In a move sure to please the city’s nightlife community, Governor Jerry Brown has ousted the director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and named one of his deputies from the Attorney General’s office to the powerful post.
Former Vacaville City Councilman Steve Hardy (seen at right), whose resume includes a five-year stint as a San Francisco policeman, had overseen the ABC for former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger since 2007.
Hardy’s tenure was widely denounced by San Francisco entertainment officials and venue owners, who accused him and his department of harassing bar and dance club owners, enforcing arcane rules and creating a hostile atmosphere for operators of entertainment venues.
The discord grew so tense that openly gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) threatened to have the ABC audited.. Leno accused the agency of employing “rogue tactics” against and “running roughshod over” local entertainment businesses.
Hardy, in defending his agency, had told the Bay Area Reporter in 2009 that he and his staffers “are just doing our job.”
The litany of complaints over the years came from the now closed N’Touch gay Asian Polk Street club; the DNA Lounge in SOMA; and 11 live-music venues in the city. The situation led to the formation of a lobbying group for the entertainment industry called the California Music and Culture Association.
Told by email of Hardy’s dismissal by Brown, former San Francisco Entertainment Commissioner Terrance Alan, who is vacationing in Colombia with his partner this month to celebrate their 15th anniversary, wrote back that “You made my day.”
It remains to be seen if Hardy’s ouster will result in a more business friendly approach by the ABC and its inspectors. Replacing him will be Jacob Appelsmith, 47, of Oakland.
Brown today (Thursday, January 27) announced he had named Appelsmith as a senior advisor to the governor and director of the ABC. Since 2008, Appelsmith served as a special assistant to Brown when he was the state’s attorney general and chief of California Bureau of Gaming Control.
Appelsmith previously served as a deputy attorney general, general counsel for the Office of the Attorney General’s personnel and equal employment opportunity matters and lead supervising attorney for the Employment, Regulation and Administrative Section in the Office of the Attorney General. From 1988 to 2004, he was an attorney with Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro.
The position of director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $150,112. The position of senior advisor does not require Senate confirmation and there will be no additional compensation.
Appelsmith, a Democrat, can expect to face some tough questions from Leno and other senators on how he plans to run the ABC.