Pilar Gracia, who for many years served a dual role as administrator and legal counsel for the Harford County Liquor Control Board, is no longer with the board, the chairwoman said Tuesday.
Gracia’s last day was Monday.
When contacted Tuesday, liquor board chair Sheryl Davis Kohl would not comment on Gracia’s departure, calling it was a personnel matter, other than to say it was “absolutely not” related to a recent controversy regarding several drag events being canceled at Harford businesses following alleged “threatening” meetings between liquor licensees, Gracia and liquor board inspector William Colburn.
The liquor board’s regular meeting Wednesday will be followed by an executive session to discuss options going forward related to Gracia’s departure, Kohl said. She declined to say what those options are.
“We will review at the meeting and put a plan out after the commissioners have a chance to review and discuss it,” Kohl said.
Gracia was hired as the board’s legal counsel in February 2008 and in July 2015 became the board administrator when the previous administrator resigned.
She had been serving both roles until May, when the board chose to separate them and hired attorney Amy Finneran, a solo attorney who is of counsel to the law office of Baltimore County-based Burgess Law, LLC.
Until 2015, the roles had always been occupied by different people.
“We felt it was better to split the position,” Kohl said Tuesday. “It made better sense to separate the positions so there was a true understanding of the board counsel and administrator and each one has their roles.”
Gracia did not return messages seeking comment.
The board has two relatively new inspectors. Colburn joined the board in October as a full-time inspector and William Knoerlein joined in May as a part-time inspector.
Last month, the liquor board and its staff came under fire from the LGBTQ community after Colburn and Gracia met with several restaurant owners and liquor licensees about scheduled drag events, ultimately leading to those events being canceled. The two said the meetings were to “keep open lines of communications” and “remind” licensees about county rules regarding nudity and sexual displays.
While licensees were not told they couldn’t host the planned events — that decision was left up to business owners — a least one licensee said the meeting with the inspector came across as threatening and that liquor licenses would be revoked if they went forward with the drag events.