Hey, Maui County: if you need more evidence that the people pulling the strings over the liquor department are inept fools , look no further than the Liquor Commission. It now looks like they’re backing off their Oct. 7 appointment of one of their own–Dana Souza–to assume the mantle of Liquor Control Director, a post held not so long ago by Dana’s own father Joe.
The reason, for anyone who read MauiTime‘s Oct. 16 story “Did the Maui County Liquor Commission violate the Sunshine law when selecting a new director?” is simple: the appointment most likely violated the state Sunshine Law, which requires public panels like the Liquor Commission to act openly and honestly. The Commission, which had posted on its Oct. 7 agenda that it would only discuss the “process” of selecting a new director, proceeded to just give the job to Souza.
Because when you’re get put on the Liquor Commission (named by the mayor, approved by the County Council) and no one says anything when you zone out at the mere mention of words like “agenda,” “open meeting” and “the law,” why bother with acting openly and honestly in front of the public? Why not just give the job of running the entire county liquor department–responsible for a $3 million budget–to your crony and screw whatever the agenda said?
Well, someone over at the LC apparently gives a damn about the state Sunshine Law, because on Wednesday, Oct. 28, the Liquor Commission will hold a big do-over on the director selection. This morning they posted the agenda for a “Special Meeting” on that date, and it’s a doozy:
A. Discussion regarding the Commission’s October 7, 2015 action to waive the selection process for the appointment of the Director of the Department of Liquor Control.
B. Discussion and action regarding the selection process for the appointment of the Director of the Department of Liquor Control pursuant to Section 08-102-36 of the Rules Governing Administrative Practices and Procedures of the Liquor Commission and Liquor Control Adjudication Board of the County of Maui.
C. Discussion regarding the Commission’s October 7, 2015 action appointing the Director of the Department of Liquor Control.
D. Discussion and action regarding the appointment of the Director of the Department of Liquor Control pursuant to Section 08-102-36 of the Rules Governing Administrative Practices and Procedures of the Liquor Commission and Liquor Control Adjudication Board of the County of Maui.
Translation for all that legalese: We screwed up, and now we’re going to start following the law. The commission might still give the top job to Souza, but hopefully now they’ll do so in a way that’s open to the public, rather than shows contempt for it.
As you’d expect, getting someone over at the LC to take responsibility for this mess is difficult. Ed Kushi, the county attorney who advises the Liquor Commission on legal matters, never responded to my inquiry on whether the panel violated the Sunshine Law when it appointed Souza. And Traci Fujita Villarosa, the LC’s deputy director (who is also a former Corporation Counsel attorney)–who presumably could still get the director’s job–had no comment.
“I really don’t know,” she said when I asked her to explain the new Oct. 28 Special Meeting agenda. “I’m kind of out of the loop.”
Villarosa did say she’d have Liquor Commission chairperson Robert Tanaka talk to us, but as of press time we’ve heard nothing from him.
Photo of sunrise over Haleakala: National Park Service/Wikimedia Commons