SALT LAKE CITY — A veteran state employee will take over the once-beleaguered Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The state liquor commission nominated and the governor approved the appointment Tuesday of Salvador Petilos to serve as the agency's executive director.
“I am pleased to have Sal take the helm at DABC,” Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement. “The agency needs someone who can effectively enforce the rules and law with transparency and integrity, and also manage a large distribution operation efficiently. Sal brings the right combination of skills and experience to the post.”
Petilos, currently the deputy director of the Utah Department of Administrative Services, replaces acting DABC director Francine Giani.
Herbert appointed Giani last August to temporarily oversee the agency after legislative audits found it fraught with mismanagement and accused former executive director Dennis Kellen of committing a felony for doing business with a company his son owns. Giani is the executive director of the state Department of Commerce.
“Francine successfully turned DABC around when the organization was at its lowest point,” the governor said. "Francine made the tough choices and necessary changes, demonstrating her commitment to doing what is right over what is easy.”
Mismanagement prompted state lawmakers to restructure the agency, including more oversight from the governor's office.
Petilos has worked as an internal auditor with the state Office of the Legislative Auditor General and on administrative services' internal audit team. A graduate of Rutgers University and Fordham University School of Law, he also serves as the treasurer of the National Association of State Chief Administrators.
Also Tuesday, Herbert signed a bill adding 90 new restaurant liquor licenses to the state's population-based quota system. Legislators approved the measure last week in a special session.
DABC has been out of restaurant licenses for several months. More than 30 restaurants have license applications pending, including several out-of-state chains eager to expand in Utah.
“Signing the bills related to alcohol policy is the responsible thing to do for the state’s economy,” Herbert said. “Any delay would have caused volatility and confusion in the market for liquor licenses.”
The bill also delayed for one year a new law allowing the private sale of state-issued liquor licenses.