Pure Spirits Michigan Q4 2019 - 11

honey-flavored whiskies were popular, but now you
never see them anymore. People's tastes are trendier
and change faster. You go to the shelves and you'll see
two long rows of beers, and 90 percent are craft.
And that's the third thing: like with craft beers, people want stuff that's locally made, beer especially, and
craft distilleries.

I see you've been in public service for much
of your career. In what way does the work of
the MLCC serve the public?
The first thing you learn when you run for office,
you have to work with everybody. Whether you're a
Democrat or a Republican, once you get elected, people
are going to ask you to do something for them. You have
to be open-minded and an active listener.
Depending on what definition you use, there are
about 20,000 licensees in Michigan, including on-premise and off premise: hotels, aircraft, watercraft, trains,
golf courses, casinos, caterers, resorts, stadiums, microbreweries, brewpubs, brewers, clubs, taverns, wine
makers, small distillers. If you say even an average of
three people employed at each place, that's 60,000 people. So we affect a lot of people's livelihoods.
And our investigators do a really good job of
making sure everyone stays in the parameters.
About 70 percent of people have a drink at least
once a year-it's a good social, recreational thing.
It's like everything else: keep it in check, drink responsibly. Our job is to ensure the public welfare, to
make sure bad players aren't playing and good players stay within the rules.
Plus the Liquor Control Commission makes money
for the state. We sell approximately one billion in distilled spirits annually, so that allows a lot of other programs, not directly related to us, to do well because of
the dollar amounts we create that go to other programs
and into the general fund.

What do you appreciate or enjoy most about
your work?
No one wants to be the disciplinarian, but I actually help a lot of people to apply for licenses. Sometimes,
it could be as simple as a person who never heard of
the process and I'm trying to help them. For the party
store licenses, many people are not born in America,
or English isn't their first language. For a lot of people,

THE FAMILY BUSINESS

their first climb up the ladder is to get into that industry. It's interesting for me because my folks are from
Italy and I'm first generation, so I'm a little more empathetic. I understand that their whole life is wrapped
up in that business.
I also appreciate Gov. Whitmer and the good job
she is doing, and all the people at MLCC and the Commission. I couldn't do it without them. Many on our
staff have more than 20 years of experience in hearings and appeals, as investigators, and in the licensing and finance divisions. As you can imagine, that
it is a lot of moving parts, and they make it work to
deliver the best professional customer service to the
citizens of Michigan and the licensees.

Clemente's Bar & Restaurant
was in Ed Clemente's family for
70 years, providing the
commissioner with valuable
background for his position.

How has your early experience working at
Clemente's, your family restaurant, bar and
bowling alley in Lincoln Park, helped in your
role with the Commission?
We had the business for over 70 years, and we only
had two minor violations in those 70 years. We never
had intoxication issues and never sold to minors or anything like that, so I know you can run a business right,
even being immigrants. So though I'm empathetic, I
also know you can do it right.

I understand you've had a lot of experience
playing rugby, too.
I played for 30 years. I quit when I was 50 after I tore
my bicep tackling a 19-year-old kid. It's a pretty unique
sport, with a lot of camaraderie. I traveled to about 75
countries. It really opened up my eyes to the world. I
still help coach.

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER | JANUARY 2020 11



Pure Spirits Michigan Q4 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pure Spirits Michigan Q4 2019

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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/MSA_Pure_Spirits_2019_Q4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/MSA_Pure_Spirits_2019_Q2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/MSA_Pure_Spirits_2018_Q4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/MSA_Pure_Spirits_2018_Q2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/MSA_Pure_Spirits_2017_Q4
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