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Rare & Refreshing: NYSLSA Chairman Meets with Retailers Alliance

Posted on  | February 26, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On January 31st, the Retailers Alliance welcomed New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) Chairman Dennis Rosen as a guest at an association meeting. Arranged by Retailers Alliance President Jeff Saunders, this was the first time that a meeting like this had ever taken place. With nearly the full membership in attendance, the Chairman spoke briefly and then fielded questions. His candor was clearly appreciated by every retailer in the room, and this was one of the most productive and informative meetings of the Alliance in recent memory.

As background, when Dennis Rosen was appointed Chairman of the NYSLA three years ago, he immediately identified three central issues to improve on:

1. The Authority was backlogged with approximately 3,100 applications to be reviewed; currently, there are only 200 unreviewed applications and the waiting period has been reduced from 1.5 years to approximately four or five months.

2. The Authority had a major problem being able to enforce their rules and laws; Mr. Rosen said he wanted the SLA to “get out of the minutia of the day-today operations of licensees,” allowing the SLA to focus on larger matters.

3. There was a public perception of corruption and favoritism within the Authority, as well as of misuse of state vehicles; under Chairman Rosen, there have been zero reports of corruption and the public perception has greatly improved.

Here is a summary of some of the other relevant topics discussed:

  • Mr. Rosen established a lock box with a national bank; all payments (checks for permit applications, for example) are collected and documented by the bank, freeing up the Authority to focus on more important matters.
  • Mr. Rosen has separated examiners from attorneys. This entire process has been moved up to Albany, and attorneys can only see examiners by appointment only.
  • Almost all other processes have been centralized in Albany. Before, three people were responsible for handling 30,000 renewal applications. Today, thanks to cross-training of many employees, permits, renewals and new applications are processed much more efficiently and backlog is minimal.
  • Administrative authority now sits with the Chairman. Previously, every single decision had to be made by an entire board, which was very time-consuming and would often result in a stalemate at the Board level. Today, their hands are no longer tied.
  • Mr. Rosen’s team is instituting an e-licensing project; soon, applications and renewals will be a 100% electronic process.
  • Price posting is now being handled by Beverage Media, freeing up more resources at the Authority; the process is significantly more efficient than ever, both for retailers and for the enforcement bureau.
  • Prior to Mr. Rosen’s arrival, the NYSLA was a “dispirited organization,” but he changed the corporate culture. He views and runs the SLA as a business, emphasizing efficiency and accountability. Annual employee evaluations are now conducted, something Mr. Rosen brought over from his work at the Attorney General’s office.

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