Mayor Elorza taps former City Council president for seat on Providence liquor board

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has nominated former City Council President Peter Mancini to an open seat on the Providence Board of Licenses.

Mancini, a Democrat who represented the Wanskuck and Elmhurst neighborhoods that comprise Ward 14, served on the council from 1991 until he retired in 2010. He was elected president during his final term in office.

Mancini will replace Luis Peralta, a Cranston resident who Elorza chose to not reappoint after a single three-year term on the board. Elorza has also reappointed Delia Rodriquez-Masjoan to serve another term.

All of the mayor’s nominees must be confirmed by the council. Elorza has not appointed a candidate for a third open spot, which has been vacant since former state Sen. Juan Pichardo resigned in November.

The five-member licensing board generally meets three times a week, processing more than 8,000 business licenses each year. The board also handles disciplinary matters, such as punishment for underage drinking or fights in bars. It is currently chaired by Dylan Conley. Charles Newton serves as vice chair.

A seat on the board is among the most coveted assignments in city government, in part because commissioners earn $19,713 a year for the part-time work. (The chairman is paid $26,850.) The board also regularly attracts media attention, usually when a nightclub or bar is called in for various violations.

The board has come under fire in 2015 after former House Speaker Gordon Fox pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe from a restaurant seeking a liquor license during his time on the board. It has also attempted to close several high-profile establishments, including a nightclub on Federal Hill and another one in Fox Point.

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Dan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan