Really, none of us should be surprised. It was bound to happen. Somehow, by the grace of Providence or the gods or the alignment of the planets, the Maui County Liquor Commission is now the envy of the rest of the state.
The Feb. 26 agenda of the five-member Honolulu Liquor Commission—which meets every week and holds sway over vastly more bars, restaurants and establishments than our beloved Maui panel—includes a new rule that will give the panel greater power when it grants new licenses. The new rule, as outlined in a Jan. 17, 2008 public notice, authorizes “the Commission to place restrictions or conditions on a license to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.”
If this sounds familiar, don’t be surprised. And it’s no coincidence.
According to the Feb. 20 Honolulu Advertiser story “Some fear rule would give liquor panel total power,” the rule “is patterned after a Maui Liquor Control Commission rule.” What’s more, the Advertiser paraphrased Honolulu Liquor Commission Assistant Administrator Anna Hirai as saying the current Maui Liquor Commission’s authority to place restrictions on new licensees “seems to be working.”
If you think the LC is correct to put into an establishment’s license that it can’t play live music past 10 p.m. because too many neighbors complained about having to hear jazz, then it’s working just fine.
If you think LC investigators writing up establishments for having too many people in the aisles—what most would consider to be the purview of the fire department—is fine, then the law is indeed working.
And if you think that it’s just dandy when appointed panels interpret phrases like “protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public” as widely as possible, then the Honolulu Liquor Commission’s new law will be just dandy.
Good luck, guys. You’re going to need it.