HARRISBURG - The president of the Pittsburgh-based company hired to train state liquor-store clerks and managers in the basics of being nice is married to one of the Liquor Control Board's top-level employees.

Buddy Hobart, president of the Solutions 21 consulting firm hired to conduct the training, is the husband of Susanne Hobart, the Liquor Control Board's regional manager in Pittsburgh.

Hobart, who is paid $85,000 a year, is one of only three regional managers for the agency.

Liquor Control Board officials said yesterday that Susanne Hobart has no sway over contract matters in general and had no say over the $174,000 contract recently awarded to Solutions 21.

According to LCB spokesman Nick Hays, Solutions 21 was among five firms that bid for the contract, and it submitted "the lowest and best" offer. Under the agreement, the company will help coach the agency's employees in the fundamentals of being good sales reps, such as greeting customers and thanking them for their purchase.

Hays said the contract was "in compliance" with the state's Adverse Interest Act, which among other things prohibits state employees from influencing contracts in which they have an interest.

The act also prohibits state employees from having an "adverse interest" in any contract with the state agency that employs them. The act defines that interest as being "a stockholder, partner, member, agent, representative or employee" of a company seeking such a contract.

Hays said Susanne Hobart does not do any work for her husband's firm.

She will, however, be among the 4,000 state liquor clerks and managers who will receive the training.

The Hobarts could not be reached for comment yesterday.