Near the end of the Aug 9, 2006 Liquor Commission hearing, panel member Zachary Helm, who’s sat there since 2003, held up a sheet of paper included in that morning’s packet of materials given to each commissioner.
“What’s this?” he asked Liquor Control Director Franklyn Silva.
It was a copy of a public notice that ran in The Maui News a few weeks ago, alerting residents to a hearing on the department’s infamous Card Everyone Who Wants To Buy Booze rule. The hearing will take place after the usual licensing matters discussed during commission’s Sept. 13, 2006 meeting.
The rule’s been on the books for years, but only recently has attracted widespread popular and media attention—mostly from senior citizens outraged that they have to show identification before getting their cocktail. Many island stores, bars and restaurants have been fined thousands of dollars each for getting caught in sting operations designed to see if clerks and servers routinely check patron IDs.
Commissioner Ron McOmber asked Silva if holding this hearing would “quell” the growing opposition to the rule.
“Oh, yeah,” Silva said. He then told the panel that his office hasn’t received a lot of complaints, but has heard from hotels asking about the rule. He said he’s also told some who call complaining to put their thoughts in writing in lieu of coming to the hearing.
It’s unclear how much spoken or written testimony the Liquor Commission—which approves all county liquor rules—will take into account when they start discussing the rule. Probably not a lot, given the commission’s general distaste toward the whole controversy in the first place.
Commissioner Frances Meshulam asked if the panel would be limiting testimony from citizens to just three minutes each—a perfectly legal though nonetheless questionable rule.
“Definitely,” Moniz said, smiling.