A Split Decision

After being asked to resign by Mayor Dan Rizzo, one License Commissioner will not serve out the remaining two years on his term, while another will go ahead and serve out the remaining four months on his term.

License Commission Chair Tom Henneberry told the Journal that the mayor asked him to step down from his post, and that he would eventually do just that.

“Frankly, my situation at this point is indeterminate,” he said on Monday. “I’ve agreed I won’t serve out the rest of my full term, but how long I do serve is determinate on what actions the mayor himself decides to take…The best way to say it is I’m going to work with the mayor to make sure the Commission continues to act in a very professional way with people who are knowledgeable about how it functions.”

Henneberry was appointed to the Commission in 2004 and his current term wouldn’t expire until 2014.

Henneberry was a patent attorney for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for many years, and was appointed because he had a lot of experience with licensing issues related to MIT that went before the Cambridge License Commission.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Bob Marra also told the Journal he had been asked to step down, and that he would not surrender his seat.

However, that comes with a caveat, being that Marra’s term ends this coming June and he is not expected to be re-appointed to the Commission.

Only long-time Commissioner Linda Guinasso was asked to stay on.

Marra said the entire situation was professional and without any animosity between the mayor and the two Commissioners. He said that both he and Henneberry met with Rizzo in a private meeting last week to discuss the situation.

“For me, I am not resigning from the Board, but I completely understand my term ends this year and if there were a decision to make a different appointment, I respect and understand it,” he said. “The reasons I gave for not resigning were simply that the statutory term set by [state law] is a six-year term. I feel as a personal conviction that I have a commitment to fulfill the term. Absent extenuating circumstances, I would not be fulfilling my commitment to the City if I were to leave a few months early.”

He continued, “There’s no acrimony between any of us about the matter. This is something the mayor desires, we gave our reasons why we disagree and that’s where it stays.”

The Rizzo Administration would give no reasons as to why, specifically, they asked the Commissioners to resign, but they did offer a statement on the situation.

“The Mayor is committed to bringing in personnel who share his philosophy and will continue discussions to make this possible,” read the statement. “There is nothing to report at this time. Talks about resignations are ongoing.”

Neither Henneberry nor Marra would say why they were asked to step down.

Speculation has abounded, though.

Neither Commissioner has done anything out of line, and both are eminently qualified – both being attorneys who have dealt with licensing.

Some have postulated that the difference of opinion might revolve around the alcohol establishment hour rollback that was instituted a few years ago by the Commission.

Both Henneberry and Marra are supporters of the rollback, which put the closing hour at bars and restaurants with alcohol at 1 a.m. instead of 2 a.m. Marra wasn’t on the Commission when the rollback was voted upon, but he is believed to be a supporter of it.

Many, though, are not, including business members in the community who operate restaurants and bars. Many have said it gives them a competitive disadvantage with surrounding areas that continue to allow a 2 a.m. closing.

Given the Rizzo Administration’s pro-business stance, addressing the rollback for the business community could very well be on the agenda.

However, at this point, no one is saying on the record whether or not that is the case.

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