CUMBERLAND — While the letterhead of the Allegany County liquor board’s public meeting agenda still lists Gerald Delaney as chairman, changes have been made as to how the two remaining board members conduct business.
Delaney resigned a little more than three weeks ago amid a controversy between the board, formally called the Allegany County Board of License Commissioners, and promoters of DelFest, a popular bluegrass music festival. At Tuesday’s public meeting, it was clear Delaney led members Mike Griffith and Frederick Hill through each meeting’s agenda in a somewhat informal manner.
There is a new degree of formality at the liquor board’s meetings. For starters, each applicant for a Special Class C beer license, which is temporary, is now given a one-page fact sheet on the rules and regulations as covered in Article 2B of the Annotated Code of Maryland. Event organizers, including those associated with DelFest, recently have criticized the board for not making that information readily available.
In addition, applications are now motioned for favorable action and seconded. That was a Robert’s Rules of Order procedure previously overlooked by Delaney.
The liquor board approved five temporary beer licenses at Tuesday’s meeting. One such license was approved for a fundraiser scheduled for Aug. 5 through 7 organized by the Bowling Green Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary. The event is to be held at Hoffman Ballpark in Frostburg. As the auxiliary representative, Donna Struntz, went across the hall to pay her license fee, office manager Dee Cifala asked Griffith if he’d asked Struntz about gaming.
Griffith realized he hadn’t.
“I sure miss Jerry Delaney,” Griffith said of the former board chairman.
When Struntz returned, Struntz said that, yes, she intended for there to be tip jars. She appeared floored when Cifala and Griffith said a county gaming license would be required. The two reversed their positions when they realized fire departments are excluded from the license obligation. Struntz left satisfied and clearly relieved.
The determination of the rules and regulations during meetings isn’t the only change. Griffith made separate mo-tions to approve each application. Hill seconded the motion each time. There is no third member, as Gov. Martin O’Malley has not yet announced Delaney’s successor.
Hill said the fact sheet is not different in content from the board’s previous discussions with applicants but simply puts in writing what has been said all along.
“In my 12 years on the board, we’ve never had a problem,” Hill said. “It’s what we’ve always done. We’ve communicated verbally with the licensees. We always had a list of verbal questions and a protracted conversation of ‘dos and don’ts.’ ”
Some, including DelFest representatives and Sunflower Fest co-founder Josef Crosby, countered that the approach left licensees with an unclear list of expectations. Crosby announced last week the cancellation of this year’s festival at Rocky Gap State Park and said the 2011 event will move to Pennsylvania.
Griffith said the fact sheet is an effort to improve communications with licensees, even though “999 times out of 1,000,” applicants seemed clear on rules and guidelines.
Kevin Spradlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.