Alcohol board initiates process to remove director
The Alcohol Beverage Control Board Thursday unanimously voted to remove Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office Director Erika McConnell, but this change still requires an affirming vote from the Marijuana Control Board.
ABC board members praised her work ethic and diligence, but board Chair Bob Klein said he was not confident McConnell was carrying out the board’s mission.
“What I see is a disconnect between the board and its desires and the way in which Erika approaches her position,” Klein said in a morning meeting. “That the basis. Not misconduct on her part. It’s more a lack of confidence on whether our wishes are going to be carried through.”
Klein said the board does not wish to have McConnell removed as a state employee and would like to see her reassigned.
During the meeting, McConnell addressed concerns the board may have had over handling access to criminal history information.
In a Sept. 18 letter to the board, she outlined procedures her staff took in handling sensitive procedures, reminding the board the divisions of labor were appropriately followed.
She also noted some accomplishments during her two-and-a-half year tenure:
- Organized 16 ABC and 19 MCB meetings in various statewide locations while collectively handling more than 600 permit applications and nearly 400 license transfer applications;
- Performed more than 3,000 alcohol and marijuana inspections;
- Issued more than 5,200 marijuana handler permits.
McConnell must now await word from the Marijuana Control Board, which has its next meeting in Anchorage Nov. 13-15. Board Chair Mark Springer could not be reached for comment.
McConnell works to the pleasure of both boards, not Gov. Mike Dunleavy; however, Dunleavy does appoint members to respective boards.
McConnell’s Juneau-based attorney Elizabeth Bakalar sent a four-page letter to the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Commissioner Julie Anderson, essentially reminding the administration of the separation.
“Accordingly, any attempt by executive branch officials to manipulate the substantive conduct or decision-making process of either the ABC or MBC board is an unconstitutional encroachment upon entities falling squarely within the legislature's domain,” Bakalar wrote. “The fact that the boards are, by statute, 'quasi-judicial' makes executive encroachment upon them that much more offensive to the constitution, and flirts with the 'tyrannical aggrandizement of power' our Constitution is designed to prevent.”
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