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September 26, 2012 | last updated September 26, 2012 10:43 am

Debate sparks over state liquor pact

How the state will negotiate a new wholesale liquor contract estimated to be worth up to $378 million is raising debate in Augusta as one legislator is calling for a traditional request-for-proposals process.

The Bangor Daily News reports that appropriations committee member and Augusta Sen. Roger Katz has asked the state to abandon a process of competitive bargaining with interested and qualified parties and instead use a traditional RFP process for awarding state contracts.

In a letter to Sawin Millett, the state's Administrative and Financial Services commissioner, Katz wrote that he is not sure how the bargaining process will work and whether it will ensure fair treatment of bidders.

"Assume three interested bidders," Katz wrote. "Are they figuratively in three separate rooms with the responsible state official going back and forth between the three rooms conducting three parallel negotiations?"

The BDN reports that late Tuesday Millett was not prepared to comment on Katz's letter.

Currently, Maine Beverage Co. holds a 10-year contract set to expire in 2014, which it signed for $125 million.

Ford Reiche, a Cumberland businessman, announced to Mainebiz earlier this month that he intends to compete for the contract, estimated to be worth up to $378 million, through a new company, Dirigo Spirit.

Rep. Michael Carey, D-Lewiston, told the Press Herald in early September that he knew of two Maine-based businesses interested in bidding, though he did not identify them.

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