An Apology To FACT

I wish to apologize for stating that there was a direct link between FACT and the American Beverage Institute and have redacted the offending content. While the both oppose the proposed drink tax, they are not the same organization. A hasty reading of a Tribune Review article led to some confusion, which is easy for me. It was not my intention to deceive anyone. Fortunately, no one reads this blog anyhow. Another bit of confusion is whether the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, whose Chairman of the Board, Kevin Joyce, seems to regard the American Beverage Institute and Rick Berman with disdain, links to them on their website? I’d feel even sillier if they were indirectly funding the same campaign. I also hope that Mr. Berman’s feelings wouldn’t be hurt.

A google search for stopdrinktax.com and American Beverage Institute turn out some computer gibberish that creates the appearance of a link between the two, but it is just computer gibberish:

the American Beverage Institute, and Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation throughout Allegheny County to go to www.stopdrinktax.com.
http://www.stopdrinktax.com/stopdrinktax3.swf

Overpriced restaurant alcohol is still a luxury item, and the food service industry still exacts a high social cost. I still don’t care if wealthy people have to pay $88 for that $80 bottle of wine or the underage college students have to pay a little more for their 1/2 price frozen margaritas. I’m more concerned with the interests of my social class.

Again, I wish the politicians had proposed a different solution for the funding, but those aren’t my politicians, they belong to business interests and their lobbies.

I am truly sorry for any confusion I may have caused and I hope that your financial situation improves.

Sincerely,

Arson Daily

Here’s Mr. Joyce’s reply

As a guy that sits on the Executive Committee of FACT and am the 2007 Chairman of the Board of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, I can tell you that Rick Berman and ABI have absolutely nothing to do with FACT. No contributions, nothing. FACT was set up entirely by many of us local restaurteurs who have been meeting weekly and actively fighting this unfair tax. Arson’s entire diatribe is based on fantasy. The signs that are seen in Chelsa’s window were probably paid for by me, as I put up the first $5,000 in printing to get us started. Later the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association kicked in $20,000 and we have passed the hat. Our $40,000 billboard campaign (25 billboards went up November 5) were financed entirely by passiing the hat with nuberous restsaurants and related businesses contributing their Greenapple trade dollars. This fight has been exhausiting and has kept many of us away from our businesses. The Finance Committee of Council has met Tues thru Thrusday the last few weeks and there are many of us there nightly. This is a grassroots fight and we are up against very powerful forces including the Allegheny Conference and the Dan Onorato machine.

From my perspective, as a guy that has kept his doors open and employed 50-80 folks for the past 23 years in One Mellon Center, this fight is about my businesses survival. If I do not survive, my longterm employees lose thier jobs and yes thier health benefits. I hate the fact that a family health insureanc pollicy has now escalated to $1396 a month and that many of my employees cannot afford their share. I am very nearly at the point where I will not be able to afford the employer share. If this tax becomes a reality, it will be the final straw for many businesses that are just getting by. Believe me, in our industry in this region, that is the state for many.

I am glad that Arson never worked for me. Yes, it is a tough industry and the hours can be more than difficult. But there is something wonderful about serving people and being there for the good times in their life. It gets in you blood. When I walked into a county club at age 14 looking for a job, I could not of imagined that I would never leave the hospitality industry. But it gets in your blood. There are plenty of great lifes and careeers that have started in the hospitality industy and there are plenty of folks that have been uplifted by their time served in our industry. I am sorroy that Arson had such a poor experience.

However, no Rick Berman or ABI. I look forward to reading the retraction and the apology.

Below is an email from El Presdiente of FACT Sean Casey:

 
 

 

Just a quick update about FACT. It was founded by local Pittsburgers with zero input from ABI and not one penny has been contributed from any of your alleged corporate lists. None of the large national chains listed has contributed a cent or sat in on a meeting with us – your corporate chains are paralyzed to act by corporate bureacracy. Futhermore, why should they act; local operators without national buying power will be knocked out of business futher benefiting the groups Rick Berman supports gaining yet more tenacles into society. Several of the founders of FACT were not members of PRA/NRA (Restaraunt Associations) as they did not support the more conservative positions supported by those organizations.

Enough Studies have shown a 10% hike in alchololic beverages impacts consumer consumption by 5%. That 5% reduction will carry through to a 45% hit on bottom line profits in my operations, taking a 45% hit on profits is very problematic and will likely result in eliminating health benefits offered to my employees or destroying a simple IRA plan established for them. Our county employees are asked to pay a minute 1% of their health care costs, its tough but I manage to pay 50% for my employees. In order to keep funding the huge county pension plans and 1% benefits, I’ll likely have to eliminate the benefits that I have fought so hard to implement in my own establishment for my own employees.

If yor whiney ass is so intent on killing off the locally owned hospitality operators and supporting mis managed government, go register to speak at county council. Take the effort, act like a real person and stand out and speak out in front of county Council. Don’t be a lame ass and just bitch on the web, Step out and up like a real Citizen & tell myself and county council on transcribed record why we are pawns of a massive cigarette lobbyist and this tax is a good idea.

Sean Casey – Owner of The Church Brew Works and President of FACT

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1 Comment

  1. Whoops. Well, I’m guessing that I can least rest assured that it wasn’t my comment on your earlier post that tipped them off to your error. None of it changes the fact that you are right and they are wrong on this issue.

    They may be up against the Allegheny Conference this time, but that is only part of the story. The Allegheny Conference’s support for the drink tax is strongly conditional not only on the fare increases that the riders are now going to have to endure, but on major concessions from the Port Authority workers. Mike Langley lays out this position in the Pittsburgh Business Times this week. So the Downtown Partnership, and some of the smaller members of one of the Allegheny Conference affiliates (the Chamber of Commerce) are against this because it impacts their business directly, but the mainstream of the capitalist class is willing to institute a new (admittedly regressive sin) tax so long as workers also take it on the chin. I can see where the petty bourgeoisie thinks that they’re the victims in all of this standing up against the big dogs, but they’re not the real victims in all of this, and their poignant tear-jerker stories about how they’re going to go out of business are reminiscent of their whining every time the minimum wage goes up — and local activists will also remember their involvement in sinking the Living Wage ordinance, in which fight they and the Allegheny Conference were on the same side. Seriously, fuck the Restaurant Association — the fact that they can do shit like this without Rick Berman’s assistance is only proof of what money-grubbing assholes they can be on their own.

    As for the bigger fight between ATU and Onorato/Allegheny Conference, I think it is going to be a major fight. I hate to be one of those leftists on the sidelines calling for hyper-militant action, but when you’re in a direct fight with the Allegheny Conference like this, and the whole political establishment is against you, and the governor is not even remotely sympathetic, I don’t see how ATU members protect their standards without at least the credible threat of a strike. Unfortunately it won’t be popular with the public at large, but it does have a chance of making big business scream when they can’t get their workers into town on time, and that may be the only way to win.


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