Regime Change at the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission

By - April 25, 2011 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

John Jones has chaired the Tennessee ABC for longer than we recall. Long before Al Gore invented the Internet and direct shipment of wine. Through at least three gubernatorial administrations.

At the conclusion of April’s regular ABC meeting, Commissioner Jones announced that he was stepping down as chair. He mentioned his faltering eyesight, but gave no firm reason.

The resignation appeared to have been planned. After Commissioner Jones spoke, Commissioner Bryan Kaegi nominated Commissioner Mary McDaniel as Chair. Jones promptly seconded and closed the matter for a vote. Commissioner McDaniel’s nomination was approved.

Although some might attribute the selection of Commissioner McDaniel as being political, we think not. Republican Governor Haslam could have easily chosen not to reappoint Commissioner Jones, who has long ties to both the state Democratic party and the Tennessee ABC. The ABC is a three member Commission that has not been traditionally dominated by the Chair, and has been blissfully free of partisan politics.

In other ABC news, ABC Commission meeting dates have been changed to the fourth Wednesday of each month, beginning in July. June’s meeting will be held on the third Wednesday, because ABC Director Danielle Elks will preside as president at the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators, held during the last week in June.

TABC Director Asks: Where Are My Minions?

By - April 18, 2011 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Staff is pretty lean at the Tennessee ABC headquarters in Nashville. There are numerous high level vacancies. Most recently, Acting Assistant Director Melinda Arrington gave notice that she will be leaving at the end of the month. Former Assistant Director Carolyn Smith departed late last year. Senior ABC agents Mike Cawthon and Al Watson have been forced to retire because of budget constraints. Hiring freezes have left a number of key positions vacant.

The ABC is a thinly staffed agency charged with overseeing several thousand licenses. Director Danielle Elks is now filling the role of three staff attorneys and also leading the agency. ABC agents are sparse. Although licensees do not look forward to stings, ABC agents are vital to conducting inspections necessary for issuance of licenses to new businesses and changes of ownership.

So far, the ABC has done an admirable job of working through this tough time. We hope that help is on the way, as backlogs are certain to build up and morale can easily suffer.

TABC Director Asks: Where Are My Minions?

By - April 18, 2011 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek


Staff is pretty lean at the Tennessee ABC headquarters in Nashville. There are numerous high level vacancies. Most recently, Acting Assistant Director Melinda Arrington gave notice that she will be leaving at the end of the month. Former Assistant Director Carolyn Smith departed late last year. Senior ABC agents Mike Cawthon and Al Watson have been forced to retire because of budget constraints. Hiring freezes have left a number of key positions vacant.


The ABC is a thinly staffed agency charged with overseeing several thousand licenses.  Director Danielle Elks is now filling the role of three staff attorneys and also leading the agency. ABC agents are sparse.  Although licensees do not look forward to stings, ABC agents are vital to conducting inspections necessary for issuance of licenses to new businesses and changes of ownership.


So far, the ABC has done an admirable job of working through this tough time. We hope that help is on the way, as backlogs are certain to build up and morale can easily suffer.