Edward Conley, 67, retired editor and senior communications specialist for the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) passed away suddenly on January 29, 2017.
Conley retired from PFMA in 2005 after more than 25 years of service. He served as editor of the association’s former newspaper, The Food Industry Advisor, and was instrumental in growing the publication from a newsletter to a monthly newspaper. Through the years, Conley covered many industry events, store openings and profiled companies and executives.
He organized PFMA’s Pennsylvania Best Bagger Championship and was actively involved with the DECA Marketing Clubs, where he judged state competitions for students considering business careers. He served as president and a director for the Pittsburgh Association of Manufacturers Representatives (PAMR). Following his retirement, he remained active in PAMR by attending their meetings and producing the group’s event programs.
Prior to joining PFMA, Conley served as editor of Tri-State Food News, the Steel City Sports/Score weekly magazine and the University of Pittsburgh Athletic Department. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army and a graduate of the Defense Information School. During his service, he worked with an elite unit of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command where he directed creation of unique displays used by recruiters across the country.
Conley received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
He was an avid sports fan and was very loyal to his hometown teams the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates and Penguins. He was a devoted father to his three children Lauren (David), Brennan and Kerry Conley. His children and his brother Joseph Conley (Carol) survive him.
A memorial luncheon for family and friends was held at Club 3000 at PNC Park on Wednesday, February 1. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations go to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, 1 North Linden Street, Duquesne, PA 15110 or https://www.pittsburghfoodbank.org.
Meagan Thorpe recently joined PFMA as association services manager. She researches legislative and regulatory issues, serves as a liaison to communicate emergency planning issues, manages the association’s committees and provide government relations coverage in the monthly newsletter and weekly e-newsletter communications. In addition, she will assist with the planning and educational programming for the PFMA Annual Conference, Fall Legislative Conference and webinars.
Thorpe joins PFMA following five years with the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Most recently, she worked as a district director for former Senator Rob Teplitz and as a constituent outreach specialist for former state Representative Glen Grell. Prior to that, she worked on event and fundraising planning for the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Campaign Committee and the Pennsylvania Republican Party.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Shippensburg University. She serves on the board of directors and communications committee for the Tri-County Community Action.
Governor Tom Wolf signed an Emergency Proclamation and implemented travel restrictions as Pennsylvania residents prepare for Winter Storm "Stella." The proclamation is not a "state of emergency." It does not prohibit vehicular travel on Commonwealth roads. Motorists are strongly encouraged to delay all unnecessary travel and heed local road closures that may be in place. A proclamation ensures emergency resources can be procured as needed and increases protections for consumers from price-gouging.
Starting at 10 p.m. tonight, the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center at PEMA will be activated with personnel from the following agncies: PEMA, Public Utility Commission, PA State Police, American Red Cross, PA Turnpike Commission, Office of Administration, and the departments of Health, Human Services, and Military and Veterans Affairs.
Also today, PEMA activated the situational awareness unit of the Pennsylvania Business Operations Center. As the storm unfolds, the Pa. Business Operations Center will provide information to businesses regarding impacts of the event including road restrictions, Commonwealth Response Coordination Center situation reports, and updated weather forecasts. The information is intended to help businesses plan for and recover from anticipated severe weather.
In the event travel is absolutely necessary, motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles by visiting http://www.511PA.com.
In response to Mayor Kenney’s baseless attacks on Philadelphia businesses and families, the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association has released the following statement:
“The mayor’s approach of attacking Philadelphia families and businesses whose livelihood is threatened by his beverage tax is shameful. It’s time for the mayor and members of his administration to stop the personal attacks, and own up to the pain his regressive tax is inflicting on the people of Philadelphia. From day one, we offered to work with the mayor to find a way to fund his initiatives that wouldn’t raise prices on working families and cost Philadelphia jobs. He refused, and is now peddling a false narrative to shift the rising tide of discontent with the tax away from himself and onto the city’s distributors and retailers. The fact is that his policies have already caused Philadelphians to lose their jobs, and that more jobs are at stake as sales have dropped precipitously in the city. The fact is that Philadelphia supermarkets and corner stores are being forced to reduce employee hours, and are in danger of closing, threatening the City’s efforts to bring fresh groceries into food deserts. The fact is that this tax has caused prices to skyrocket on thousands of beverages, which in turn has forced hard-working families to shop outside the city or pay drastically higher prices. The fact is that nearly 60 percent of Philadelphia voters oppose this tax. And the fact is that the mayor could stop the pain right now if he only listened to Philadelphia families and businesses, and repealed this misguided, harmful tax. He needs to stop pointing fingers at others for his actions, and own up to the damage his policies are causing real people. This damage is the fault of the mayor and City Council, no one else.”
Fact checking the mayor
Here are some falsehoods the mayor and his administration have been repeating recently, as well as the facts which undercut their claims:
• CLAIM: “They’re gouging their own customers.”
FACT: In a recent op-ed, St. Joseph’s University economist John Stanton explained that supermarkets were forced to pass the tax onto consumers, because of the way the industry functions and because the tax is so high: “The profit margins are already extremely low in the supermarket business, and this could have a significant impact on the ability to stay in business. A number of city supermarkets have closed in the last few years. This new tax has the potential to exacerbate the situation, and make city food shopping more difficult.”
• CLAIM: “Since it is not a sales tax, distributors … do not have to pass it down to their customers, the dealers.”
FACT: WHYY recently interviewed Andy Pincus, who owns Carbonator Rental Services, a Southwest Philadelphia small business that sells syrup to restaurants: “Depending on whether it's his own label or a national brand like Coca-Cola, Pincus charges anywhere from $60 to $90 per box [of syrup].But now, every time he sells one to a customer in Philadelphia, Pincus owes the city $57.60 in taxes.
‘We're not talking about a couple of bucks on a $60 item,’ he said. ‘We're talking about $57.60 on a $60 item. It's too big not to pass on.’
• CLAIM: "Jeff Brown and some of those groups out there jacked up prices beyond what the tax calls for. They started collecting the tax four days before the tax went into effect. They've been stockpiling product from June to January. They are charging the tax at point-of-sale, which it was never intended to do. And they're putting the money in their pockets."
FACT: Supermarkets don’t have the warehouse capacity to stockpile months’ worth of beverages, many of which require expensive refrigeration. Many taxed beverages also have expiration dates, which make it impossible to store these beverages for extended periods of time.
Moreover, Jeff Brown has focused his career on providing employment opportunities and second chances for people with prior criminal records, and has expanded grocery access in inner-city urban food deserts. As noted by Larry Platt in a recent Philadelphia Citizen article:
“Sugary drinks, it turns out, only make up 4 percent of Brown’s bottom line; he could withstand its 40 percent decline in sales. But, so far, when his customers cross City Line Avenue to get soda, many are also doing all their shopping there. So Brown’s stores are down 15 percent overall, in a business famous for its tight margins. That’s not sustainable, he says; he’s already had to cut between 5,000 and 6,000 hours of employment each week, the equivalent of 280 jobs. If things continue, he may have to join PepsiCo and lay off workers. … Make no mistake, Jeff Brown doesn’t just open super markets. He employs our citizens and he posits a way to think about what it means to be part of a community, which is why it’s so striking that the Mayor is critical of him.”
• CLAIM: "I didn't think it was possible for the soda industry to be any greedier. They are so committed to stopping this tax from spreading to other cities, that they are not only passing the tax they should be paying onto their customer, they are actually willing to threaten working men and women's jobs rather than marginally reduce their seven figure bonuses."
FACT: The mayor’s tax of 1.5 cents per ounce has forced supermarkets, corner stores, restaurants and other Philadelphia businesses to drastically raise the price of thousands of drinks. This has caused beverage sales to drop by 40 to 50 percent in just three months. These new sales levels have forced businesses across the city to restructure, resulting in layoffs. The mayor should stop blaming businesses for the effects of his new taxes – effects that we made him well aware of before it was passed. As noted in a recent article in Bloomberg news: “Canada Dry Delaware Valley -- a local distributor of Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Sunkist, A&W Root Beer, Arizona Iced Tea and Vita Coco -- said business fell 45 percent in Philadelphia in the first five weeks of 2017, compared with the same period last year. Total revenue at Brown’s Super Stores, which operates 12 ShopRite and Fresh Grocer supermarkets, fell 15 percent at its six retailers in the city.” • CLAIM: “If you don’t want to buy [taxed beverages], don’t buy it, and if you want to go buy it in the suburbs, go buy it.”
FACT: Actually, the mayor is right on this one. Since his regressive tax was put in place, beverage sales have dropped by up to 50 percent in Philadelphia, and increased by about 20 percent in nearby suburban communities. Those sales declines are why businesses are being forced to cut hours and lay off employees – and the mayor is encouraging people to continue shopping outside the city, which will only make the problem worse. Or, as a recent Washington Times editorial noted: “If His Honor had not slept through Econ 101, he would have learned that taxes and other costs of doing business are always passed on to consumers. Money grows on trees only at City Hall.”
Harrisburg – Following validation of 90 bids received by the March 3 deadline for the second restaurant license auction authorized by Act 39 of 2016, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) this week issued Notices of Selection to top bidders on 42 licenses.
Winning bids range from $25,001 for a license in Lower Yoder Township, Cambria County, to $463,802 for a license in Abington Township, Montgomery County. The average winning bid in the second auction was $119,315.
The number of bids received for each of the 42 licenses receiving bids ranged from one to five.
Seven licenses – one each in Beaver, Carbon, Franklin, Greene, Mifflin, Pike, and Wayne counties – received no bids, and the single bid for the license in Northumberland County was disqualified for being under $25,000.
Top bidders have 14 days from the date of each Notice of Selection to remit full bid payment to the PLCB. If bid payment is not received within two weeks of auction award, the second-highest bidder will have opportunity to remit their full bid payment.
Once bid payment is received, each auction winner has six months to file a license application with the PLCB. Bids will be held in escrow by the PLCB, pending approval of the license application.
Revenue from this auction cannot be totaled until license approvals are granted and bids come out of escrow.
This auction included 50 licenses across 48 counties:
One license in each of 40 counties that were not represented in the first auction, including Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Berks, Bradford, Cambria, Carbon, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Elk, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Lebanon, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Venango, Warren, Wayne, and Wyoming counties.
Two licenses each in Philadelphia and Allegheny County, where multiple bids were received in the first auction for each license made available.
One license in each of six counties where bids demonstrated high demand in the first auction: Chester, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, and York counties.
Statewide, about 1,200 licenses that have expired since 2000 will be made available through auctions in the coming months and years.
The PLCB regulates the distribution of beverage alcohol in Pennsylvania, operates more than 600 wine and spirits stores statewide, and licenses 20,000 alcohol producers, retailers, and handlers. The PLCB also works to reduce and prevent dangerous and underage drinking through partnerships with schools, community groups, and licensees. Taxes and store profits – totaling $15.1 billion since the agency’s inception – are returned to Pennsylvania’s General Fund, which finances Pennsylvania’s schools, health and human services programs, law enforcement, and public safety initiatives, among other important public services. The PLCB also provides financial support for the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, other state agencies, and local municipalities across the state. For more information about the PLCB, visit www.lcb.pa.gov.