Some of the most interesting moments at Liquor Control meetings happen on the margins, when board members and department officials aren’t directly addressing the cases at hand, but other, tangential topics that arise from them.
Case in point: while considering the fate of Paia Shell at the September Adjudication hearing, Chairman Donald Fujii asked Director Frank Silva about the success rate of the department’s minor decoy program. Silva responded that it’s more than 90 percent.
I was taken aback, until I realized Silva was defining “success” not as a bust but a non-bust: when a minor decoy (his cop chaperone in tow) enters an establishment, attempts to purchase liquor and is turned away.
Granted, that definition is in keeping with the department’s stated mission: “[T]o protect the health, safety, and welfare of the general public by regulating and controlling the liquor industry…”
But ultimately, what this means is that if the minor decoy program is fully “successful,” it ceases to be relevant. Not only that, such a scenario calls into question the usefulness of the Adjudication Board as a whole. Put it this way: without minor decoy stings, the board would have considered a whopping three cases this year.
Perhaps the LC’s punitive arm truly does want to see itself made irrelevant—anything’s possible. A more plausible explanation is that calling non-busts a “success” puts a happy spin on things, and sustains the myth that the department is looking out for the greater good. Maui Time Weekly, Jacob Shafer