Boston Licensing Board Appointees Made by Governor Patrick and Transfer to Mayor Proposed

Profile of the new Licensing Board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer from the Boston Bar Association (click image to enlarge).

After a long wait from when Daniel Pokaski retired last summer as chair of the Boston Licensing Board, the Globe reports that Governor Patrick has not only appointed a replacement, but has literally changed the face of the powerful board by selecting a young, Latino lawyer as Chairwoman and an African-American retired judge from Roxbury to replace sitting board member, Michael Connolly. In addition, the Governor has introduced legislation to give control of the board back to the Mayor of Boston.

  • Nicole Murati Ferrer will fill the seat of chair, vacated by Daniel Pokaski. Ferrer is a Latino lawyer and Puerto Rican native that currently works for the City’s law department. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly recently did a profile on Murati Ferrer in an article, “Up and Coming Lawyers,” April 2010 (pdf).
  • One of the other three Licensing Board members, Michael Connolly, will step down in June 2011. His seat will be filled by Milton Wright, an African-American, retired Roxbury Municipal Court judge who was also known as “the singing judge.” Connolly is quoted as saying he is stepping aside to avoid conflict with his son, John R. Connolly, city councilor at-large.
  • The Governor has also proposed legislation that would transfer control of the Boston Licensing Board to the Mayor of Boston, after more than 100 years of state control. If passed, future appointments will be made by the Mayor. Councilor Stephen Murphy is quoted in the Globe article, “It’s a vestige of 100-year-old discrimination against the Irish,” said City Council President Stephen J. Murphy, who also supports transferring power to the mayor. “When the Yankees lost control of the ballot box, they took police commissioner and the licensing board.”

Suzanne Iannella, previously appointed by Governor Patrick, will remain on the Licensing Board as the third commissioner.

The Boston Licensing Board issues licenses for establishments that serve or sell food and alcohol (as well as pool halls, bowling allies, fortune tellers and dormitories). The Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing currently issues entertainment licenses. Should the proposed legislation pass to put the Licensing Board under City Hall, it is possible that all licenses will be issued by one combined Licensing Board.