The Maui County Department of Liquor Control has a rather sinister reputation. They’re seen as tough, uncompromising, even harsh. Now when I’ve spoken with LC Director Frank Silva and a few of his agents, they’ve always insisted that they’re just enforcing the state and county liquor laws; just making sure bars and restaurants serve alcoholic beverages in a safe and responsible manner.
But every once in a while, you read a little item here or there that blows that responsibility out of the water and shows that, when it wants to be, the LC can be extremely petty, even childish.
Case in point is a pending matter involving Lahaina Cafe. The place is fairly new, and boasts a solid happy hour. Anyway, when we received the agenda for today’s May 3, 2012 Liquor Control Adjudication Board meeting, we were surprised and a bit saddened to see Lahaina Cafe’s name. But when we saw what the charges were, then a little bit of disgust crept in.
They’re up on two charges, to which they’re pleading no contest. The first is something we see fairly often: “fail to exercise due care to ensure that no person or employee, while on duty, be permitted to consume any alcoholic beverages…” The second one is, to be fair, unusual:
“On April 20, 2011, at approximately 10:17 p.m., LAHAINA CAFE LLC dba LAHAINA CAFE, a dispenser general licensee, did fail to have available on its licensed premises a timesheet showing in English the legal first name and surname of all employees, and time record entries when the employee reports on duty and again when the employee goes off duty, contrary to Section 08-101-70(f) of the Rules of the Liquor Commission, County of Maui.”
Timesheet violation! It’s a wonder the Maui Police weren’t called in for back-up.
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ARAKAWA IS A CONTENDER!
Every now and then something blows up in Maui politics that just stops the world cold. Former County Councilman Wayne Nishiki insisting to the MauiTime staff that he never took developer contributions (when in fact he had) was one such moment. Former Westside Republican state Representative Brian Blundell getting busted for soliciting a (male) vice cop in a Honolulu men’s room was another. Those are sensational, even criminal acts, but completely above board political maneuvering can be just as shocking. Like last week’s surprise International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 142 endorsement of Mayor Alan Arakawa.
“He has shown tremendous leadership in leading Maui County forward during this difficult and trying times [sic],” ILWU Maui Division Director William Kennison said in an Apr. 26 press release. “The Maui Division along with the Longshore Division feel that he understands what is needed to keep our people employed.”
I found this surprising for three reasons. First, because Arakawa is a Republican and–at least as far as the national party platform is concerned–diametrically opposed to all things organized labor. Considering that Maui politics tends to be skewed for a variety of reasons (Republicans often have a better environmental record than Democrats, for instance), this isn’t so shocking.
The timing of the endorsement is another matter. Arakawa won’t run for reelection until 2014, which is two full years away. Endorsing him (or any candidate) so far in the future runs the risk that some event will break in the next 24 months that makes said endorsement seem shortsighted or just plain foolish. For Kennison, the risk was worth it.
“Our bylaws say I can only help endorsed candidates,” Kennison told me the day after the endorsement. “This was our idea, and now we can do fundraisers for him.”
Kennison said Arakawa has been a great friend to labor: putting union members on county boards and commissions, supporting alternative energy proposals and pursuing greater film industry interest in the county. “We’re very pleased with him,” Kennison said, adding that he’s noticed a “tremendous difference” in Arakawa’s policies now over those he pushed during his first mayoral term.
But most surprising about the endorsement is the fact two years ago, during the 2010 Maui County Mayor’s election, ILWU Local 142 endorsed then-Mayor Charmaine Tavares’ bid for reelection. And in very strong terms, too.
“Mayor Tavares has stood by our labor employees and important industries such as tourism and agriculture from day one,” said Kennison in a Mar. 8, 2010 Maui News story. “Her support has not wavered. The fact that she was endorsed at all three review levels shows that we consider her leadership important to the future of Maui County.”
But that was then, Kennison said. Today, he believes it’s vital to get the rank and file union members out trumpeting Arakawa’s name immediately. And that meant a full, official endorsement.
Something tells me this isn’t the last we’re going to hear about this, if for no other reason than the fact that ILWU Local 142 Division Clerk Joycelyn Victorino is married to Maui County Councilman Mike Victorino, who also happens to be the most prominent possible opponent for Arakawa in the 2014 mayoral election.
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MAUI NEWS SHRINKS A BIT MORE
We live in a time when newspapers get smaller. There are many reasons for this–the rise of the Internet, increasing sophistication of computers, and so on–but it is a fact of life in the world of news media.
And it looks like The Maui News isn’t protected from that reality. According to stories that ran in the paper’s Sunday edition, Editor in Chief David Hoff is retiring, effective May 18, Entertainment/Features Editor Rick Chatenever is retiring, effective May 8 and News Editor Lee Imada will become Managing Editor, a post that hasn’t existed since 1991.
For a paper the size of the News, that’s a lot of change that would have dire implications, but I’m not so sure. First of all, Chatenever will apparently continue to write his “Making the Scene” column that runs on Thursdays. And Hoff, though the paper’s top editing boss since 1992, was always something of a mystery to me. In fact, until the Sunday article announcing his retirement, I’d never before laid eyes on the man.