License Commission loses chairman, but can keep working

Attorney Richard Scali, chairman of the city’s three-person License Commission, is on a personal leave of absence, according to Michael Gardner, director of the city’s Personnel Department.

City officials could say little beyond that, including whether the leave was paid or unpaid, either because the situation was a surprise to them or because, as Gardner said, “We don’t comment on personnel issues.”

Scali, a longtime commissioner and chairman since 2005, did everything from defend the fining of St. Paul Church in Harvard Square for the ringing of its bells (way back in 1998); suspend Massachusetts Institute of Technology fraternities for allowing underage drinking; name the taxi driver of the year; and oversee the issuing of liquor licenses for the city with, Scali said in 2006, the most liquor licenses in the state per capita — and one where a full license can cost as much as $400,000.

The other members of the commission are the city’s police and fire chiefs, now Robert Haas and Gerald Reardon, respectively.

The work of the commission can go on with two members, Mayor David Maher confirmed Friday.

“The issue is the even number of people,” Maher said. “It’s not ideal because there can be tie votes.”

According to its website, the commission

is charged with the responsibility of issuing licenses and enforcing rules, regulations, local ordinances, and state laws pertaining to the sale of alcoholic beverages to common victualers, innholders, lodging houses and dorms, garage and gasoline storage permits, shops and sales, hackney carriages and drivers, open air parking lots, entertainment, fortune tellers, raffles and bazaars, festivals, used car dealers, peddlers, auctioneers, jitneys and livery/limousine licenses in the City of Cambridge.

Scali is unlisted and could not be reached for comment.

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