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Poll: N.C. residents want joint control of ABC system

The majority of North Carolina residents don't want the state to completely privatize the state-run liquor system, according to a poll released Friday.

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ABC store sign, Alcoholic Beverage Control
RALEIGH, N.C. — The majority of North Carolina residents don't want the state to completely privatize the state-run liquor system, according to a poll released Friday.

The Elon University Poll surveyed 579 people statewide Sunday through Wednesday on a range of issues, from the Alcoholic Beverage Control system to health care reform to government accessibility. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

One-third of respondents said private companies should control liquor sales in North Carolina, while another third said the state should control the system and 23 percent said local governments should be in charge.

Lawmakers two weeks ago formed a committee to study possible reforms to the ABC system in the wake of scandals in both Mecklenburg and New Hanover counties.

WRAL Investigates reported that the former New Hanover County ABC board administrator made $244,000 a year, and his son earned $135,000 as his assistant. The Mecklenburg County ABC had to repay $9,000 to a liquor company that had picked up the tab for an expensive holiday dinner for board members, employees and their families.

When asked to rate their preference on a scale of 1 to 10 about control of the ABC system, 31 percent chose "equal state and private-sector involvement." Twenty-nine percent were on the side of the scale leaning toward private management of the system, with 12.6 percent saying liquor distribution and sales should be handled solely by businesses. Thirty-three percent of respondents were on the side of the scale favoring government control, with 17.6 percent saying business should play no role in the system.

“Residents are mixed in their assessments about who should control the ABC system and basically endorse some sort of joint public-private venture for it,” Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll, said in a statement. “Citizens do not want to remove government entirely from the equation and are also not ready to abdicate complete control of the ABC system to the private sector.”

Sentiment on the issue of health care reform has remained relatively unchanged since Elon surveyed residents last fall. While most respondents believe the nation's health care system is broken, they are evenly split on the the concept of a national insurance plan and only a slight majority favor the so-called public option, which provides subsidized coverage to individuals who cannot obtain private health insurance.

On the issue of open government, those surveyed were more aware of North Carolina laws allowing public access to government records, information and meetings than they were a year ago. Seventy-four percent of respondents said such access is “very important,” while 83 percent feel open records and meetings keep government operations honest.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents rejected the notion that closed records and meetings allow government to get things done more effectively. While the majority of resident advocate for government transparency, 78 percent feel exceptions should be made if such action will aid the war on terrorism.


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