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Community Work Services and Fedcap combine

Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz LLP  represented Boston non-profit entity Community Work Services (CWS) in its recent agreement to combine with Fedcap, a larger non-profit headquartered in New York. Boston’s Community Work Services will continue their 136-year mission of helping people to transform their lives through employment.

Fedcap in turn is one of the largest workforce development agencies in the country and helps more than 25,000 Americans find and keep meaningful employment each
year. To learn more about Fedcap, please visit http://www.fedcap.org/.

The combination was approved by the CWS Board of Directors, and concludes a five-year sustainability strategy that included exploration with other national and Massachusetts area not-for-profits. The decision to combine with Fedcap was based on a shared mission to create opportunities which help people with barriers achieve greater self-sufficiency.

CWS will continue to operate independently under its current management team and CWS will become the hub for Fedcap operations in New England. Serena M. Powell will continue as the Executive Director of CWS and assume the role of Senior Vice President of New England for Fedcap.

WRH partners Bob Hurwitz and Howard Wayne are both past Presidents of CWS.

Howard J. Wayne Appointed as Founding Member of Action for Boston Community Development, Inc.’s (ABCD) Corporate Advisory Council

We are pleased to announce that Howard J. Wayne, partner of Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz LLP, has been appointed a founding member of the Corporate Advisory Council of Action for Boston Community Development, Inc.

Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. is a non-profit organization that helps fight poverty in Boston. Through their innovative programs, ABCD served over 85,000 clients in 2011 alone. ABCD provides basic services to help empower individuals, families and communities to overcome poverty, live with dignity and achieve their full potential.

For more information about ABCD, please go to http://www.bostonabcd.org.

Recent Updates at the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission

Recently, two new updates were posted on the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission’s (“ABCC”) website. The first, effective May 28, 2013, is an advisory regarding obtaining a Certificate of Good Standing (COG) in connection with liquor license applications. Obtaining a sign-off from the Department of Revenue (DOR) can sometimes be a drawn-out process, so now the ABCC will accept COGs as part of the liquor license applications submitted to the local liquor licensing authorities. To obtain a COG from DOR, the applicant should go to DOR’s website and follow the links to obtain a COG. In situations where a license is being transferred, both the Buyer and the Seller should obtain the COG.

The second update to the ABCC’s website is the list of active state licensees. These licenses include: Farmer Brewery, Farm Distillery, Farmer Winery, Wholesalers, Manufacturers, Winery Shipment, and Caterers Licenses. The retail licenses issued by the local municipalities and approved by the ABCC are not currently listed on this site.

These updates are part of an ongoing process at the ABCC to make the more transparent and efficient for all those involved in the liquor licensing process.

WRH in Attendance at Medical Marijuana Seminar

Last Friday, Suffolk University Law School hosted a day-long seminar on Medical Marijuana:  “Navigating the Law and the Science.” With many clients in the liquor and pharmacy industries, it seemed a natural for Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz, and the seminar did not disappoint.

Retired SJC Justice John Greaney moderated two morning sessions, which included discussions of Massachusetts’ new medical marijuana laws, comparisons with similar laws nationwide, and an overview of the latest research on medical and scientific uses for marijuana.

Highlights from later sessions included:

  • Dr. Lauren Smith, Interim Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, summarizing the regulations which are due to be issued soon;
  • Speculation concerning how federal officials will respond within the Commonwealth, given that marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act; and
  • Views of representatives of law enforcement and municipal and state regulators from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.

Our take-away?

One, we were surprised to learn that Question 3 (which legalized medical marijuana in Massachusetts) not only passed with a very solid 63 percent of the vote statewide, but actually received majority support in every locality except two (Lawrence and Mendon, and even there only lost 51 – 49).  Supporters claim that full legalization (at the state level, ala Colorado and Washington state) is coming to Massachusetts in 2016.

Two, we were impressed by the list of serious medical conditions for which marijuana has been found useful by patients and sufferers (such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s, MS), though research has been slow to happen in large part due to the difficulty of studying a material that is illegal to possess.

Three, Massachusetts seems intent on proceeding with a legal structure that is non-profit, and “vertically integrated” meaning dispensaries will be the source of their own product.  We think the state might be better served to consider the alcoholic beverages regulatory model.  This would allow for-profit entities to either manufacture or retail the product, allowing each to specialize at whatever they do best, and retain whatever after-tax profit is generated.

Recent ABCC Decision a Win for Liquor License Applicants

The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) recently issued a decision in favor of a liquor license applicant in Falmouth.

Murphy’s Package Store (Murphy’s) applied to the Falmouth Board of Selectmen to move from its existing Main Street location to new premises approximately four miles away in West Falmouth. After hearing testimony both in favor and opposed to the move, the Board of Selectmen voted 3 to 2 to deny the application. The issues of traffic and parking at the new location were hot topics at both the Falmouth hearing, and at the subsequent appeal before the ABCC.

The ABCC disapproved of the Board of Selectmen’s denial, and remanded the matter back to the Board with the recommendation that the application be granted. In doing so, the ABCC made statements that may help counter some of the common tactics used by opponents to liquor license transfers.

All cases involving the issuance or transfer of liquor licenses in Massachusetts involve a determination of a public need for the license. However, a licensing board in reaching a decision concerning public need is required to make specific findings that are supported by the record. Regarding Murphy’s, the ABCC stated that the Board of Selectmen’s denial was inadequate as it merely recited a summation of the opponents who testified about parking and traffic. The [ABCC] finds this decision to be a general finding (emphasis added). To distinguish, the ABCC cited the case Exotic Restaurant Concepts and stated that [r]ecitals of testimony do not constitute findings. See Exotic Rests. Concept, Inc. v. Boston Licensing Board, Suffolk Superior Court, C.A. No. 07-3287 (Borenstein, J.). In denying the application for transfer, the Board of Selectmen merely recited the statements of the opponents concerning traffic and parking, and this is insufficient to deny a license transfer. In fact, the record reflected that adequate parking was available and neither the Police Chief nor Fire Chief had any objections to the transfer.

Additionally, the ABCC refused to give any weight to one opponent’s statement that there existed another package store located less than ½ mile away from the proposed transfer location. The ABCC stated that “[t]his distance between the existing package store and the proposed location of Murphy’s was not verified to the [ABCC], nor was it explained how this distance was calculated or calibrated.”

The ABCC noted that a single liquor store in one area of a town could be considered a monopoly. The ABCC in its decision stated that “the action of the Local Board in denying this application has the effect of continuing in place the monopoly held by the sole § 15 license in this section of the town.”

Based on the ABCC’s Murphy’s decision, liquor license applicants are advised to prepare to substantively counter objections that may be raised by opponents. Common general objections such as traffic, parking, and proximity of other package stores can be countered by a license applicant who builds a strong and detailed record at the hearing.

Howard J. Wayne to Chair MCLE Panel on Alcohol, Food & Entertainment Licensing

Wayne, Richard & Hurwitz LLP invites you to join us for a seminar entitled Alcohol, Food & Entertainment Licensing & Liability Update 2013. The seminar will be taking place on Thursday, April 11th from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. both via Webcast and live at the MCLE Center located at 10 Winter Place in Boston. Howard J. Wayne, founding partner of the firm, will be chairing our esteemed panel. The panel will include:

  • Kim S. Gainsboro, Esq.  Chairwoman, Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission
  • William Kelley, Esq.  General Counsel, Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission
  • Paul M. Maleck, Esq.  Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy P.C.
  • Paul Mullan, Esq.  Commissioner, Worcester License Commission
  • Nicole Murati Ferrer, Esq.  Chairwoman, Licensing Board for the City of Boston

At this seminar, you will hear directly about the licensing process directly from the decision makers and leading practitioners. The law surrounding licensing and liability is always changing; this program will help you and your clients stay current on this challenging area of the law. The conclusion of the program will include an “Ask the Experts” session for attendees to get answers to their licensing questions.

Please click here to register to attend the seminar or click here to sign up for the live Webcast. The panel is looking forward to fielding your questions!

Robert W. Hurwitz and Eugene R. Richard Named Super Lawyers

Robert W. Hurwitz and Eugene R. Richard have both been named Massachusetts and New England Super Lawyers. Lawyers are nominated through a vigorous review process and only the top 5% of lawyers are named Super Lawyers. Super Lawyers have attained a high level of excellence, peer recognition, and professional achievement.

Bob Hurwitz specializes in construction law, commercial and business litigation. This is Bob’s ninth time being named a Super Lawyer, and he has been recognized every year since 2004.

Gene Richard specializes in a wide range of business and legal issues, including contract negotiation and enforcement, administrative and regulatory law, and corporate law. This is Gene’s ninth time being named a Super Lawyer and he has been recognized every year since 2004.

Gene Richard Chairs Panel on Delaware vs. Massachusetts Corporations and LLCs

Gene Richard recently chaired a panel of attorneys for Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) on the subject of Delaware vs. Massachusetts LLCs & Corporations. The presentation took place on Friday, September 21, 2012. The panel also included Joshua M. Bowman of Sherin and Lodgen LLP, Andrew S. Hochberg of Tamkin & Hochberg LLP, and Richard Heller, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Legal Sea Foods LLC.

Speaking to an audience and broadcast live on the Web, the panel explored various differences between corporations and LLCs organized in Massachusetts and Delaware, focusing on two fundamental questions commonly raised by business clients in Massachusetts: 1) should their business be organized in Massachusetts or Delaware, and 2) should their business be operated as a corporation or an LLC? The panel discussed practical advice on how to guide clients, from the formation of their business entities, to dealing with director and shareholder matters, to the use of LLCs in conjunction with estate planning. The presentation concluded with a live “View from the Client Side” Q&A, in which Mr. Heller explained issues involved in Legal Sea Foods evolution from a Massachusetts corporation, to a Delaware corporation, to its recent conversion into a Delaware LLC.

More information about the seminar can be found by clicking here.

 

ABCC Rules For Gas Station Licensee

Not that long ago, it was quite unusual to find alcoholic beverages for sale at a
gasoline station in Massachusetts. However, the advent of convenience stores linked to gasoline stations is rapidly changing that situation.  A recent decision by the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) illustrates the trend.

In 2011, Northgate Mobil in Revere filed an application with the Revere Licensing Board to obtain a license to sell all alcoholic beverages, for off premises consumption (i.e., a “package store” license).  Northgate Mobil already held an off-premises consumption license to sell wine and beer, and wanted to upgrade to sell spirits as well.  In December 2011, the Revere Board denied Northgate Mobil’s application, stating in part that a liquor license was inappropriate for an establishment “so closely associated with the operation of motor vehicles”.  The applicant appealed the decision to the ABCC, and the ABCC recently ruled in favor of Northgate Mobil.

The ABCC cited a number of factors in support of its disapproval of the Revere Board’s denial.  For instance, Northgate Mobil had never been disciplined for violating laws or regulations relating to alcohol sales, and explained to the ABCC why that was no accident  “the store’s owner spends approximately 50 hours a week on the premises, and all of the store’s employees and managers are trained in-house in the proper handling of alcoholic beverages sales.”  Furthermore, not only was there no local opposition to the expanded license, but one city councilor appeared at the hearing and declared support for the license on behalf of himself and his constituents.

Intriguingly, the ABCC also took issue with the Revere Board’s core finding that the application should be denied because Northgate Mobil was “closely associated with the operation of motor vehicles.”  Even though the applicant operates a gas station, the ABCC quite logically noted that “All off-premises alcoholic beverages licenses by their very nature generally involve an individual driving to the premises, purchasing the alcohol, and then leaving the premises with the alcoholic beverages and consuming it somewhere else”.

Given the ABCC’s recognition that most package store sales occur to consumers who have driven to the store, whether or not it is located at a gas station, their roadmap was clear the ABCC remanded Northgate Mobil’s application to the Revere Board for further consideration, with the recommendation that Revere grant Northgate Mobil’s application for an all alcoholic beverages license.

Boston liquor licenses

May 27’s Boston Sunday Globe contained two thought-provoking Opinion pieces by Globe deputy editor Dante Ramos:  “Boston bar buzz-kill” and “For the price of a Boston liquor license…oh, never mind“.  Ramos discusses the reasons Boston has less bars and restaurants that serve alcohol than you might think, or many might want.  Ramos also explains why restaurant liquor licenses are so expensive in Boston, and how that skews the types of restaurants that can survive and flourish.  Some possible “solutions” that Ramos throws out that could deserve support include a new class of licenses for smaller bars, or new non-transferable licenses whose fees could be dedicated to support late-night bus or T service.  Well worth taking a closer look….