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This budget season, New York’s lawmakers have wrestled with familiar issues. Minimum wage, school aid, aid to municipalities and taxes on the rich. For the first time I can remember, they did not discuss wine in grocery stores.

Wegmans, despite its considerable clout and lobbying dollars, has not been able to uncork opposition. A key player has not given any support wine in grocery stores – Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Sign for Whitehouse Liquor in Wegmans

Sign for Whitehouse Liquor in Wegmans

With wine in grocery stores on hiatus, many have speculated Wegmans will try to get the state to allow multiple licenses. Right now, state law allows one liquor store per person and it does not allow chains. Critics say Wegmans has set up a de facto chain using adjacent stores run by various family members. Wegmans advertises for Whitehouse Liquor, which is located next to its Marketplace store. When you visit Century Wines in Pittsford, you’re asked to swipe your Shopper’s Club. This stuff possibly rides the line between what’s legal and what’s not in our tightly regulated liquor market – and it drives independent stores insane.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Wegmans is leading the charge to loosen restrictions on who can sell beer.

Links of the Day:

- A lawsuit alleges Wegmans lent chef David Bouley $7 million to keep his restaurant business afloat.

- Albany police held a training exercise at a housing project – complete with fake blood – and scared the heck out of residents.

- Rochester’s amateur photographers are undercutting the professionals.

- Close to 10 percent of milk produced in New York State goes to the Chobani plant.

- New York farmers are installing wind turbines to protect their apple crops from frost.

- Hudson Valley Community College cut the hours of adjunct instructors to avoid paying them health insurance.

Links of the Day:

- Wegmans is being accused of trying to get around Maryland laws prohibiting grocery stores from having liquor licenses. The chain is opening a store in Columbia that would have a liquor store on the second floor. Ninety-percent of the liquor store would be owned by the husband of Wegmans president Colleen Wegman. The Baltimore Sun looked at the issue:

Wegmans has had to deal with bans on beer and wine sales in other states. In New York, it has rented space to liquor stores for decades at shopping centers it has developed and anchors. In New Jersey, it has subleased space to liquor stores owned by members of the Wegman family.

Each of the liquor stores Wegmans leases space to in New York and New Jersey is independently operated, a company spokeswoman said via email.

“Wegmans receives none of the profits from these stores,” Jeanne Colleluori said. “However they do provide one-stop shopping to Wegmans’ customers, which is our true goal with these types of arrangements.”

(snip)

…others say this is the only way that chains can deal with the often conflicting patchwork of local and state laws they encounter when trying to expand into Maryland.

Smith says the Wegmans chain would have no control, management or ownership at all in the venture. O’Donnell “has a dozen or so other start-up ventures he does on his own,” (the man who will own 10 percent of the Columbia liquor store, Mike) Smith said. “Nobody in Wegmans owns anything in those. I guess (people) aren’t used to couples having two high-powered careers.”

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo is not in favor of wine sales in grocery stores, meaning the status quo is likely to continue for some time.

- Wegmans is not interested in the Albany market.

- A developer wants to put a 107-room Hilton hotel on E. Main Street in Rochester.

- Is the New York State Thruway Authority eyeing a toll hike?

- America has weird place names. But it’s a tradition that’s going away thanks to bland surburbia.

- Butterflies, butterflies everywhere.

Links of the Day:

- Wegmans appears to have lost the fight to get wine in grocery stores – for now. Governor Andrew Cuomo is not in favor of the measure and he’s too powerful to buck. The Democrat and Chronicle reports:

Since 2009, Wegmans has spent millions on a statewide marketing and lobbying campaign advocating this change. This year, Wegmans officials said, the company has backed off on spending in consideration of the governor’s negative views on the subject.

(snip)

(Cuomo) appeared to take the position of the traditionally powerful liquor store lobby, which for more than 30 years has fended off the supermarkets and convenience stores with the argument that the change would be devastating to small business.

(snip)

Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, who has co-sponsored grocery wine legislation, said the proposal isn’t on Cuomo’s agenda, which he said is the prime mover in Albany legislative affairs these days.

So it looks like this issue won’t come up again for a long while.

- Has there been a rush to judgment in the Travon Martin case? Kathleen Parker has a well-reasoned column on the topic. The Los Angeles Times looks into widely-differing media coverage of the case.

- A Syracuse woman’s abdomen caught fire during a C-section. She’s suing.

- The key for cities like Rochester to getting more property tax money is to develop their downtowns.

- How can a blue state like New York elect a red senate? An amazing graphic from the New York Times explains it.

- A Rochester woman recycles shoes…with glitter.

- Good to see Kodak still has its sense of humor. I’m sure no one in this “product division” was laid off recently.