Normally, cases to be considered by the Baltimore Liquor Board are placed on a docket that is made public online weeks before the hearing.
But this didn’t happen in the matter of 2839 Annapolis Road.
(Applicants were seeking a license transfer for the establishment, the old Hollinswood Inn in the Lakeland community in Southwest Baltimore.)
The Hollinswood Inn case was being added on, executive secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth informed the audience, at the start of the board’s September 4 meeting
There was only one problem – while the applicants had been informed of the unscheduled consideration, the community had not, according to the account in Booze News, the Community Law Center blog that monitors Liquor Board proceedings.
Not really an issue, the applicant’s attorney, Gary Maslan, told the commissioners, informing them that his client had reached out to the community but that the organization there is moribund.
Maslan said “there ‘is no real community association around it. The old community association disbanded,’” according to the Booze News post, written by attorney Rebecca Lundberg Witt.
Booze News Begs to Differ
Witt, who attends every meeting and records both dialogue and decisions, went back and found a previous Booze News posting showing that, as recently as November 2013, there was an active community group there, the Lakeland Coalition.
She checked Baltimore’s Cityview website and found, in addition to the Lakeland Coalition, six other potentially active community associations in the area, including: Gwynns Falls Trail Council, Mt. Winans/Westport/Lakeland Master Plan Task Force, Southern District Police-Community Relations Council, Lakeland Community Association, Southwest Community Action Center, and Westport/Project T.O.O.U.R., Inc. Youth Council.
Witt found the kiss-off of the community improper.
“As recently as November 2013, there was, in fact, an operational community association in Lakeland,” she wrote. “Though the applicants received notice of the hearing, the community members did not, because the hearing was not listed on the docket for the day.”
Male Bonding Over a Strip Club?
In her write-up of the day of hearings, Witt captured the usual round of bad behavior by licensees: underage drinking, a filthy lavatory and, at Euphoria Nightclub on Ponca Street, a fight to which 25 (!) police officers responded.
She also noted the flouting of the 180-day rule, a regular occurrence. (The de jure rule is that if your bar or store is not operational for more than 180 days you lose your license. The de facto rule, under the “new” Thomas-Ward-chaired Liquor Board as well as previous ones, is Not really.)
The matter is at the heart of a case that The Brew has reported on in detail – that of the proposed Crossbar beer garden in Federal Hill.
But Witt also picks up quotes that reflect, in less legalistic ways, troubling issues at the Liquor Board.
One example is a remark by Chairman Tom Ward during the discussion of a violation at Sherrie’s Showbar, a longtime Baltimore strip club located at 3821-23 Pulaski Avenue.
Police said a dancer there had solicited an officer for sexual intercourse. After Ward at first wanted to impose a $1,000 fine on the club for the offense, the penalty was lowered to $500. (Witt had showed Ward the section in the law that limits the fine for a first offense to $500.)
As Ward imposed the lower amount, he observed to Howard Cardin, the strip club’s attorney: “When you and I were young men, you and I probably went to Sherrie’s.”