE investigation progressed. In early February, 2010, employees in the GABC office noticed Ms. Alley spent several days in her office shredding documents,” says the report.

...Gray said Alley also denies other incidents described in the ISS report, such as one in which she and another board employee are described as erasing surveillance tapes.

...But as to other incidents, such as soliciting sporting event tickets, meals, travel accommodations and liquor from companies with which the Greensboro ABC Board does business, the two sets of reports document similar patterns of behavior.

If it's wrong for the ABC manager to accept free tickets,
why is it OK for Greensboro City Council Members?

...As general manager, Alley had the power to determine what liquor was sold throughout Greensboro and led one of the most profitable systems in the state. She reported to a five-member board whose members, until July, made public statements in support of Alley as state ALE agents conducted their investigation and released an initial report.

“We deal with policies,” said board Chairman Jesse “Skip” Warren. “There was nothing that was given to us through our audits or otherwise that something had gone bad ... if there had been, we would have done something about it.”

If board Chairman Warren didn't know, didn't want to know
or did know but did not act,
what should be the consequences?

Gray said that some of the activities construed as attempts by Alley to deceive the board were things board members knew about.

For example, the ISS report details the fact Alley regularly attended industry events and brought a guest. The Greensboro ABC Board paid the registration fee for those guests — sometimes her mother or a friend. Board members reimbursed the agency for such guests, but Alley never did.

So the ABC board knew and did nothing until caught?

...Gray said that Alley had explicit permission from board members who hired her to have the Greensboro ABC pay for such registrations. Gray forwarded an electronic image of a typewritten letter dated Feb. 24, 2003, signed by former board members Barney Brown and Owen Lewis.

“The Board shall pay the registration fee for you and a guest,” the letter says in reference to “travel to business outside the city limits.”

If the board approved unethical behavior,
who should be held responsible?

...In order for Alley’s version of events to be true, many of the people quoted by ISS and state ALE agents must be lying."

Mark Binker


Don Moore said...

The board was not more responsible for the ABC operations than the War Memorial Coliseum committee responsible for the coliseum. Most boards are rubber stamps. It's the same reason that Wall Street tanked.

Anonymous said...

Its plum stupid to take free gifts while making $118,000 a year salary, George. This is nothing but pure greed, stupid greed.

George Hartzman said...

Maybe it's not about stupid, but about what everyone thought was acceptable at the time.

If the board thought what she was doing was OK when she did it, then there wasn't anything wrong with it at the time to them, even though anyone with any scrupels thought otherwize.

Same thing happened in my business at the turn of the century.

It is my understanding that the new ethics rules on this stuff were passed after the actual events took place.

As far as I know, this kind of back scratching behavior is still the norm for Greensboro City Council and County Commissioners.

How can it suddenly be unethical for one, and not all?

George Hartzman said...

The cover up sealed the deal, not the initial events.

Anonymous said...

It's not what she did, but how she tried to cover it up. She must have known it was wrong or why did she try to cover her rear end?

George Hartzman said...

Good Point. What wasn't found? Therefore, what don't we know? What was on the surveilance tapes?

Still, sounds like the board knew about most of this or should have.