In response to “Panelists talk impact of lack of liquor regulations on black communities” published on November 21, 2019:
On behalf of the Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City (BLLC), I write to address my concerns related to an article that was published in The Johns Hopkins News-Letter (“Panelists talk impact of lack of liquor regulations on black communities”) on November 21, 2019.
First, although you corrected the statement in the online article in January 28, 2020, the BLLC has never been an agency of the City Comptroller. It is, and always has been, an independent State agency created by the Maryland General Assembly pursuant to the repeal of the Volstead Act in 1933. At the time of publication, the article suggested that the BLLC served the interests of the City Comptroller or was merely a revenue generating instrument for the City. That was a gross misstatement of our purpose.
Secondly, the Commissioners with whom I serve do not disrespect community representatives who appear before the Board. In fact, we have appointed a Community Liaison to facilitate a mutually beneficial working relationship with community groups and it has been successful. Our public hearings are adversarial in that licensees and other interested parties are often represented by counsel. Community representatives should be prepared to answer questions from opposing attorneys when they offer testimony. That preparation is the job of their lawyer. In the case you mentioned that lawyer would be Ms. Witt of the CLC. Her failure to represent her clients properly is not within our control.
Finally, it is not true that the BLLC is blind to the societal problem in our City sometimes associated with liquor establishments. We are keenly aware of them and we participate in multi-agency efforts initiated by the Mayor’s Office to address them, particularly in areas of the City which have experienced violent crime. We do this on a regular basis, while searching for additional resources to assist licensees and neighborhoods beset by such disturbances.
Albert J. Matricciani, Jr.,
Chairman, Baltimore City Board of Liquor License Commissioners