Walsh Shakes Up Boston Licensing Board

New Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, exercising new authority granted by the state Legislature, expelled all three members of Boston’s Licensing Board, replacing them with his own appointees.

Walsh announced the move Wednesday. For more than a century, the board that controls liquor licenses had been appointed by the governor, but a state law passed earlier this year returned the authority to the Boston mayor.

The Licensing Board’s newly appointed chairwoman is Christine A. Pulgini. Licensing Board and our approach to licensing across the city presents a fresh opportunity to support economic development across our neighborhoods.”

Members of the Licensing Board, whose positions are regarded as full-time, regulate everything from hotels to fortune tellers, but their most consequential power is over liquor licenses, which have long been contentious.

Liquor licenses can help spur economic development, but the number is limited by the state. Liquor licenses historically have been difficult to obtain, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley spearheaded an effort to overhaul the Licensing Board, a push that was championed by Walsh. The Legislature increased the city’s limit of licenses by 75 and returned local control of the board to Boston’s mayor for the first time since 1906. The Boston Globe reported that Pressley issued a statement Wednesday thanking outgoing board members for their service.

One of the other new appointees to the licensing board was Lisa S. Maki, a lawyer who lives in South Boston. Maki has worked for the city’s Law Department since 2010, according to Walsh’s press release. The third new member was Keeana Serene Saxon, a lawyer who lives in Roxbury. Saxon had worked as general counsel to the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, according to the release.

The members of the new board began their six-year terms on Monday. Salaries are set by state law, according to the mayor’s office.

As chairwoman, Pulgini will be paid $100,000 annually, and Maki and Saxon will earn $85,000.

The ousted board members included Suzanne Iannella; and Milton L. Wright Jr., whose term ran until 2016. Wright is a retired first justice from Roxbury District Court who is well known in the African-American community.
The third member removed by Walsh was Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer, whose term ran until 2018.

Ferrer will remain employed by the city and is transitioning to a different role.

Iannella and Wright are no longer employed by the City of Boston.

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