Thursday, February 18, 2016

All Tapped Out

This will be my final post of the evening as I head out....

"Are Boston’s dive bars disappearing?" by Beth Teitell Globe Staff  February 18, 2016

One by one, Boston is losing its dive bars.

Look around the city at the glossy new buildings and companies and it’s easy to see what’s knocking over the worn bar stools: rising rents, land values, and changing tastes and demographics.

It’s also easy to see what’s being lost: a place where neighborhood folks can feel comfortable just being themselves, where they can meet casually — without worrying about drinking and driving and parking — and without having to spend an hour’s take-home pay for a glass of beer.

There’s no definitive tally of Boston’s dive bar die-off, but here’s what is known: Between 2011, when writer Luke O’Neil published “Boston’s Best Dive Bars,” and last month, when two obsessed readers completed a crawl of almost all the bars listed, about 20 of the 70 or so Boston dives closed.

“The outward pressure is building,” said Jonathan Martin, a consultant who helps restaurants find space and negotiate leases. “Costs are going up, and revenues aren’t keeping pace.” 

It's a change of climate in Bo$ton.

In neighborhoods where real estate is hot, such as South Boston and the Fenway, restaurants are paying in excess of $50 per square foot per year in rent — a 75 percent increase from five years ago, said Martin, a managing director with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a commercial real estate advisory firm.

That’s just one cost, among many, that are hard for dive bar owners to make up, he said. “You can’t charge $22 for a plate of wings.”

As longtime owners age along with their bars and turning a profit gets harder, there’s an incentive to liquidate a lucrative asset while real estate is booming, said Kristen Scanlon, an attorney who specializes in liquor licensing and permitting....


So what would you like to drink?

"State hits beer distributor with 90-day license suspension" by Dan Adams and Megan Woolhouse Globe Staff  February 12, 2016

The state’s largest distributor of craft beers has been slapped with an unprecedented 90-day license suspension by the state for paying Boston bars tens of thousands of dollars to carry its beers and freeze out competitors.

The state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission said the Craft Brewers Guild of Everett spent around “$120,000 to pay kickbacks” to a dozen Boston-area establishments “in a pervasive illegal enterprise’’ that spanned at least five years.

Craft Brewers Guild distributes dozens of specialty beers, from major brewers such as Yuengling and Lagunitas, and from local companies, including Wachusett Brewing Co. and Ipswich Ale Brewery. Craft Brewers is a subsidiary of the Sheehan Family Cos., which is based in Massachusetts and operates 19 beer distributors in 13 states.

Craft Brewers would not say if it would appeal, but issued a statement promising that consumers would not be affected by the decision. It can fight the ruling in court, or instead pay a fine equal to about half its profits for the 90-day period.

The case against Craft Brewers Guild highlights the practice of “pay to play” in the beer industry that some critics insist is rampant but seldom punished — making the size of the penalty imposed this week all the more striking.

Paying for product placement is not uncommon in other retail sectors, such as grocery stores, where big distributors pay for eye-catching shelf space for cat food, cereal, and other merchandise.

But the practice of “pay to play” was banned in the alcohol industry by many states at the end of Prohibition to keep large national brands from dominating local markets.

“Wow, I did not see a decision of that magnitude coming down the pike,” said Rob Martin, president of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild, a trade group, and owner of Ipswich Ale Brewery.

Martin said most brewers typically use a single distributor and would prefer not to switch to a competitor.

“There are plenty of other distributorships, but consumer choice is hurt for sure because it puts brewers in a place where they couldn’t move product,” Martin said.

The ABCC has also charged five bars with violating pay-to-play regulations for improperly accepting payments from Craft Brewers Guild:

■ Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill, in the Seaport District, owned by the Cronin Group.

■ Estelle’s, a now-closed South End bar owned by the Wilcox Group.

■ Gather, in the Seaport, owned by the Briar Group.

■ Game On Fenway, a bar near Fenway Park owned by the Lyons Group.

■ Coogan’s, in the Financial District, owned by the Glynn Hospitality Group.

The bars are due to argue their case before the ABCC commissioners later this month. Possible punishments include fines, suspensions, or revocation of their licenses.

No brewers have been cited in the investigation.

The ABCC inquiry began in October 2014, when Dann Paquette of craft beer company Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project Inc. complained about the practice on Twitter. Investigators later obtained bills that Craft Brewers Guild had sent to Pretty Things for the cost of payments the distributor made to bars that agreed to stock Paquette’s beer.

“We hope this ruling will be the beginning of a wider investigation into illegal pay-to-play practices in the alcohol industry in Massachusetts,” Paquette said in a statement. He has since closed Pretty Things.

Marc Berkowitz, whose Sunset Grill & Tap in Allston gets more than one-third of its 113 craft beers on tap from Craft Brewers Guild, said pay-to-play bans are outdated.

He said the alcohol industry should be allowed to operate in a way similar to food stores and other consumer businesses, in which paying for shelf space is legal and common.

“I think the decision is unnecessary and unfortunate,” Berkowitz said.

But Jamie Walsh, bar manager at Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale in Downtown Crossing, said the case shows the need for more enforcement so small brewers aren’t shut out of the market.

“Make it fair so that it allows the independent craft brewers have a level playing field, so that there’s a level playing field for everybody,” he said....


So what happened last night?

"Congressman Lynch wary of Trump candidacy" by Travis Andersen Globe Staff   January 15, 2016

US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, the veteran congressman, emphatically stated that the Democratic candidate he supports, Hillary Clinton, does not have the same authenticity problems that have plagued some of her rivals.

“Hillary’s the real deal,” Lynch said of the former secretary of state.

He credited Clinton with helping to negotiate the release in 2011 of a CIA officer who fatally shot two men in Pakistan, allegedly after they tried to rob him at gunpoint.

Must be referring to Al-CIA-Duh agent Raymond Davis.

“Hillary Clinton went in there and very deftly and very courageously negotiated his release,” Lynch told Joshua Miller, the Globe’s host of “Happy Hour.”

The congressman, a ranking member of a national security committee who has made dozens of trips to the Middle East, was also asked if the Islamic State can be defeated and if President Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry have a plan for victory.

“I do think that they can be defeated,” Lynch replied. “It’s going to require internal pressure within the Muslim community as well as killing the bad guys. ... I think that [Obama and Kerry] have articulated a cause in terms of why we need to disassemble and destroy ISIL, and why it’s advantageous for the free world to do so. I am not sure they’ve articulated a plan to do so.”

Lynch reiterated his opposition to using ground troops to defeat the Islamic State and said he believes fixing war-torn Syria, where the group has a foothold, could take 20 years.

He said the United States and its Western allies need input from Arab countries and that if Syrian President Bashar Assad is ousted or steps down, the nation will require a caretaker government until the Syrian people can assemble their own democratic system.

“You don’t export democracy through the Defense Department,” said Lynch, who conceded that he would not have voted in 2002 to authorize military force against Iraq if he knew that intelligence reports about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction were false. 

Well, we all knew out here, Steve! That's why we protested! And if we knew.... !!!

Regarding another security issue, Lynch explained why he and several colleagues are pressing to declassify a section of a congressional report on the Sept. 11 terror attacks that he says demonstrates the complicity of certain Saudi individuals and entities in the plot.

See: 9/11 Lynch Mob 

Oh, he's another Israeli tool in Congre$$, what a surprise.

“I think it would cause us to become more judicious, more thorough, more thoughtful, and more vigilant in our own defense,” he said.

Turning to local issues, Lynch welcomed the news that General Electric is moving to Boston’s Seaport district and said, “I give Mayor [Martin J.] Walsh and Governor [Charlie] Baker great credit for that.”

Lynch, a former labor leader, called GE a “great corporate citizen.”


What a $ell out!

Asked about US Senator Elizabeth Warren’s past criticism of the company for paying “nothing in taxes,” Lynch said he has clashed with GE in the past, including when they closed a plant in his district in Avon, though he credited the firm with offering the workers jobs in other locations and adding positions in the state’s life sciences industry.

“They’re going to have to pay their fair share in taxes,” Lynch said. “But I also think they are net contributors in terms of jobs.”

Actually, they will argue about it before they get all the money back plus billions in tax loot subsidies after leaving a mess

Yeah, great corporate citizens they!

During a lighter segment of the program, Lynch said he is a Globe subscriber and joked that delivery “has been very poor” of late, referencing the newspaper’s recent delivery woes....


Last delivery I saw regarding that situation.


For the ride homeMarijuana activist Bill Downing faces criminal charges

It was all legal?