NYC Attorney Expected to Rise to Top Spot After SLA Boss Fired: Report

The State Liquor Authority, which has been plagued by manpower shortages and long delays before bars and restaurants can get new liquor licenses, is headed for a shakeup. Governor Kathy Hochul, has reportedly fired the current chairman Vincent Bradley and plans to replace him with New York City attorney Lily Fan. A former co-secretary of Community Board 4 on the west side of Manhattan, Fan will be the first woman and first Asian in the job.

Albany /
| 02 Jun 2023 | 11:30

Vincent Bradley, the chairman of the problem plagued State Liquor Authority, has reportedly been fired after an eight year run. Lily Fan, a prominent New York City litigation attorney and a past member of Community Board 4 on the West Side, is expected to be named to fill the post, according to a report in the Albany Times Union on June 2. She has been one of the three SLA commissioners.

In addition to her law career, the Hong Kong-born attorney has been deeply involved in Broadway and Off Broadway plays sharing a Tony Award as a co-producer of the Broadway hit musical Hadestown.

Neither Bradley nor Fan could be reached for comment.

The first tip off that something was amiss came when the SLA posted on its web site, “The June 7, 2023 meeting of the full board has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances...”

It offered no explanation as to what the “unforeseen circumstances” might be but said the meeting would be consolidated with the June 21 meeting, by which time, presumably, a new chairman will be officially announced. Neither Bradley nor Fan could be reached for comment.

SLA officials did not return calls or emails on June 2.

Fan, a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, would be the first Asian American to head the SLA and the first woman to hold the job. Currently a NYC resident, she was born in Hong Kong and speaks fluent Cantonese. She joined Community Board 4 in Manhattan in 2015 and served as the board’s co-Secretary from 2016 to 2017.

Fan was previously a lawyer at the law firms of Shearman & Sterling LLP and Morrison & Foerster LLP, specializing in white-collar criminal litigation and securities class actions, according to the SLA web site. She also served as Legislative Counsel for the Standing Committee on Social Services in the New York State Senate in 2010.

She founded Scandobean Productions LLC, a theatrical and film production company, in 2010 and in addition to her 2019 Tony, she was also involved in the documentary “Weiner” about the sex scandal that derailed former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s comeback bid as a candidate for NYC Mayor in 2013. The film received the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Bradley had one of his highest profile moments recently by famously feuding with Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan in recent months over the Garden’s use of facial recognition technology to bar attorneys who were suing the MSG owned venues including Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theater from entering the MSG facilities. The SLA had warned MSG Entertainment that it was in danger of losing its liquor license over the practice, which it deemed potentially discriminatory.

Dolan had sued the SLA but a Judge in April had tossed the MSG suit. seemingly handing Bradley a big win.

During Bradley’s tenure, the licensing period for bars and restaurants lengthened greatly, from a period of three or four months in the pre-COVID days. Some bar owners around Manhattan had told Straus News that were waiting up to a year or more for new licenses to be issued. The delays were costly because they had to pay rent without any bar revenue. In some cases restaurants would open without the ability to legally sell alcoholic beverages, beer or wine with meals and that also proved costly to establishments, since liquor sales were generally a source of greater profit than the food.

Further irking the pub and restaurant owners was the SLA practice to immediately cash their $1,500 application fee check--even though it could be a year or more before the SLA would issue a license.

Governor Kathy Hochul had made a big deal a year ago April by announcing an extra $2 million to the SLA budget that was going to be used to hire 30 more people to process applications. At the time, she said the time before a license was granted was 26 weeks. But the new hires did not solve the manpower shortages, insiders said, and the length of time to get a liquor license lengthened. Currently, the SLA web site says it is only starting the application review process for permits filed in October–which means there is an eight month delay before the review process is even started.

The legislature is said to be considering remaking the SLA after a commission last month called for a sweeping overhaul of the way the authority does business. One of the proposals before the legislature would allow supermarkets to sell wine, but it is unlikely to pass before the current session wraps up.

Bradley, whose agency was used to enforce COVID restrictions, did have his supporters, however.

“He’s one of the best chairmen I’ve worked with in 39 years,” Scott Wexler, the executive director of the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association, told the Times-Union.

The Times Union article pointed out that Bradley had been appointed to the office by Andrew Cuomo and many of Cuomo’s top department across state government have been broomed out by his successor Governor Kathy Hochul.

In addition to her career as a litigator with top law firms, Fan has been involved in theatrical productions on Broadway and Off Broadway after founding Scandobean Productions LLC in 2010. In 2019, Fan shared a Tony Award as a co-roducer of the hit Broadway musical Hadestown. She was also involved in the documentary “Weiner” about the sex scandal that derailed former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s comeback bid as a candidate for NYC Mayor in 2013 which received the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.