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Booze Blues Over

Local Matters: City Grants Parima Conditional Liquor License


Published October 31, 2007 at 3:49 p.m.

BURLINGTON - The City of Burlington and Parima Thai Restaurant co-owner Daryl Campney agreed to play nice last week - just one month after a debate over the city's decision to pull the restaurant's liquor license degenerated into allegations of racism, illegal dealings and bullying tactics on the part of City Hall.

In a 12-4 vote, Parima was granted a new liquor license at the October 22 City Council meeting. But due to a history of negligent payment of city taxes, conditions apply. In particular, the city will not tolerate any more unpaid bills. If Parima gets behind again, its license will be yanked.

"A liquor license is a privilege granted by the city," said Clarence Davis at last week's meeting. Davis is chairman of the Local Control Subcommittee, which makes recommendations to the City Council regarding liquor licenses. Noting that the Pearl Street restaurant had paid the city all negligent taxes and fees, he recommended the restaurant be granted a license again.

The city pulled Parima's license and entertainment permit in early September after repeated attempts to collect back taxes went ignored. As of August 24, just 13 days earlier, Treasurer's Office documents show the restaurant owed $21,556. After losing his license and permit, Campney emailed Seven Days and accused Davis of withholding approval from the restaurant because Campney and Parima co-owner Wanvadi Jotikasthira - his wife - are not black. Davis is the only African-American Burlington councilor.

But Campney was not confrontational Monday evening as he asked the council to approve his license. "We have paid every penalty, every fine," he said. "I have no pleasure in bringing Parima before you again . . . I need your help here."

Assistant City Attorney Nikki Fuller told the council that Parima is currently late on its August tax bill, but the payment has not fallen into negligent status. "You totally understand you are on a very short leash with the city?" City Council President Kurt Wright asked Campney. That is "crystal clear," he responded.