Boston Licensing Board chair Daniel Pokaski will retire at month’s end, earning an almost $80,000 per year pension, reports the Globe. Pokaski’s fifteen year tenure with the BLB has been wracked with controversy: two years ago, his name came up in the Dianne Wilkerson bribery scandal after he allegedly granted a liquor license to a Wilkerson briber in exchange for a pay increase (Pokaski was never formally charged by the FBI). Some of Pokaski’s other greatest hits include: claiming that observant Muslims’ need for halal food is the same as Italians’ need for pizza, remarking that, despite four violent incidents in two months, The Kells was “not a trouble spot” (and then merely scolding the bar at a hearing about a fatal stabbing), and failing to revoke bars’ licenses after incidents ranging from a doorman putting a customer in a chokehold and a patron’s credit card being overcharged by hundreds of dollars at The Bell In Hand to a stabbing on the dance floor at The Roxy.
So what does Pokaski’s retirement mean for the city’s bars and restaurants? For one thing, hopefully a more equitable liquor license awarding procedure. Law firm McDermott, Quilty, and Miller has been responsible for a disproportionately high percentage of the city’s liquor licenses over the past decade, found Boston Magazine in a scathing expose last fall, and it would be nice to see restaurants that can’t afford a fancy lawyer’s fee have more of a chance at obtaining the coveted licenses.
The Boston Licensing Board is appointed by the governor and Deval Patrick’s office did not respond to calls for comment about Pokaski’s replacement, but perhaps a clue might be found in Pokaski’s own story: after teaching in Boston public schools for three years, he served as a state representative and a Suffolk Superior Court Clerk before being appointed by Governor William Weld in 1995.