On July 20, 2016, the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits released the second Performance Audit Report of the Baltimore City Liquor Board (BLLC). This Audit was much like the first one: it revealed to the public many of the BLLC’s illegal, unethical, and corrupt practices. There have been improvements since 2013, but one glaring issue remains: BLLC inspectors are still not conducting inspections that respond to community concerns about health and safety.
The lack of inspections allows liquor licensees to operate without any regulation. The audit reveals that while some licensees are inspected numerous times each year, others are not inspected at all. Furthermore, Becky Witt, who attends every BLLC hearing, has noted that only one inspector works in the evening and only that one inspector brings violations before the Commissioners for a hearing. Of course, it is in the evening that most of the violations that are of concern to the neighboring communities occur. From extreme violence to noise complaints, liquor establishments can make an otherwise desirable block a very unpleasant, if not dangerous, place to live.
What We Can Do
Through Booze News, we are planning to start publishing photos of the inspection reports online as we push for better inspections that are actually responsive to community complaints. The inspectors’ refusal to work in the evenings “in areas with well-documented high crime rates” (see Baltimore Sun article) and their lack of responsiveness to community complaints needs to be revealed. We believe that holding the BLLC accountable for these lax inspections could be the final piece necessary to make this an agency that actually works for, not against, our public health, safety and welfare.
Support Community Law Center in calling for the Liquor Board to accept and embrace its role as a public health agency and to better coordinate with the Health and Police Departments to better protect the public!