By Terri Jo Neff |
Gov. Doug Ducey announced Thursday that Tracy Uffelman is the new director of the state’s beleaguered Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, just weeks before the entry period opens for the Arizona Liquor License Lottery which will facilitate more to-go liquor services.
“I am delighted to appoint Tracy as director, and look forward to working with him to best serve our businesses and constituents,” said Ducey, who highlighted Uffelman’s more than 50 years of liquor industry experience dating back to 1969 when he started as a wine merchandiser.
Over the years, Uffelman has held a variety of positions ranging from sales to management. He is also well-versed in the political end of the business, having served as vice president of legislative and community relations for Alliance Beverage, a company he worked at for 23 years.
“Our team will work hard to foster economic growth, expand opportunities for businesses of all sizes and Arizonans, and protect public safety,” Uffelman said of DLLC in a press release.
Ducey’s announcement comes more than five months after former Director John Cocca and Deputy Director Michael Rosenberger resigned following an internal affairs review into the handling of a complaint against a DLLC detective’s conduct during an undercover investigation at a Scottsdale strip club last year.
An 815-page report of the matter was released in July, detailing how DLLC’s investigators got involved in public health issues such as whether adult-oriented businesses that held liquor licenses were violating COVID-19 protocols.
After Cocca and Rosenberger quietly resigned in April, Ducey appointed Col. Heston Silbert as DLLC’s interim director since April. Silbert, the head of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, reported in June that DLLC is “significantly underfunded” for its mission and was experiencing several “administrative challenges.”
Uffelman Concerns about how Arizona’s liquor industry is being regulated and overseen does not end at just the department. It also reaches the State Liquor Board, which has authority to approve, deny, or revoke a liquor license.
Such decisions were determined at the Liquor Board’s June, August, and September meetings by three members, the only active members at that time despite the fact Arizona law calls for a seven-member board. A fourth member is now listed on the department’s website.
Board members are appointed by the Governor and then confirmed by the Senate, with each member serving a three-year term. State law also calls for five of the seven members to have no financial interest “directly or indirectly” in a business licensed to deal with spirituous liquors.
Currently only two of the four members -Chairman Troy Campbell and Member Janice Pernice- are listed as having no financial interest, while Vice Chair Lynn Shulman listed as a retailer and Member Matt Roemer is a wholesaler.
Attention must also be paid to the political affiliation of members as well as county of residence. Three of the four members listed on the website reside in Maricopa County, the limit under state law.