By Jason Feulner, Finger Lakes Correspondent
Despite Syracuse's proximity to the Finger Lakes region, I have always found wine coverage in the local newspaper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, lacking (abysmal, actually). With this in mind, I was surprised to find an article recently in that same paper about the wine and grocery story controversy that went above and beyond in many respects. This piece, by Bob Niedt, investigates the money that went into the lobbying effort on both sides, at the same time juxtaposing the local perspective and efforts of wine shop owners in the Syracuse area.
Only a small portion of the details have come out so far, but it seems safe to say that hundreds of thousands of dollars on both sides were spent on lobbying in the last few months. Well-known grocery chains as well as independent liquor stores not only joined coalitions that paid for lobbying collectively, but also paid for lobbying directly.
What stinks about this situation, no matter which side you may happen to support, is that Albany's vote is for sale. The state is empowered by these controversies because we all feel the need to join the rat race and pump money into the corrupt system lest we miss out on a chance to peddle influence.
Albany save us! Albany please don't hurt us! Albany you are all powerful!
Is this really all about the wine industry, or consumers, or is it about which advocates will have the long-term ability to invest more and more into this lobbying effort? Independent liquor stores cannot remain so firmly united forever, and the larger grocery entities will continue to pour money into the system in order to justify their original investment.
Who do you think is going to win this one? My money is on the folks with the money.
Over time, the final answer to this question about wine and grocery stores will not be settled by what Albany feels is right, wrong, or even the will of the people. Instead, money will dictate the answer, and money will always trump all other considerations. Right now, the status quo has been maintained because Albany is still trying to figure out who has the better long-term prospects.