Burns shares results of LCB public information battle

‘They made me go all the way to the Supreme Court for this?’

EBENSBURG, May 17 – As a public service and to underscore the arrogance of the Liquor Control Board, state Rep. Frank Burns is sharing the results of his costly, protracted legal battle with the state agency.

The one-page information sheet shows that as of Jan. 1, the LCB was holding 949 liquor licenses available for auction, ranging from a high of 167 in Philadelphia County to a low of zero in 22 others. Burns’ home county of Cambria has 48, which is sixth highest in the state.

Given the relative simplicity of the information provided, Burns remains baffled as to why the LCB forced him to go all the way to the state Supreme Court to get it. Without using taxpayer money, Burns continued the public information battle as the LCB appealed every ruling in Burns’ favor, from the state Office of Open Records and Commonwealth Court to the Supreme Court.

“The LCB’s big ‘trade secret’ that it sought to shield from view at all costs turns out to be one page of numbers that could have been produced in two minutes,” Burns said. “All I wanted was to know how many licenses were available for auction in each county. They made me go all the way to the Supreme Court for this?”

Burns said he is posting the now public LCB “trade secrets” on his state website so the media and the public can determine for themselves whether the LCB was justified in the extreme measures undertaken to block its release.

“I’ve said all along that, as a state representative, I needed to know these numbers in order to do my job,” Burns said. “How can we, as a legislative body, know whether to authorize new LCB licenses in a specific geographic area when we don’t know how many are already available there?”

Burns said the entire ordeal – as well as finally having the numbers in hand – has opened his eyes to ways to curb the LCB’s arrogance, make it more responsive to such requests, and fix the licensing system so it is less self-serving to the LCB and more responsive to the needs of existing license holders.

“I asked for this information for very valid reasons – and I think that’s why they worked so hard to stymie my effort,” Burns said. “Now that the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, there’s more to come.”