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Longtime liquor license official to retire following critical audit

May 14, 2013

mobs_180Sam Daniels (pictured), the executive secretary of the Board of Liquor License Inspectors and a fixture for decades, has announced his retirement, effective July 1 in the wake of a critical state audit of the agency.

“OMG……………is it Christmas? Today? Pinch me, seriously!!!” Beth Hawks, a west-side small business owner, wrote in an email on Thursday, May 9. “I can hardly contain my JOY!!”

Daniels confirmed his retirement to City Paper on May 13. “Frankly this has nothing to do with the audit,” he says. “Everybody would probably like for it to look like that but truth is there is a major philosophical difference between me and the agency and the mayor and her designs on all things liquor.” Daniels says he did not read the Maryland Daily Record story saying he had resigned. (Dated May 10, it is behind a pay wall).

The state audit, released early last month, found inspectors not doing inspections, inspectors inspecting closed establishments and not noting they are closed, failure to confirm criminal background checks and a host of other problems (“Audit Slams Liquor Board,” Mobtown Beat, April 10).

“I’m tired of all the BS,” Daniels continued. “I’ll be 66 in July and eligible for Social Security. And I’ll be going straight into consulting of license acquisition, government regulation and compliance. I essentially will be a gun for hire with regulatory agencies.”

Daniels, whose position gave him effective control over much of the day-to-day activities of an agency with life-or-death power over bar and liquor store operations, says he will be “in and out of the office” until his final departure. He says he has the option to take “about 45 sick days” before then, or be paid at the rate of one-third of a day after he leaves. Vacation days can be taken one-for-one in cash as per his union contract, Daniels says.

One person angling for Daniels’ job is Michelle Pierce Wirzberger,* director of legislative affairs for City Council president Bernard C. “Jack” Young and a long-time liquor board watcher from her days as a staff lawyer for the Community Law Center, where she fought battles against such establishments as Club Mate and Club Choices.

“We need someone in the agency who has the desire to push for change,” she says.

*Formerly Wirzberger-Pierce. The Pierce part got dropped two years ago; I regret the error.