Serious question: is there a more useless group of people on Maui besides the Maui County Liquor Commission? For months now the star chamber that approves liquor licenses and supposedly oversees the LC Director has been unusually feckless. And now the panel’s difficulty in finding a new director to replace longtime boss Frank Silva, who retired back in the fall, is threatening to stretch on into the spring.
Presented with four applicants–and there were only four applicants, which tells you something–the Commission was all set to approve one at its meeting yesterday. But that didn’t happen, The Maui News reported today.
“The commission met in a closed executive session for about 25 minutes,” the paper reported. “Back in open session, commission Chairman Robert Tanaka announced that none of the applicants had received a ‘majority’ of support from commission members. So, he said, the commission would defer the appointment of a new director, which would be taken up by the ‘new commission.’ It would re-interview the candidates and then vote again, he said.”
Unbelievable. When first told that Silva was retiring, Tanaka and the Commission huddled up in secret–in defiance of the state’s open meetings law–and picked one of their own: Dana “son of former LC Director Joe” Souza. There was no public call for applicants, no open vetting of Souza. It’s kinda like how decisions are made in Cuba, except with less cigar smoke.
When MauiTime, residents and at least one public official cried foul, the commission backed down slightly–they did a do-over, but still gave the job to Souza without issuing a call for applicants. Then, just a day or so before he was to take over, Souza suddenly declined the job–forcing the commission to finally do what they should have done months earlier (Souza never responded to MauiTime‘s call for comment, and has never spoken publicly about his decision to decline the position).
Of the four individuals who stepped forward to replace Silva, three had some nepotistic tie to the department–long a feature of the LC. Layne Silva is the son of Frank Silva. Former Deputy Director Glenn Mukai’s daughter Karilee Yoshizawa is a fairly high ranking LC official. And then Yoshizawa herself applied for the job. Only current Deputy Director Traci Fujita-Villarosa lacked some sort of nepotistic connection, but she also barely meets the County Charter’s five-year law enforcement experience requirement for the job.
The Commission’s inability to find someone to replace Silva betrays their utter uselessness (The Maui News seemed shocked–SHOCKED!–that the Commission did their voting in secret, like the panel has ever shown anything less than utter contempt for transparency and public disclosure). When the “new” panel convenes in April, just two of the nine members will be new–Brenda Lee and Nane Aluli, who are replacing Frank Sylva and Zachary Paz. But hey, starting the whole process over again is infinitely better than their preferred method of simply handing the department to one of their cronies.