After a two year study, a commission evaluating the State Liquor Authority has concluded that the SLA is highly dysfunctional. It's no shocker; the SLA has been mired in scandal forever, with investigations into alleged bribery and questionable favors doled out by the Governor to the top commissioners. In May, SLA chairman Daniel Boyle was ousted, weeks after the SLA Harlem office was raided by investigators on orders from the state Inspector General.
As any barkeep or restaurateur will tell you, getting a liquor license in New York is a bureaucratic nightmare (cf. Papacitos), and the first part of the two-part report from by the State Law Revision Commission confirms this, concluding that the SLA "jeopardizes public health and safety and exacerbates the economic crisis currently plaguing New York." The commission found, among other things, a nine-month backlog of 3,000 liquor-license applications awaiting processing, with at least 150 new applications added to the pile every month.
According to the report, there's also "extremely low" morale among the bureaucrats because of the Sisyphean mountains of applications that must be entered into computers by hand. At one office, the voicemail system was simply turned off because of the overwhelming number of calls! Ultimately, the commission found a "lax" culture that allows corruption to flourish. So they're proposing a complete overhaul of the SLA, including streamlined regulation, faster license approvals and enhanced enforcement. But at the same time, the commission admits that reforming the SLA is one "herculean" task.