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Rolly: New DABC boss shows Utah’s liquor wackiness dies hard

By PAUL ROLLY

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Jan 11 2013 04:36 pm • Last Updated May 05 2013 11:32 pm

In the 1988 movie "Die Hard," Bruce Willis’ character runs around a high-rise office tower trying to save his wife and dozens of other hostages from a gang of East German terrorists who are also trying to hunt him down as he knocks off one terrorist at a time.

His only lifeline outside the building is a police radio contact with Los Angeles police Sgt. Al Powell, as city, state and federal officers form a perimeter around the building.

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But the sergeant and the Willis character keep getting thwarted by an incompetent LAPD deputy chief named Dwayne Robinson. This bumbler’s ego demands he be the one in charge, so he keeps interfering with the sergeant to make the point he is in command, and his gaffes almost screw up everything.

Utah’s newly appointed Alcoholic Beverage Control director, Salvador Petilos, reminds me of Dwayne.

Just in time for the tens of thousands of out-of-staters coming to Utah this month, the DABC has a new interpretation of a 44-year-old law concerning the requirement that alcohol served in restaurants must be accompanied by food orders.

For decades, restaurants have used the practice, unmolested by liquor law enforcers, of allowing patrons to have a glass of wine while perusing the menu. But now, restaurants are told no wine can be served until the patron has ordered a meal.

That means no areas in restaurants for customers to lounge with an alcoholic drink while waiting for a table.

That means the tens of thousands of people in town this month for the Sundance Film Festival and the Outdoor Retailer trade show will have a negative experience at Utah restaurants — unlike just about anywhere else in the country.

And this comes at the same time Utah economic development officials are doing everything they can to keep the Outdoor Retailer show from jumping to another city in the future.

But, hey, there is a new sheriff in town and he has to show off his moxie.


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Just like Dwayne.

Joke of the day » During the confirmation hearings for Salvador Petilos last fall, Utah senators, weary of the scandals generated by previous DABC leaders, gave the nominee one directive: Keep the DABC out of the news.

It didn’t take long for him to fail on that one.

Free advertising » Jim Fikar sent an email last week to Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, responding to Bird’s proposal that $37 million be diverted to education from state liquor profits and the lawmaker’s comment that "if they have an idea to come up with $37 million in some other way, I’m all ears."

Fikar suggested the Legislature eliminate the child tax credit after the third child. "That way, those burdening the school system with a lot of kids pay their fair share."

Bird responded from his government-issued email account:

"Jim,

Thanks for your email.

Jim Bird

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