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Building a Legacy

Posted on  | February 19, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Outgoing Chairman Dennis Rosen looks back on six productive years at the New York SLA 

In conversation with William Slone and W. R. Tish (part 2)

In his six plus years heading up the New York State Liquor Authority, Chairman Dennis Rosen’s accomplishments are diverse. After covering boosted efficiencies and multi-sector growth last month, now we turn to his impact on communications, enforcement and what could be the next big thing for retailers.  


Two mechanisms we’ve been using more than in the past. One is the advisory. There’s an industry question that’s been troubling people; they need clarification to consider what they’ve been doing and what they need to do to update it. [Recent SLA advisories of note include close-outs, limited-availability products, combination packs and buy-backs. –Ed.] We also do more declaratory rulings—usually on a specific, fact-based issue. For example, ‘I have a software application, Drizly. I want to know if it’s accepted in New York.’ We have the industry meeting, people offer their opinions and then we say something. Advisories are more general, and with declaratory rulings, somebody’s come to us with a specific fact situation, but they may well involve issues that have an impact on other elements of the industry.


My feeling is that if you’re not hurting anyone and the statute doesn’t absolutely prohibit it, I want to allow it. I don’t want to make people’s lives more miserable As a regulator, I don’t want to add to anyone’s pile. When I get involved with the disciplinaries it is because in my view, somebody else is adding to another industry member’s pile, and now I have to do something.

The overall numbers [of violations] have been comparable, but we’re doing less petty cases. What I try to do with enforcement is to emphasize policy, and the biggest overall policy objective that’s expressed in our penalties is the level playing field. Where we see significant violations of that, we’ve taken very significant penalties. The idea isn’t to cripple a good business—the idea is to make a point. If it’s a major violation, where it goes to the heart of how the industry has to operate and it’s by a major player, I think it has to be significant. If somebody’s not mad at me, then I haven’t done my job with respect to that case.

The people I hear from, the ones who thank us are the little guys, the ones who don’t have lobbyists, don’t talk to politicians. They are the ones who thank us. That reminds me that we are doing the right thing.


I think what’s going to be a big issue to come—and what some people in the industry have been looking for clarity on through legislation, and that’s fine with me—is the Internet. That’s going to be the overriding issue. There are some Internet protocols that people have brought to us. Those are usually declaratory rulings. We’ve said “No” to some, but there’s some where we’ve said “Yes”. What we’ve come across sometimes is: Are there three tier violations?  We want to know that the licensee is actually the person who is making the decisions about what’s being sold, who it’s being sold to, that sort of thing.

This is Part 2 of our conversation with outgoing NYSLA Chairman Dennis Rosen. See February 2015 issue of Beverage Media or go to BeverageMedia.com for his comments on system streamlining, manufacturing and price posting. 


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