Montgomery County Liquor Board Chief ‘moving on’

WASHINGTON — Some bar and restaurant owners were left high and dry over the recent holiday season when Montgomery County’s Department of Liquor Control failed to make timely deliveries.

Now the head of the department, George Griffin, is out of a job.

In a memo to the Department of Liquor Control staff, the county’s chief administrative officer Timothy Firestine wrote Friday that Griffin was “moving on,” after 21 years of service to the county. Firestine also noted “significant accomplishments” during Griffin’s tenure.

The county is the wholesale distributor for all alcohol in the county and it also operates the county-run liquor stores.

Montgomery County Councilman Hans Riemer says some bars and restaurants have complained that the liquor control board has not been a reliable business partner.

“The outgoing director is a great guy and had a very long run there. But I think it will be welcome news to a lot of the businesses that rely upon that department to function like a business,” Riemer says.

Critics of the county operations say the department’s problems with distribution point to the folly of having government rather than the private sector in charge of liquor sales.

Riemer has proposed legislation that would partly privatize county liquor operations but says the county would stand to lose millions of dollars if it got out of the booze business.

“There are other folks who say, ‘Why don’t you just get out of the whole business.’ I think a lot of people would like to do that.” But Riemer says doing so would cost the county $34 million to $35 million.”

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