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We'll Drink to That

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Mayor John Hickenlooper has found a replacement for Stephanie O’Malley, the former director of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses who now has her hands full as the newly elected Clerk & Recorder. Yesterday Awilda R. Marquez was named to head the department – and she’s going to have a full plate, too, with duties that include overseeing dozens of city permits, incuding those that authorize valet services and liquor licenses.

But for her very first act, Marquez should consider clarifying Denver’s position on First Fridays, the monthly art openings that have turned into quite a party across the city – but are also in danger of drying up, since under Colorado liquor laws it’s technically illegal to serve alcohol at a public function without a permit. For starters, she might want to investigate obtaining a special permit that could apply to galleries across the city, so that once a month they could break out the kegs and Gallo jugs without fear. And in the process, she’d save one of this town’s most liquid assets.

Here’s part of the announcement on Marquez’s hiring:

Awilda has held senior legal positions in both the public and private sectors, and the insight that experience brings in terms of balancing public and private interests gives her exceptional experience and judgment for this role," said Hickenlooper. "In addition, her focus on solving problems and her consensus-building working style will certainly be an asset."

The Director of the Department of Excise and Licenses oversees a department comprised of approximately 22 full time staff members who are responsible for issuing over 100 different classes of Denver business licenses. She is responsible for overseeing the City's licensing authority that administers the Colorado Liquor and Beer Codes and the City of Denver's Cabaret Code. The Director ensures compliance with requirements mandated by provisions of the City's alarm ordinance.

The Director also implements policies and procedures to assure that license applicants qualify for specific types of licenses. These policies and procedures include steps related to analyzing information on license applications, conducting criminal background investigations, hosting public hearings when appropriate, and taking administrative action against license holders who violate licensing provisions or who fail to remain in compliance with license requirements.

Ms. Marquez most recently served as an attorney with Hall & Evans, L.L.C. in Denver in its public entity division, where she defended state agencies and counties and their employees, and non-profit professional organizations. She also handled cases involving employment and administrative law, and general tort actions.

Prior to this most recent role, Ms. Marquez spent 15 years in public service. She was a Deputy Attorney General in the Office of the Attorney General of Hawaii and the First Assistant Attorney General (Tort Division) for the Colorado Attorney General. In the Clinton Administration in Washington, D.C., she was the Assistant Secretary for International Trade in the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chief Counsel of the Economic Development Administration, and White House Liaison at the U.S. Department of State. Earlier, she was a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Foreign Service, stationed in the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Ms. Marquez graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor's degree in International Politics from Georgetown University, and she graduated with honors and as an Editor of the Law Review of the University of Maryland School of Law.

Surely, someone with that resume can find a legal loophole to slake the city’s thirst for First Fridays. – Patricia Calhoun.

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