Illinois: Bill toughening oversight of wine shipping in Illinois signed into law 

Friday, September 02, 2016 8:38:00 AM

Source: Chicago Tribune


Greg Trotter


August 26, 2016




Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law Friday that toughens oversight and enforcement of shipping wine into Illinois and transporting alcohol across state lines.




It's a win for Illinois alcohol wholesalers who lobbied for the passage of Senate Bill 2989, sponsored by state Sen. James Clayborne, D-East Saint Louis. The bill enhances penalties on those illegally shipping or transporting alcohol into the state. It also raises licensing fees across the board for manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, and establishes more of an audit process for booze coming into the state.




But the bill had detractors, too, particularly from residents who purchased hard-to-find wine from out-of-state retailers. An online petition calling on Rauner to veto the bill garnered more than 1,500 supporters. Retailers aren't permitted to ship into Illinois, though some still do, but wineries are allowed to do so if licensed with the state. Now, retailers who take the risk could face felony charges.




Representatives of Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois, a trade group funded by the state's two largest wholesalers, Breakthru Beverage Group and Southern Wine & Spirits, have said the bill will bring in more revenue that will help the state's oversight of bootleggers and "bad actors" of e-commerce.




"(The bill) protects the health and safety of Illinois consumers by promoting compliance with state law. It also gives the Illinois Liquor Control Commission the resources it needs to prevent out-of-state suppliers from taking advantage of a loophole that allowed them to direct ship wine into Illinois without paying taxes," said Karin Lijana Matura, executive director of Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois, in a statement Friday.




Some opponents of the bill argued the opposite. By prohibiting out-of-state retailers from shipping into Illinois, the state is missing out on "millions of dollars" in tax revenue and licensing fees, said Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers, in an interview earlier this week.




Fourteen states currently allow out-of-state retailers to ship to their residents, said Wark, who said he expected the matter to eventually be settled in the courts.

ois: Bill toughening oversight of wine shipping in Illinois signed into law


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5 reasons restaurant growth will continue 

Monday, August 29, 2016 5:33:00 AM


August 24, 2016

Concerns of a "restaurant recession" are largely misplaced, and industry growth will likely continue in the months ahead, according to the NRA's Chief Economist Bruce Grindy.  His Economist's Notebook commentary and analysis appears regularly on and Restaurant TrendMapper.

Recent concerns of a "restaurant recession" are largely misplaced.  Just as economists wouldn't say the overall economy was in a recession if just a few sectors were struggling, the same shouldn't be said about the restaurant industry based on the results of a handful of companies.

While same-store sales and customer traffic trends were certainly a mixed bag in recent months, that doesn't paint a complete picture on the health of the overall restaurant industry.  A better performance metric is total restaurant industry sales, which includes both existing restaurant sales as well as sales at new restaurants that enter the market.  By this measure, the restaurant industry remains on a positive trajectory.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, total eating and drinking place sales were up 6.0 percent on year-to-date basis through July 2016.  Adjusting for menu-price inflation, sales were up about 3.3 percent during the first seven months of the year.  This real growth rate is right in line with the average annual gains registered during the last five years, which suggests the restaurant industry expansion is maintaining its post-recession track.

That's not to say that consumers aren't somewhat unsettled, and a chunk of that uncertainly could likely be traced to the vitriol coming from the U.S. presidential campaign.  In fact, 31 percent of adults say they have become less confident about their personal spending as a result of the presidential campaign during the last few months, according to a new national survey conducted August 18-21 by ORC International for the National Restaurant Association.  Fourteen percent say they are more confident, while 55 percent say it hasn't impacted their personal spending.

However, thanks to the resilient American consumer, the overall restaurant industry is growing.  Here are five reasons why the expansion will continue in the months ahead: [click on charts to enlarge]

1. Labor Market Remains Healthy

The number-one driver of restaurant sales is a healthy labor market.  When people are employed, they have both the income to support spending as well as the daily need for the convenient food and beverage options that the restaurant industry provides.

While the current economic expansion has generally lacked explosiveness, it has been remarkably consistent, with gains of at least 2.1 million jobs each year since the end of the Great Recession.  Job growth is on a similar pace in 2016, including the addition of more than a half-million jobs during the last two months alone.

The restaurant industry has never contracted without a corresponding decline in the labor market, and there are currently no indications that job losses are on the horizon.

2. Wage Growth is Picking Up

Although wage growth has been noticeably stagnant during the current expansion, there are signs that it is finally starting to pick up.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average hourly earnings for all private sector employees rose 2.6 percent between July 2015 and July 2016.  This matched the strongest 12-month wage growth during the economic recovery, though it was still below the mid-three-percent gains posted before the recession.

Other factors should lead to stronger wage growth in the months ahead.  As the economy moves toward full employment and the jobless rate drops, businesses typically have to compete harder for talent in a shrinking labor pool.

A healthy labor market also gives workers the confidence and ability to leave one job for a higher paying job somewhere else.  According to BLS data, an average of 2.3 percent of private sector workers quit their jobs each month during the first half of 2016.  This represented the highest half-year quit rate since 2007.

If wages continue to rise and inflation remains modest as expected, consumers will have more disposable income to support additional discretionary spending.

3. Households Have Some Breathing Room

Household debt is rising steadily.  Total revolving credit balances are approaching $1 trillion for the first time since 2008, according to data from the Federal Reserve.  However, a key difference between now and eight years ago is the fact that households are much more equipped to handle this level of debt.

The Federal Reserve's Financial Obligations Ratio, which is the ratio of total required household debt payments (plus rent on primary residences, auto lease payments, insurance and property tax payments) to total disposable income, is nearly three points below 2008 levels and hovering near an all-time record low.

Households are also building up a financial cushion, with savings rates in recent months roughly double what they were just prior to the Great Recession.  Consumers also continue to benefit from relatively low gas prices, as well as grocery store prices that are on pace to decline for the first time since 1967.  These all put additional disposable income in the pockets of consumers.

Many consumers are also benefiting from rising wealth, which has a positive impact on spending.  House prices are trending higher, and all three major U.S. stock indices have closed at record highs during August.

4. Pent-up Demand Remains Elevated

Although overall sales are trending higher, consumers have yet to get their fill of restaurants.  According to a national survey conducted in April 2016 by ORC International for the National Restaurant Association, 45 percent of adults say they are not eating on the premises of restaurants as frequently as they would like.  Similarly, 46 percent of consumers say they are not purchasing take-out or delivery as often as they would like.

Not surprisingly, pent-up demand is higher among lower-income households, as six in 10 consumers in households with income below $35,000 say they would like to be using restaurants more frequently.  However, fully one in four adults living in households with income above $100,000 also say they are not patronizing restaurants as often as they would like.

As households with income above $100,000 are responsible for four in 10 dollars spent in restaurants, any degree of unfulfilled demand is an encouraging sign for the industry in the months ahead.

While there is always some degree of unfulfilled demand for restaurants, the current levels are well above historical norms.  In the mid-2000s, only about one in four adults said they weren't eating at restaurants as often as they would like - or just over half of the level that exists today.

5. Consumers Crave Experiences

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, consumers became very selective in their spending habits, which resulted in some sectors doing much better than others.  One of the reasons why the restaurant industry held up relatively well during a challenging economic environment has been a shift in consumers' spending habits toward experiences.

When given the choice of how they would spend an additional $100 if they had it, more than four in 10 adults say they would spend it on an experience such as a restaurant or other activity.  Fifty-eight percent say they would be more likely to purchase an item from a store.

Among consumers in households with income above $75,000, one-half say they would be more likely to spend their extra $100 on an experience.

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National Association Of Wine Retailers Asks Illinois Gov. Rauner Not To Make Felons Of Its Members  

Monday, August 29, 2016 5:31:00 AM

Source: Forbes

Thomas Pellechia

August 15, 2016


Under its banner, Free the Grapes, ShipCompliant recently reported that over $2 billion in wine was shipped direct (DTC) from wineries to consumers in 2015, a figure that represents roughly eight percent of the overall U.S. wine market-DTC sales from wineries are expected to continue to rise.


What would the numbers be if retailers across the country and on the Internet had the same DTC access that wineries have?


According to Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR), the value of wine shipped directly to consumers from wine retailers is unknown, "Yet, we can say with great confidence that the concerted effort by wine distributors, wineries and some retailers to stamp out interstate commerce in wine by retailers has cost the wine industry in America billions of dollars."


DTC fermented in skirmishes for many years, then the issue culminated in 2005 when the Supreme Court ruled it is unconstitutional for a state to allow in-state wine producers direct access to in-state residents while denying direct access to out-of-state wine producers. The court told the states either allow direct shipping access to all wine producers or allow access to none. Hence, forty-four and not fifty states allow DTC.


The 2005 decision was narrow, applying only to wine producers. Until NAWR or some other organization or individual is successful at bringing the issue to the Supreme Court, the states enjoy carte blanche rule-making when it comes to DTC access to out-of-state and Internet retailers-fourteen states allow access, mostly with severe restrictions and extra fees on retailers.


Mr. Wark paints a strange picture that has emerged over this issue:


"Interestingly, wineries and importers have done little or nothing to push for laws allowing retailer to consumer shipping . In fact, winery associations such as the California Wine Institute and even consumer wine organizations like Free the Grapes have quickly given their consent when laws introduced allowing out-of-state shipments from both wineries and retailers are amended at the behest of wholesalers to strip retailer shipping out of the bill. It's as though wineries and importers think they are in competition with retailers when in fact retailers are wineries' and importers' best supporters. This makes wineries complicit in the billion dollar boondoggle that are restrictive retailer shipping laws."

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A Tattoo That Knows When You're Drunk (Additional Coverage) 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 4:36:00 PM


Daniel Akst

Aug. 11, 2016


Sometimes, after a few drinks, people get a tattoo. Now there's a tattoo that can tell if you've had a few drinks. Best of all, it's temporary.


Researchers at the Center for Wearable Sensors at the University of California, San Diego, have come up with a removable electronic tattoo that can sense your blood-alcohol level from the sweat on your skin and then send this information via Bluetooth to a smartphone or car computer.


The UCSD device is part of a boom in wearable sensors of all kinds-a surge enabled by the rise of smartphones, which can keep track of the data these sensors produce.


Scientists have been particularly interested in alcohol monitoring. Breathalyzer devices don't offer continual monitoring, and their results can be skewed by mouthwash, for example, or alcohol residue in saliva. Wearable devices that passively detect alcohol in sweat from the user's skin-which are sometimes mandated by judges and have been known to crop up in embarrassing photos of celebrities-can offer continuous monitoring, but the gadgets tend to be bulky and expensive.


In May, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (part of the National Institutes of Health) announced the winner of its Wearable Alcohol Biosensor Challenge, which it launched in 2015 to promote innovation. The first prize, of $200,000, was awarded to a bracelet-type device made by San Francisco-based firm called BACtrack, a pioneer of consumer-oriented breathalyzers, some of which already work with smartphones.


BACtrack's founder and chief executive officer, Keith Nothacker, says that the firm is working on algorithms to derive accurate blood-alcohol results from ethanol detected on the skin. But for many users, he noted, the main question will be whether there is any sign of alcohol use at all. A positive result could be communicated to a spouse, sobriety mentor or probation officer, for example, since the device can relay its findings to a smartphone via Bluetooth. Mr. Nothacker says that he hopes to distribute prototypes of the BACtrack Skyn-the prize-winning sensor-in the months ahead and then bring it to market for around $99, eventually offering a version that serves as a band for the Apple Watch.


The Skyn relies on "insensible" sweat, or trace amounts that you don't even know you have. In an effort to get fast, accurate results with a one-time test while avoiding the pitfalls of breathalyzers, the UCSD device goes another route: It contains a small amount of pilocarpine, a medication normally used to treat dry mouth and other health problems. Applied topically, the drug induces a little sweat where the device's electrodes can use it, letting the sensor get results in about 15 minutes.


The UCSD tattoo is attached to a flexible, inch-long circuit board for processing and relaying data. But Joseph Wang, one of the project scientists, says that the reusable board could probably be made much smaller with some additional engineering. He adds that the disposable tattoos cost just pennies to produce, and his lab is working on a version that works all day.


Cheap, reliable alcohol monitoring through the skin could have a variety of applications. Computers in cars could lock the ignition if they detected a reading above a worrisome threshold, especially if a motorist has had a drunken-driving conviction. Bartenders could use the sensors to tell when it's time to cut off a customer. Or for people concerned about their own drinking, wearing the monitoring device could offer passive intake recording that is probably more accurate than memory-and not subject to fudging.


"Noninvasive Alcohol Monitoring Using a Wearable Tattoo-based Iontophoretic-Biosensing System," Jayoung Kim, Itthipon Jeerapan, Somayeh Imani, Thomas N. Cho, Amay Jairaj Bandodkar, Stefano Cinti, Patrick P. Mercier and Joseph Wang, ACS Sensors (July 12)

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Booze, not Blackhawks, built Wirtz wealth; grandson helps lead evolving firm 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 4:34:00 PM

Source: Chicago Tribune

Greg Trotter

August 10, 2016


Little known fact: Before the Bulls and Blackhawks achieved United Center glory, Danny Wirtz and the Loyola Academy Ramblers won the state hockey championship there in 1995, just a year after the facility co-owned by the Wirtz family opened.


More than 20 years later, Danny - son of Rocky Wirtz and grandson of the late Bill Wirtz - is leading his family's lower-profile, higher-revenue alcohol wholesale business into a new era in a changing industry.


Earlier this year, the Wirtz Beverage Group merged with New York-based Charmer Sunbelt to form Breakthru Beverage Group, the third largest alcohol distributor in the country. Almost immediately, there were challenges: Bacardi - supplier of Bacardi rum, Bombay Sapphire gin and Dewar's Scotch whisky - announced it was leaving the newly combined Breakthru and taking its business to competitor Southern Glazer's, the largest alcohol wholesaler in the U.S.


"It was a significant hit. But at the same time, as wholesalers, we're able to bounce back. ... We're in a great spot and we don't look back," said Wirtz, 39, vice chairman of Breakthru Beverage.


The Wirtz family name is inextricably linked to the Blackhawks, in good times and in bad. When Bill Wirtz died in 2007, ownership of the team passed to his son, Rocky. But the alcohol distribution business, which dates back to 1945, has been more lucrative than the family's hockey team, real estate holdings or insurance business. And Breakthru, with $6 billion in revenue and operating in 16 markets, including Canada, has plans to keep growing, Danny Wirtz said.


Running the family booze business wasn't always the plan. After growing up in Winnetka and attending Boston College, Wirtz pursued a passion for music and, eventually, brands, working for marketing firms in New York and London before returning to Chicago in 2007. Now he lives in Ukrainian Village with his wife, Anne, and two daughters, ages 4 and 7.


In a recent interview with the Tribune, Wirtz explained what brought him back and why he's excited for the future of Breakthru Beverage. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Q: What was it like growing up a Wirtz kid?


A: We were very, very lucky and privileged to be able to go to great schools. I'm not going to say it was a hardship. But it was unfortunately a challenge during some tough times for the Blackhawks. ... We were always proud to represent the family and stood behind our grandfather and my dad, and all the things that they did, but there were some tough years there.


Q: Did you all along feel the pull of the family business or did you have different things you wanted to do?


A: To be honest with you, I think in all family businesses, you either jump in or run the opposite direction. My path was definitely the opposite direction. I was interested in music, entertainment, marketing.


Q: Was there a single moment or defining experience where you knew you were coming back to work for Wirtz Beverage?


A: When you're in your early 20s, it's about getting away and doing your own thing, which I was happy I did. Then you're approaching almost 10 years of experience and skills and you've earned some things on your own, and you start to feel pride - is there anything I'm doing now that I could bring back to the family? ... My grandfather passes away, I already have this idea of giving back to the family, and lo and behold, there's actually a position opened up in our Diageo division for luxury marketing brand manager, which as a job description sounded perfect to me. So it's amazing how things sort of just open up and fall into place.


Q: Do you and Rocky talk on a daily basis? Is he that involved in the business?


A: To be honest, he's very deferential. This is his approach with the executives who work for him. He's not calling up (Blackhawks President) John McDonough every day, he's not hounding our managers. He does not believe in micromanagement. He hires good people and let's them run. And he's taken that approach with me.


Q: What led to the merger with Charmer Sunbelt?


A: We see the world similarly. What a great opportunity to combine two great companies and be very aspirational about forming something new for the industry. That was really the impetus. It came very natural. It wasn't forced. It came from a desire to do something better.


Q: In practical terms, though, what does that mean?


A: Obviously, we're able to operate in a broader footprint. It diversifies our markets. We're able to operate in different types of markets. We're now able to do, as a new company, significantly more business with our core supplier partners. We represent a larger piece of their total business across the markets. And as this new company, we're able to reinvest in our business in a more significant level.


Q: Are there consumer trends that are affecting how Breakthru conducts its business?


A: In general, we have to stay very nimble. The rate of change is faster than it's ever been. ... It used to be that you sort of identified with a brand when you were in your 20s and you stayed with it. Now, the millennial consumer is driving so much change and jumping from, not just brands, but categories.


Q: Are there any emerging threats to the system, such as on-demand delivery, that you're keeping an eye on?


A: The concept of on-demand (delivery) or having an e-commerce experience is different for our products. I think the challenge for the industry is how do we provide consumers with that kind of experience but do it in a way that follows the laws.


Q: What about eBay Wine or Amazon (selling wine)?


A: Definitely a threat depending on the market and the laws. You have to start with: What are the laws in place? It also goes to the strength of good retailers. Hopefully, retailers are doing everything they can to bring people into their stores and brands are being built in stores so our products don't become commoditized or ordered in an online environment as staple products, like toilet paper or shoes.


Q: Is it forcing Breakthru to change its model?


A: 100 percent. I don't want to be the person saying 10 years ago, 'No one will ever buy shoes on the internet.' Look at where that world is going. The internet will impact our business one way or another. I think all stakeholders in this business are just trying to figure out how.


Q: What do you think your dad's legacy will be and how do you want yours to be different?


A: I think his legacy will be he dramatically improved all of our businesses, took them into new places, reinvented them and he hopefully is going to hand that on to our next generation in a better place. ... As it relates to my legacy, I'm early stages before laying down that groundwork. But hopefully if I follow his lead, it would be to do the things to take the company to the next level.


Q: What's your go-to drink?


A: I love a good Manhattan. ... But a Manhattan on a day like today is probably not my choice. It's probably more a margarita or a light sessionable craft beer. But in the middle of a nice, harsh Chicago winter, a nice Manhattan's great. But I'm an equal opportunity consumer of cocktails.

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Illinois Governor Urged To Veto Wine Drinkers Felony Bill 

Friday, August 12, 2016 4:50:00 PM

National Association of Wine Retailers Urges End To Unconstitutional Law Limiting Wine Shipments


Source: National Association of Wine Retailers

Tom Wark, Executive Director

August 8th


The National Association of Wine Retailers today delivered a letter to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner urging him to veto a bill that would turn Illinois wine drinkers and the retailer they procure wine from into felons. That would be the result of the governor signing SB 2989, currently awaiting his signature or veto.


Senate Bill 2989 (Sponsor-Clayborne) would make it a felony for an Illinois wine drinker to ship wine to their home address from outside the state, as well as turn out-of-state wine stores into felons for the crime of shipping wine to Illinois consumers. Currently, Illinois prohibits shipments of wine from out-of-state if they are shipped by the Illinois resident or an out-of-state wine store or Internet retailer.


Illinois law currently allows Illinois-based wineries and wine stores and out-of-state wineries to ship wine to Illinoisans, but prohibits the same practice by out-of-state wine stores. The restriction was put in place in 2008 at the behest of Illinois wine and beer distributors in order to protect them from competition. This discrimination violates the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause that requires equal treatment of in-state and out-of-state economic interests such as wine stores.


The letter from the NAWR to Governor Rauner reads:


Dear Governor Rauner:


We at the National Association of Wine Retailers urge you to veto SB 2989. The alternative is to sign this shortsighted bill and turn Illinois wine lovers into felons for the "crime" of arranging to ship a bottle of Pinot Noir to themselves. A far more reasonable policy would be to support a law that unambiguously allows Illinois consumers to have wine shipped to them from out-of-state wine stores and to collect sales taxes for the state in the process.


The problem with SB 2989 is that it doubles down on an already unconstitutional Illinois law that discriminates against interstate commerce for the purposes of protecting Illinois wine wholesalers from competing in a 21st century wine marketplace. While allowing Illinois wine stores to ship wine directly to the doors of Illinois wine consumers, the current law bars out-of-state wine stores from doing the same. That's not right. That's not fair. That's not consumer friendly. That's not constitutional. But that's what SB 2989 preserves.


Violations of this unconstitutional law are currently a misdemeanor. Sign SB 2989 and you would make felons out of an Illinois wine lovers who ship wine to themselves that they obtained out of state as well as out-of-state wine stores that ship wine to Illinois consumers who only wanted to obtain the wine they could not find locally.


If your concern is to heighten regulation surrounding the sale and shipment of wine from out-of-state wine stores, the simple solution is to license these out-of-state wine stores and Internet wine retailers, require they remit taxes to Illinois on sales to Illinois residents and place the stores under the legal jurisdiction of Illinois by licensing them. Only by doing this will Illinois have full tax and legal jurisdiction over retail wine shipments originating outside your state.


Your choice is clear, Governor. Support opening Illinois to wine shipments from out-of-state wine stores and reap millions in tax revenue while reducing enforcement costs. Or sign SB2989 and thereby turn Illinois consumers into felons, while doubling down on an unconstitutional law that discriminates against legitimate interstate commerce.




Tom Wark, Executive Director

National Association of Wine Retailers.


It is estimated that Illinois would reap upwards of $5 million in tax revenue by simply allowing out-of-state retailers to obtain the same permit that out-of-state wineries apply for and allow them to ship wine directly to Illinois residents. Currently, wineries that obtain such a permit remit taxes to Illinois and submit themselves to Illinois legal jurisdiction. However, currently, due to the ban on shipments from out-of-state wine stores, Illinois has no legal or taxing jurisdiction over out-of-state wine retailers that fulfill Illinois consumers' requests to buy wines they are willing to seek outside the state due to their inability to find them in the state.


"The bill currently on Governor Rauner's desk would not only continue to perpetuate an unconstitutional restriction on interstate commerce and cost the state millions in enforcement efforts and lost tax revenue, but also turn Illinois citizens into felons when their arrange to have wine purchased outside the state shipped to their home address," said Tom Wark, Executive Director of the NAWR. "It's a profoundly anti-consumer, protectionist and expensive way to shield local wine distributors from the kind of competition that every other business in Illinois is required to be exposed to."

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Honored ILBA Member Albert Henry Pierantoni Passes Away 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 9:11:00 AM

Illinois Licensed Beverage Association

Honored ILBA Member Albert Henry Pierantoni Passes Away

Albert Henry Pierantoni, age 97, of Highwood, Ill., passed away on July 26, 2016, at his daughter's home, surrounded by family. During his 30-year tenure as owner of Al and Jane's Restaurant in Highwood, he was an honored member of the National Licensed Beverage Association and the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, and was influential in shaping state liquor laws.

Albert Henry Pierantoni

  • MAZOMANIE - Albert Henry Pierantoni, age 97, of Highwood, Ill., passed away on July 26, 2016, at his daughter's home, surrounded by family. He was born on Oct. 25, 1918, in Litchfield, Ill. He was the beloved husband of the late Jane (nee Monciwodzinski); loving father of Daniel (late Karen) and Sally (John Quisling); fond grandfather of Jason (Claire) Quisling, Mark (Sandy) Pierantoni, Joshua Quisling, Danielle (William) Nasello, and Michol (Greg) Banes; cherished great-grandfather of Justine, Nicholas, Corinne, Josephine, Gianna, Nathan, Greyson, Yvangeline, and the late Eric; dear brother of the late Pete, Fred (Lottie), Ernie (Kay), Stella (Waddy) Pigati, and Alba (Tunney) Neunaber.

  • During his 30 year tenure as owner of Al and Jane's Restaurant in Highwood, he was an honored member of the National Licensed Beverage Association and the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, and was influential in shaping state liquor laws. He was a driving force in the development and expansion of the Highwood Public Library. His love for all, including troubled youth, led him to become one of the largest private fundraisers for Sky Ranch for Boys. His value of joy and laughter, unrelenting hard work, his principles and constant wisdom remain a part of all those who knew and loved him.

  • A funeral Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Saturday, July 30, 2016, at St. James Catholic Church, Highwood, Ill. Interment followed at Ascension Cemetery, Libertyville, Ill. Contributions may be made to the Highwood Historical Society, P.O. Box 132, Highwood, IL 60040. For information, please contact the Seguin & Symonds Funeral Home, Highwood Ill. (847) 432-3878.

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MIC Coalition Applauds DOJ Action to Protect Consumers' Access to Music  

Monday, August 08, 2016 5:44:00 AM

Ed. Note: 

ABL is a member of the MIC Coalition, and promotes greater transparency in music licensing. 


MIC Coalition Applauds DOJ Action to Protect Consumers' Access to Music 

Supports Decision to Maintain Protections Against PRO Anti-Competitive Business Practices

Today the MIC Coalition, a group of associations whose members provide music over the nation's airwaves, through the Internet and in stores, hotels, restaurants, bars and taverns through the country, released the following statement on the conclusion of the Justice Department Antitrust Division's review of consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI: 

"The MIC Coalition applauds the Department of Justice Antitrust Division for completing a thorough, multi-year review of the longstanding voluntary consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI after consideration of extensive input from music publishers, music users and the PROs themselves. 

The decision to maintain current protections against anti-competitive behavior ensures that even though ASCAP and BMI control more than 90% of the U.S. music marketplace, music licensees can continue to access music under a system that fairly compensates music creators for their work. 

DOJ is absolutely correct in clarifying that music users who purchase ASCAP and BMI blanket licenses unambiguously obtain the unlimited right to play the songs in these organizations' repertoires. ASCAP and BMI's own contracts and public representations of their licenses make clear that this is and always has been standard operating procedure.  Deviating from this widely accepted practice would significantly harm consumers, services, venues and songwriters. 

ASCAP and BMI's massive market power remains as real a threat to a fair and competition-driven music marketplace as it has ever been. DOJ's decision to maintain the current protections of the consent decrees appropriately serves as a check against antitrust violations that would create unworkable cost and complexity for those looking to play music publicly." 


  • The MIC Coalition comprises companies, associations, consumer groups, and venue owners seeking to preserve the right to stream or play music at affordable prices for customers in places like restaurants, bars, venues, retail locations or via online music services.

  • Currently, any songwriter or publisher who belongs to a PRO provides the right to license out their songs for performance (broadcast, streaming, playing) in public. 
  • Music users typically purchase a "blanket license" from a PRO, which covers all of the songs registered with that PRO. 
  • ASCAP and BMI's own documentation and contracts make clear that blanket licenses provide the right to play musical works as a 'whole,' and do not limit those who purchase such a license to 'fractional' interest in songs.
  • In public comments submitted to the DOJ during its review, ASCAP stated, "ASCAP's membership is as varied as its repertory, which represents every genre of music; a blanket license permits a licensee equal access to all or any types of music in the repertory, whether top 40 hits or older, rarely performed catalog works."

  • In defining the blanket licenses they sell to music users, ASCAP's website states, "'Blanket license' is a license which allows the music user to perform any or all of over 8.5 million songs in the ASCAP repertory as much or as little as they like. Licensees pay an annual fee for the license. The blanket license saves music users the paperwork, trouble and expense of finding and negotiation licenses with all of the copyright owners of the works that might be used during a year and helps prevent the user from even inadvertently infringing on the copyrights of ASCAP's member and the many foreign writers whose music is licensed by ASCAP in the U.S."

  • description of the services BMI provides on its website states, "Our Music Licenses offer copyright clearance to use all of the works in the BMI repertoire in a variety of ways. This service saves music users the immense time and expense of contacting each songwriter or composer for permission to play their music publicly."
  • The idea of "fractional licensing" would undermine the self-proclaimed rationale for ASCAP and BMI's existence as a one-stop shop for the purchase of public performance rights.
  • Beginning in 1941, and updated as recently as 2001, ASCAP and BMI have operated under voluntary consent decrees designed to limit their collusive business practices and prevent price fixing and other behavior the Justice Department alleged to be anti-competitive. 
  • In 2014, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice announced a review of the consent decrees, including consideration of a PRO proposed scheme providing for the partial withdrawal of some rights and fractional licensing, to determine whether the new era of digital music and the democratization of music creation, production and performance necessitated new ground rules.

  • After extensive public comment and a lengthy review, the Antitrust Division chose not to alter the current prohibition on the "partial withdrawal" of licensing rights by a copyright holder (i.e. a PRO cannot decide to license a song to a musical outlet such as a bar, restaurant or AM/FM radio station, while refusing to license the same song to an online music service.). DOJ rightly determined that allowing such an unprecedented practice would be contrary to the underlying principles of the consent decrees and broadly detrimental to the music industry and consumers.

Similarly, DOJ considered and chose not to adopt a new policy providing "fractional licensing". Under the current consent decrees, a licensee need only obtain license from one copyright holder in order to perform a work. For a song with multiple copyright holders, anyone with a license from any PRO can play the song publicly. The PRO is then responsible to ensure that all the copyright holders get compensated as their contracts dictate. Again, DOJ correctly determined that "fractional licensing" requiring licensees to obtain separate permission from each and every copyright holder individually before being permitted to perform a song would create gridlock in the music industry, increase complexity for small and medium-sized businesses and drive up costs for musical performance, ultimately hurting music lovers and creative artists alike.

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Mastercard: Chip cards cut fraud by 60% 

Monday, August 08, 2016 5:43:00 AM


Al Urbanski

August 3, 2016


Credit card fraud is down by more than 60% at Mastercard's top five EMV-enabled merchants since chip cards were introduced late last year, according to the company.


"Mastercard has helped over 150 countries adopt EMV and, time and again, we've seen the same result - significant reductions in counterfeit card fraud," said Chiro Aikat, Mastercard's senior VP of EMV product delivery.


Mastercard reports that 8 out of 10 of its U.S. cardholders have chips and counts 1.7 million chip-active merchants on its network - about 30% of total U.S. retailers. During a similar appraisal in May, Visa estimated 1.2 million stores were chip enabled.


Still, many retailers that have installed chip-ready card readers still are asking shoppers to swipe. According to a report in the Washington Post, significant numbers of those stores bought the hardware but still have not installed the software necessary to switch them over to EMV approvals. In some cases, retailers have installed the software but are still waiting for completion of the certification process that Ok's payments.


To address the problem, Mastercard cut the number of tests retailers need to perform by more than 50%, ceding retailers greater discretion in deciding when their terminals are ready for deployment. The company has also introduced a tap-and-go technology called M/Chip Fast that make the EMV approval process close to the speed of swiping.

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The smart stick-on tattoo that can monitor your alcohol levels - and even call police if you're over the limit (Additional Coverage) 

Monday, August 08, 2016 5:39:00 AM

Monitor a wearer's sweat to test blood alcohol levels

Links to a smartphone app to show users their results

Can be adapted to be used by police and doctors to monitor people

Source: Daily Mail

By Mark Prigg

3 August 2016

A new smart stick on tattoo will be able to monitor exactly how much a person is drinking.

The flexible patch can detect a person's blood-alcohol level from their sweat.

It can even message doctors and even police if the wearer drinks too much.

In the U.S., one person dies every 53 minutes in an alcohol-related car accident, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Currently, ignition interlock devices are being marketed as a way to prevent drunk drivers from starting a car engine.

But these are based on breath analysis, which can be affected by a number of factors including humidity, temperature and whether someone has used mouthwash.

The monitor, reported in the journal ACS Sensors, works quickly and can send results wirelessly to a smartphone or other device.

Recent research has demonstrated that sweat can be a more reliable real-time indicator of blood alcohol content.

At least two transdermal sensors have been developed to measure alcohol levels in sweat, but users have to wait up to 2 hours for results.

Joseph Wang, Patrick Mercier and colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, set out to make a more practical version.

With temporary-tattoo paper, the researchers developed a patch that tests blood alcohol content non-invasively in three rapid steps.

It induces sweat by delivering a small amount of the drug pilocarpine across the skin.

An enzymatic reaction leads to the electrochemical detection of the alcohol content.

And a flexible electronic circuit board transmits the data via a Bluetooth connection to a mobile device or laptop.

With temporary-tattoo paper, the researchers developed a patch that tests blood alcohol content non-invasively in three rapid steps.

The steps take less than 8 minutes from start to finish.

In addition to connecting to vehicles' ignition interlock systems, the sensor could be a simple tool for bartenders, friends or law enforcement to use, the researchers say.

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