Lawmakers, business groups push back against Chicago’s proposed minimum wage hike 

Monday, July 28, 2014 10:08:54 AM
Brady Cremeens | July 17, 2014 | Jobs + Growth CHICAGO — There is no shortage of debate over a potential minimum wage hike in America’s third largest city. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel last week announced his support of a plan to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 an hour and some lawmakers and business groups are pushing back. Emanuel’s Minimum Wage Working Group — a compilation of city aldermen, union and business leaders appointed by the mayor — voted 13-3 on July 9 in favor of recommending to the city council an increase of about 63 percent to the city’s minimum wage. The plan is to raise the wage in phases over the next four years. Residents who earn a large portion of their salary in tips — mostly those in the service industry — would also see a $1 increase in their required minimum wage, phased in over the course of two years. The task force said at that time the minimum wage would be tied to inflation rates. “Nobody who works should raise a child in poverty. That’s the American way,” Emanuel said in a statement. “And our effort here is to make sure that the city of Chicago is on record as it relates to raising the minimum wage.” While the national minimum wage requirement is $7.25 an hour, some states have wage floors much higher. Illinois’ current minimum wage is $8.25 an hour, placing it among the top five states with the highest minimum wage. Chicago’s potential increase to $13 an hour would follow Seattle’s experimental minimum wage rate of $15 an hour enacted earlier this year. But a higher minimum wage doesn’t come without consequences, said Ken McMillan, a professor of economics at Monmouth College. “If you increase the cost of wages, you’re going to either see a reduction in services or the cost of those higher wages will passed on in some way,” he said. “Manipulating the wage rates can’t be done in a vacuum where nothing else is affected.” State Sen. Matt Murphy, R – Palatine, said policies like an increased minimum wage end up hurting the people they’re intended to help. “It’s not worth giving a small percentage of workers a raise when it will cost a large number of workers their jobs,” Murphy said. “It’s no coincidence that the best areas for economic growth usually have lower minimum wages than we do.” Three members of the mayor’s task force — including representatives from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce — opposed the increase, citing poor business practice and unemployment concerns. The mayor’s office states the increase will benefit Chicagoans and the city by raising wages for more than 400,000 workers and infusing $800 million into the economy over the four-year period. State Rep. Mary Flowers, D – Chicago, echoed Emanuel’s sentiments and said an increased minimum wage is vital to the health and prosperity of Chicago’s working class. “There are so many single moms, hard working parents out there who are trying to get by on salaries that put them far below the poverty level,” Flowers said. “We have an obligation to help these people. That’s why we are in office.” Other groups like Action Now and Raise Chicago support the wage hike, but say it doesn’t go far enough. They are pushing for an immediate $15 an hour rate. In March, Cook County placed an advisory referendum on the ballot asking whether voters would be in favor of a $15 per hour minimum wage. Voters in the 103 precincts that submitted enough approved signatures to warrant ballot space supported the idea overwhelmingly, with more than 85 percent casting “yes” ballots. Another 1,967 precincts did not submit the required signatures. In June Gov. Quinn signed a bill placing a non-binding advisory referendum on the November ballots that will ask voters their opinion on if the state should increase its minimum wage to $10 an hour. The referendum is a reaction to state lawmakers coming up short in an effort to raise the minimum wage legislatively last session. Emanuel pledged to continue his advocacy for raising Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 regardless of the statewide referendum results in November. Neither Emanuel nor the city council is expected to take action on the recommendation until after the November elections.
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Boosting hourly law only hurts workers 

Monday, July 28, 2014 10:02:51 AM

By Sam Sanchez and Scott DeFife July 11, 2014 9:16PM

Updated: July 12, 2014 2:10AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s wage task force was inevitably going to come to the wrong conclusion. Dramatically increasing Chicago’s minimum wage to $13 will not bring the economic growth and relief that this city needs. For two months, the mayor’s task force heard from economists, business owners and labor leaders about the implications of an increased minimum wage. The mayor was right to seek outside counsel and we commend this process. What we take issue with is the lopsided and partisan solution the task force produced in spite of what it learned. How do we know this? We were two of the business leaders who testified before the task force and offered first-hand perspective on the impact a large increase in the city’s minimum wage would have on our communities. They know their proposal will cause job loss and price increases, especially outside the downtown business district. While Chicago’s economy is finally beginning a sustained recovery — led by the restaurant industry — unemployment is still more than 8 percent and youth unemployment is over 25 percent. Raising the minimum wage is not a silver bullet solution for addressing the city’s economic challenges. Raising it to 75 percent above the rest of the area is extreme. It will not fundamentally address poverty or income inequality. Chicago would be better served by comprehensive economic policies that promote hiring and growth. In our industry, the minimum wage is used primarily as a starting, entry-level wage for first time workers, teens or part-time workers. It is meant to help jumpstart their careers. In fact, more than 70 percent of restaurant workers receive a wage increase within the first year. Many stay and grow in the industry. These workers can’t afford to be shut out of jobs where they learn valuable skills and gain critical experiences. The restaurant industry welcomes a discussion on these issues — in part, because we provide nearly 10 percent ofthe nation’s jobs and more than 300,000 people in Chicago. We are willing partners, but the task force seems to disregard small businesses and the jobs they provide. They were wrong to ignore the recommendations of people who employ and train Chicago’s workers and play such active roles in our communities. We need comprehensive solutions that would help create jobs, strengthen the middle class, increase opportunitiesfor families and put more money back into the economy. Sam Sanchez owns John Barleycorn, Moe’s Cantina, Old Crow Smokehouse and Chen’s Chinese and Sushi. Scott DeFife, National Restaurant Association

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21: Science's limit on the drinking age 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 3:58:19 PM

Some say law makes drinking more appealing to teens

Source: WCVB Jul 15, 2014

On July 17, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which withheld a percentage of highway funds from any state that didn't raise the minimum drinking age to 21.

The week before, Reagan had declared ice cream a "nutritious" food.

Perhaps that's a hint that politicians don't always know what's best for your health.

Thirty years later, there is a group of people with Ph.D.s and M.D.s who take issue with the drinking age. They say, from a scientific standpoint, that the law may target the wrong teen behavior.

Solving one public health crisis The law came into being to solve a serious public health problem.

Before the minimum drinking age law, 16- to 20-year-olds were the most common drunken drivers.

When the drinking age was raised, the number of fatal crashes involving a young driver dropped significantly, from 61 percent in 1982 to 31 percent in 1995. It went down more for that age group than any older age group.

But while the law did have a significant impact on drinking and driving, it did not stop kids from drinking. In fact, it may have made drinking even more appealing to teens, whose brains naturally seek out risk more than adult brains do -- without considering what the consequences might be.

A survey of students at 56 colleges across the country just a couple years after the legislation passed found that "significantly more under-age students drank compared to those of legal age." This study concluded that "the increase in purchase age appears to have been not only ineffective but actually counter-productive, at least in the short run."

The definition of adulthood is not clear-cut when it comes to science.

"There's no magic that happens physically to someone when they are 21 as compared to age 18," said Dr. William Graf, a professor of pediatric neurology at Yale.

The American Psychological Association says that drawing a single line between adolescence and adulthood under the law is at odds with developmental science. They say adolescence usually begins about age 10 and ends around 19, but really it depends; maturity is based on an individual's experiences.

Developing brains

Current data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and Monitoring the Future, the two official surveys that monitor such topics, suggest that roughly 65 percent of college students (generally aged 18 to 22) drink alcohol in any given month.

Most of the college students who choose to drink are binge drinking, according to a study out of Harvard. Seven out of 10 are consuming five or more drinks in a row.

Binge drinking can have a damaging impact on a developing brain. Evidence suggests that heavy exposure to alcohol can cause irreversible brain damage and cognitive deficits, including memory problems.

Scientists say the teenage years are one of the most important times for brain development, next to infancy. Neurons in the brain are growing and strengthening, connections are developing to allow the brain to transmit information faster and allow the brain to process more complex thoughts, and the brain goes through a kind of pruning process to eliminates synapses that are infrequently used.

All this brain development has a huge impact on a person's development and mental well-being. It also means that young people have lapses in judgment during this time period as they try to figure out how to be adults.

The limbic system, the part of your brain that is involved in processing social and emotional information, develops early in adolescents. But the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that involves judgment, impulse control and abstract thought and the ability to anticipate the consequences of your actions, isn't fully shaped until your late 20s.

Mimicking behavior

Abigail A. Baird, associate professor of psychology at Vassar College, has spent her career trying to understand what happens with the typical adolescent brain.

Baird argues that if anything, in terms of biology, the age limits on driving and drinking should be flipped.

"If I were queen for the day, I would move the drinking age to 18 and maybe not let them drive until they were 21, at least not with other people besides your parents in the car," Baird said.

She likes the idea of graduated driver's license laws that slowly let young drivers have more responsibility as they get more practice in the car. This is based on the theory that they will learn how to avoid accidents as they gain experience.

The statistics back her up. Before states introduced graduated licensing systems during the first six months of solo driving, newly licensed drivers were about eight times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than more experienced drivers.

"We all know adolescents are obsessed with learning from their peers. ... Adolescents learn based on experience. They are not good at learning abstractly; that's what changes a lot between 18 and 21. When you get older, you can learn from reading stories about people and by really feeling for other people."

Baird believes that society could use the way young people learn to help them learn how to drink responsibly at an earlier age. If drinking were less of a clandestine affair, perhaps a teen's peers could model more appropriate behavior for younger participants. She says it's important to learn how to behave around alcohol.

"Find me a business dinner that you will go to where you are not offered alcohol," Baird challenged. "In our society, you do need to know what do around it and how much you can handle."

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America's Smokers: Still 40 Million Strong 

Thursday, July 17, 2014 5:11:58 PM
Tobacco Companies Focus on Heavy Users Including Gays, Seek Growth in Menthol and E-Cigs Source: WSJ Mike Esterl, Karishma Mehrotra and Valerie Bauerlein July 15, 2014 Smoking rates vary regionally. Kentucky has the highest rate (30.2%), and Utah (12.2%) the lowest. Above, a rooftop smoker in New York. Reuters The U.S. adult smoking rate has plunged to below 20% from more than 40% half a century ago. Increasingly, smokers are poorer and less educated. And many smokers call themselves "occasional" or social smokers, consciously reining themselves in to try to avoid getting hooked. Still, there are more than 40 million smokers in the U.S. today. And beneath the broad trends are pockets of growth and opportunity that are generating great interest in the tobacco industry. Smoking rates are higher in gay, lesbian and bisexual groups, which are being targeted by the industry. More Americans are switching to menthol cigarettes like Newport, Lorillard Inc. LO -10.49% 's biggest brand. Indeed, Newport is the hot brand that Reynolds American Inc. RAI -6.87% expects to add to its portfolio with its planned $25 billion acquisition of Lorillard, announced Tuesday. At a time when Americans crave extreme taste in products that range from candy to beer, it isn't surprising that the only flavored cigarette the FDA allows-menthol-is also the one that is growing fastest. Menthol cigarettes have grown to 31.4% of the cigarette mix, up from 28.7% in 2008, according to Citi Research. The Food and Drug Administration is weighing restrictions on menthol, amid studies suggesting it cools the mouth and throat, making it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. "It just tastes good,'' said Jay Oh, a 29-year-old waitress in Kotzebue, Alaska, who smokes Kool menthols and lives in the county where U.S. smoking rates are the highest: 41.5% for men and 40.8% for women, according to a recent study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Menthol cigarettes are particularly popular with African-Americans, who smoke them 80% of the time. Small-business consultant Bo M. Marshall, 40, bought a pack of Camel Crush Menthol cigarettes at Tobacco & Gifts in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday morning. The Crush cigarette, made by Reynolds, tastes like a regular Camel until you crush the logo on the filter, releasing a menthol burst of flavor. Reynolds also has been cultivating its niche Natural American Spirit brand by pitching it as "organic.'' Russell Mick, a 27-year-old environmental sciences major at the University of Arkansas, rolls his own cigarettes with organic Natural American Spirit tobacco. "It's 'healthy,' " said Mr. Mick, making air quotes with his fingers. Cigarette companies have already stepped up their marketing in the LGBT community. A government survey published last month estimated the smoking rate among lesbian, gay and bisexuals to be 27.7%, compared with 17.3% among heterosexuals. The higher smoking rates could be tied to greater social stress, more frequent visits to bars and higher rates of alcohol use, according to Legacy, an antismoking group. Smoking rates also vary regionally. Kentucky, a major tobacco producer, had the highest smoking rate in the country last year at 30.2%, followed by West Virginia and Mississippi, according to a Gallup poll. Utah had the lowest rate, at 12.2%, followed by California and Minnesota. In Vicksburg, Miss., 34-year-old restaurant worker Felicia James says she has been smoking for 20 years and doesn't feel out of place. Her city is near Issaquena County, where the male smoking rate rose 1.1% in annualized terms between 1996 and 2012, the biggest increase in any U.S. county, according to a recent study. "It's like everybody smokes,'' said Ms. James, who smokes Newport menthols. Something else that hasn't changed despite years of state and federal excise tax increases: the lower the income, the higher the smoking rate. The adult smoking rate among Americans below the poverty line was 27.9% in 2012, compared with 17% for those above the poverty line, according to a government survey. The smoking rate in households with annual incomes that top $100,000 is 9.3%, according to another recent government survey. But cigarettes also cost less in smoker-heavy states. The 10 states with the highest smoking rates had an average cigarette tax of 82 cents a pack in 2012, compared with $2.42 in the 10 states with the lowest smoking rates, according to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. About 70% of American smokers say they want to quit, and about 50% try to quit every year. "I need to quit," says Mr. Marshall, the North Carolina small-business consultant. "I have quit a number of times." Many say they are ashamed of the habit. Donna "D" Sharp, who works at a law firm in Atlanta, has been smoking a half a pack of Newports a day for 30 years. "We're definitely pariahs of society at this point," Ms. Sharp, 59, said. She isolates herself at dinner parties and goes outside her office building during the day to smoke. "It's a horrible, ugly habit," she said. But kicking the habit remains tough. Only about 1 in 20 who try to quit in any given year actually succeed, according to various surveys. Vivek Dutta, a 65-year-old engineering consultant in Cupertino, Calif., says he began smoking when he was 24 and smokes a pack a of Marlboro Golds each day. But he only smokes the first half of each cigarette, hoping less tar will enter his lungs that way. When Chuck Rushton started smoking as a teenager, cigarettes were 35 cents a pack. Now he's spending about $48 a week for a carton of Doral Gold cigarettes at N.C. Tobacco, the strip-mall shop in southwest Raleigh where he is a regular. Mr. Rushton, 63, said he would like to quit but hasn't been able to. "I've tried gum, patches, hypnosis, and cold turkey," he said. "The longest I lasted was four days." His doctor suggested he switch to electronic cigarettes, but it turns out that for him-and a lot of others-e-cigarettes just aren't the same as smoking. He thinks an e-cig "looks like a portable hookah," he said. Mr. Marshall, the Camel Crush smoker, doesn't trust them. "You don't know what's in that stuff," he said. "I can't see inhaling a vapor that's not necessarily FDA approved." Mr. Mick, the college student, says most of his smoker friends switched to e-cigs because they are more convenient. He tried, but "it doesn't appeal to me," said Mr. Mick. "An e-cig is not a cigarette. The tactile experience, the disgusting sensation of smoke entering my lungs. It's not the same."
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Illinois food-handler training law set to take effect 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 1:15:43 PM - Link for Food Handler Course.

Source: NRA

June 20, 2014

Illinois is about to become the second state to require all foodservice employees who work with food, food equipment, utensils, and food-contact surfaces to receive basic food safety training through programs accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-ASTM International.

The requirement takes effect in Illinois July 1, but no fines will be assessed for violations until Jan. 1.

California was the first state to require employees who handle food to complete an ANSI-ASTM International accredited food safety training program. California's law took effect in 2012.

Previously, Illinois had no state training requirements for food-handler training, though restaurants were required to have an employee onsite at all times who has completed Food Protection Manager Certification (FPMC). Restaurant employees who have already earned the FPMC won't be required to receive the new food-handler training.

Specifically, the new Illinois law for food-handler training requires employees to be trained in basic safe food-handling principles within 30 days of starting employment. states that training must include monitoring food temperatures, foodborne illness, personal hygiene, food contamination prevention, cleaning and sanitizing equipment and utensils, and problems and solutions associated with temperature control, cross-contamination, housekeeping and maintenance. allows training to be completed online or in person. requires certificates to be renewed every three years

The Illinois Restaurant Association advocated for the law to require that training be conducted through ANSI-ASTM International approved programs, said Sam Toia, IRA president and CEO. "We wanted to make sure the quality of the training programs was being continuously monitored and verified by an accreditation organization with the appropriate expertise," he said.

"The industry here wanted to see additional training for their staffs and we began to see individual counties create different training standards for food handlers," Toia said. "We wanted one state standard. Food safety is of paramount importance to us." Employers aren't required to pay for training, which is limited to a cost of $15.

Restaurants must maintain physical or electronic proof of employees' food handler training, said Mary Wilkie, director of education for the Illinois Restaurant Association, who sat on a state committee that helped develop the law. After January 1, 2015, state and local health authorities will be able to issue fines, though it hasn't been determined what those will be, Wilkie said. "Enforcement will be limited to education and notification through Dec. 31," she said. "The goal was to not overburden the operator," she said.

ServSafe offers the ServSafe Manager and ServSafe Food Handler Programs, both of which are ANSI-ASTM International accredited. Both programs are offered in multiple formats and languages.

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CDC: Underage Drinking Declines to Record Low 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:43:59 PM

Posted June 16, 2014

by Press Release WASHINGTON, DC

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that underage drinking declined to record-low levels in 2013. America’s brewers and beer importers praised the findings and remain committed to further reducing teen drinking.

The CDC reported that the percentage of high school students who reported that they currently drink alcohol declined 31 percent since 1991 to a record-low. Furthermore, the percentage of high school students who reportedly drank five or more drinks of alcohol in a row declined 34 percent since 1991 to a record-low.

“This CDC report is great news, but brewers and beer importers know there is more work to be done,” said Beer Institute Vice President Chris Thorne. “We are committed to our partners in schools, law enforcement and communities across the country to make even greater strides toward reducing underage drinking. Brewers are committed to responsibility, and we will continue our work through hundreds of local and national programs to discourage underage drinking.”

Another government study released in December 2013, the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th-graders’ drug and alcohol use, reported that alcohol use and binge drinking continued their long-term declines in 2013, reaching their lowest points in the history of the study.

Beer Institute members have invested in hundreds of programs and initiatives to support public safety, education and prevention, including those aimed at reducing underage drinking. Specifically, brewers and importers work with a diverse alliance of partners to produce and promote materials to help parents talk with teens, discourage alcohol sales to minors, and promote responsibility on college campuses. Beer Institute members are also proud supporters of the Federal Trade Commission’s ‘We Don’t Serve Teens’ effort.

The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) are conducted among representative samples of students in grades 9–12. National, state, and large urban school district surveys have been conducted biennially since 1991. For more information on the beer industry’s responsibility initiatives, visit

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America's Beer, Wine & Spirits Retailers Meet in Washington 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:32:48 PM

American Beverage Licensees Conference Focuses on Advocacy & Education

Source: ABL

June 12, 2014

American Beverage Licensees gathered in the nation's capital June 8-10 to meet with their colleagues in the retail tier, Congressional Members, public officials, and industry leaders, and to learn from national experts on alcohol policy and business at the ABL Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

The conference opened on Sunday, June 8th with three sessions on legislation, regulation, and advocacy. Attorney Tony Kogut discussed the emerging importance of litigation in shaping state and federal alcohol laws. Former state alcohol regulator Pamela Erickson shared her viewpoint on why the government shapes alcohol policy. Finally, ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich briefed members on current Congressional issues of interest to beverage licensees and how they can engage in grassroots advocacy. The National Association of Beverage Importers continued their longtime tradition of sponsoring the opening reception of the ABL Conference, featuring a wide selection of imported beer.

Monday's events began with a breakfast sponsored by 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey, hosted by its founder Kieran Folliard. The day's general session kicked off with an Industry CEO panel with Doug Hertz of United Distributors and Immediate Past Chairman of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America; Greg LaMantia of L & F Distributors and chairman of the National Beer Wholesalers Association; and Gerry Ruvo of Campari America and chairman of the Distilled Spirits Council.

Monday's session continued with an update on traffic safety policy, with an emphasis on legal BAC initiatives and drugged driving, from attorney Stephen Talpins. A panel on industry media followed, featuring Charlie Forman from Beverage Information Group, Bill Slone of Beverage Media Group, and Joel Whitaker of Kane's Beverage News Daily. They discussed how they cover the products and people that comprise the alcohol industry.

MillerCoors continued their longtime support of independent licensees by hosting the MillerCoors luncheon. Following the luncheon, Marc Satterthwaite of Brown-Forman joined ABL to present the Brown-Forman Retailer of the Year Award to members from ABL affiliates throughout the country.

Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV), delivered the keynote address Monday afternoon. Highlighting the importance of oversight in governance, he spoke of the value of small business beverage retailers in the economy. He shared his experiences on the House Appropriations Committee and the lessons he learned after more than a decade in state government.

A recurring topic during the conference was the advent of legalized recreational marijuana and its effect on beverage licensees. Dan Riffle from the Marijuana Policy Project shared his organization's goals to "tax and regulate" marijuana state-by-state. The final session of the day focused on the business of selling alcohol, with Harry Kohlmann of Park Street reviewing generational differences and the appeal of certain tastes and trends.

Monday night, attendees enjoyed a spirits tasting reception featuring dozens of products from member companies of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the ABL Top Shelf Award Banquet. The ABL Top Shelf Award, the association's highest honor, was presented to Bill Samuels, Jr., Chairman Emeritus of Maker's Mark, who credited independent retailers for the success of the brand. Without their support, carrying the product and "dusting off bottles for the brand's first decade," the now-iconic whiskey would not have survived, said Samuels.

Tuesday, ABL members turned to Capitol Hill, where they met with over fifty Congressional offices and discussed the importance of considering beverage licensees on the issues affecting them, particularly the current transportation reauthorization bill, the minimum wage, and tax issues affecting small business.

"ABL felt it was important to once again bring our conference to Washington to further our focus on the federal landscape and beverage licensees' perspective of the industry," said John Bodnovich, ABL's director. "We appreciate the opportunity that the conference provides to celebrate the industry, relate to one another, and impart valuable information to our members that will help them and their businesses."

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2013 CDC National Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Teen Drinking Rates Reach Historic Low 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:18:57 PM

Source: DISCUS

Jun 12th

A major CDC survey released today reported that underage drinking rates among 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders are at their lowest levels since the survey's inception in 1991, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

The 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), released every two years by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also showed that the proportion of students reporting binge drinking fell to historic lows among all four grades in 2013.

"This long-term decline in underage and binge drinking is extremely encouraging but we must not become complacent as a society," said Dr. Peter Cressy, President of the Distilled Spirits Council and a former college president. "Parents, industry and the entire community must continue to work together for progress to continue."

Cressy noted that the spirits industry has been a part of this positive trend through the support of the Federal Trade Commission's We Don't Serve Teens program and the educational initiatives of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (, which provides tools to parents, schools and communities to address underage drinking and drunk driving.

More than 13,000 U.S. high school students participated in the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which is one of three surveys sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services that track data on substance abuse among youth nationally.

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The Vintner Group and Winebow Announce Merger 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:09:48 PM

The Winebow Group will Provide Unprecedented Reach and Service in Fine Wine and Craft Spirits

Source: Winebow

Jun 10th

The Vintner Group, Inc. and Winebow, Inc. today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to join forces as The Winebow Group, LLC.

The Winebow Group will offer a comprehensive import portfolio nationwide and a combined distribution network that includes the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington D.C. Reaching nearly half of the wine consumption in the U.S., the company will combine its financial stability and resources with its core values of passion, knowledge and outstanding customer service to become a new kind of leader in fine wine and craft spirits.

The new entity unites two companies that have striking similarities in history, structure and core values: both were founded in 1980, have grown significantly in recent years, have approximately the same number of employees, and share a common culture based on a passion for fine wine and craft spirits, knowledge of the products and regions represented, and personalized service.

David Townsend, who led The Vintner Group through its recent years of rapid growth and has nearly 20 years of experience in fine wine distribution, will lead The Winebow Group as President and CEO. "We are thrilled to build upon our shared, long-term focus on familyowned, estate wineries and our knowledge-based, service-oriented sales culture," said Townsend. "Bringing together the best resources and the best practices of each company allows us to conduct our style of business on an unprecedented scale. Our financial strength, operational expertise, and extended reach will provide a level of service not seen before in the fine wine and craft spirits sector."

"I am extremely pleased that Winebow, which has meant so much to me for over three decades, has joined forces with such a complementary partner," says Leonardo LoCascio, Founder and Chairman Emeritus who created Winebow over 34 years ago. "Together, it will make for a compelling company that will exceed in its ability to meet the needs of the ever-changing wine and craft spirits landscape. Success in today's market place is all about execution, and The Winebow Group will have a unique platform from which to develop our brands and meet the needs of our suppliers and our customers," LoCascio added.

The following entities will individually serve the territories listed: Winebow Imports: United States Winebow Distribution: Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. The Country Vintner: Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington D.C. Stacole Fine Wines: Florida Quality Wine & Spirits: Georgia Martin Scott Wines: Connecticut, New Jersey, New York

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Police could force bars to install surveillance cameras – or be shut down 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:03:44 PM

By Adam Tobias / June 6, 2014 /

By Adam Tobias | Wisconsin Reporter CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. — Bernie LaVelle doesn’t want to infringe on his customers’ privacy by installing surveillance cameras at his Weekend at Bernie’s bar, but his local government may not give him a choice.

The Chippewa Falls Police Department is pushing for an ordinance requiring all tavern owners in the city to pay for and set up surveillance cameras at their establishments because some law enforcement officials think the devices could help solve more crimes.

NO CHOICE: An ordinance being proposed in Chippewa Falls would force tavern owners to install surveillance cameras and share any footage with police — or they could be shut down.

But if a bar owner were to violate the proposed law, which would allow police to obtain video footage at any time, they could lose their liquor license and be shut down.

LaVelle begrudgingly admitted to Wisconsin Reporter he’d be forced to comply because his private business is his sole means of income.

“You don’t have an option,” LaVelle said. “The government is controlling everything now and every aspect of our lives, and I just don’t like the way they are going with everything. They just keep jamming (expletive deleted) down our throats.”

The ordinance, which was presented to the Chippewa Falls Public Safety Committee earlier this week, has been forwarded to the city attorney’s office for review, according to Mike Hanke, chairman of the safety panel.

The proposed law was requested by the Police Department with the goal of helping officers better identify criminals and collect evidence, Hanke said.

Police Chief Wendy Stelter and Sgt. Dave BeBeau, who spoke in favor of the measure at the Public Safety Committee meeting, did not return several calls and emails from Wisconsin Reporter seeking comment.

Although Hanke agrees that surveillance cameras can assist law enforcement, he said he has reservations about the ordinance because he’s not entirely sure it’s legal, especially the provision that gives police full access to the private recordings.

“If we buy cameras and put them in our businesses, and you think you have a right to all that just because you pass an ordinance that says if you don’t, you lose your license, that averts the whole idea of privacy,” Pete Madland, executive director of the Tavern League of Wisconsin, told Wisconsin Reporter.

If the measure is approved by the Chippewa Falls Common Council, Madland said expects his organization’s board of directors to challenge it in court.

“It certainly would be up for discussion,” he added. “If we felt that this was setting a precedent, yeah, we definitely would do that.” Madland said he is not aware of any similar laws passed by Wisconsin municipalities.

John Bodnovich, executive director of American Beverage Licensees, also described the situation as rare, even on a national level.

“Requirements like this are not commonplace precisely because of the unfair financial burden they would place on law-abiding local small businesses,” Bodnovich said in an email.

Hanke also said he is troubled the ordinance does not include all businesses in the city and singles out a select group. If cameras are really needed, Hanke said it shouldn’t be the responsibility of private establishments.

“My theory is, if you feel that certain areas of the city need to be monitored, the city needs to put their own cameras up and have the city pay for it and not make private business pay for it,” Hanke told Wisconsin Reporter.

Madland also said the city should focus on places that have had habitual problems.

“To put the financial burden on a tavern that has never had an incident is out of line … It’s like the old adage, whoever has the hammer, everything looks like a nail, and that’s what it looks like here,” Madland added.

The ordinance calls for bars to have electric cameras monitoring in all sections open to the public, including entrances, exits and cash registers. Cameras must be recording during business hours, and all footage must be kept for at least 21 days.

A bar owner who disobeys any section of the law is subject to a fine of no more than $500 and can have their license revoked or not renewed.

The city also has a similar ordinance that applies to grocery and liquor stores.

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