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Tim Carman and the Washington City Paper have done us all a public service by exposing the byzantine government-run alcohol distribution system that exists in Montgomery County (“Pain in the Glass,” 2/9). Finally a bright light has been shone on a broken system that results in higher prices and worse selection for wine consumers, lost time and money for small business owners, and less economic development for the county as a whole.
While Citronelle’s Mark Slater wonders “why the citizens of the county even let that stuff go on,” the fact is that most citizens don’t have the time or gumption to figure out why wine prices are higher at restaurants in Montgomery County, why there aren’t more wine shops, and why they have to drive across the county to find a county-run liquor store. This, in addition to the fact that they can’t buy beer and wine at the grocery store or order wine online from finewine.com. What many consumers do know is that it’s easier and cheaper to buy beer and wine in Virginia and the District, so they do.

There is a consumer movement afoot, however, to change all of this—to bring Maryland’s beer and wine laws into the 21st century. If we have it our way, fine wines in Montgomery County won’t cost any more than they do in the District, wine and beer will be sold a few aisles down from the steak and seafood at the grocery store, and we’ll be able to get fine wines shipped direct to our doorsteps from wineries around the world. To paraphrase Citronelle’s Mark Slater, we citizens aren’t going to let these stupid laws go on any more.

Scott Ehlers
Executive Director
Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws
Hyattsville, Md.

For years I have railed against the horrible selection of wine at the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control. I knew that the county controlled things with an iron fist. I would read about a great wine in the Wall Street Journal, run down to my local DLC outlet in Kensington, and be met with blank stares when I requested wine I had read about. I knew a private business would jump through hoops to meet my requests.

Now I know the real truth, and it is worse than I could ever imagine. Kudos to you for getting Jeff Black to speak so candidly. I regularly dine at all of his restaurants.

Chris Barker
Kensington, Md.

Jailhouse Rank

I would like to comment on “Pen and Stink” (2/2). Why is there so much concern for the U.S. Marshals—what about the inmates? They are people, too, and they should not have to sit in a stinky rotgut hold just because they have committed a crime. You see, the justice system has always been biased only with the Afro-American men. It is a shame the way the government treats these people. Some dogs get better treatment than they do. Poor guys, may God be with them, all that have to put up with that stink.

Shelia Ray
Capitol Heights, Md.