All Frank Wanca wanted to do was explain to the Liquor Control Adjudication Board what he saw as a flaw in the way LC personnel alert liquor license holders that they’ve committed a violation.
At the Mar. 6 board hearing, Wanca repeatedly admitted that an employee of his establishment—Kala Mart in Kihei—had sold alcohol to a minor back in the summer of 2007, and that he was sorry and would plead no contest to the charge.
But, Wanca said, it was crazy for the LC to have given his employee—the same one busted for selling booze to a minor—notification of the violation. As a result, Wanca said, he had no knowledge of the incident until just a month ago. “What incentive does the employee have to tell their employer?” Wanca asked the board members.
Unfortunately for Wanca, the board is notoriously hostile to anyone who dares openly criticize either the methods or the motivations of anyone in the LC. Members reacted with predictable harshness.
“When you put someone in charge, they’re responsible,” board member Glen Kunitake told Wanca. “The blame is not on the Liquor Department. The blame is on the guy who hired the employee. He is your representative when you’re absent. Period.”
Wanca said he understood that, but then Board chairman Donald Fujii started in on him for failing to review surveillance footage the night of the incident. “You said it was his first time?” Fujii asked. “As a business person, that’s when I’d review the tape.”
Even after the board deliberated and announced a fine of $2,000 ($1,000 suspended pending no further violations for a year) board member Jerrybeth DeMello tore into Wanca.
“Mr. Wanca, when you leave your establishment, you leave responsibility to them,” she said.
Only board member Joe Tanaka seemed to acknowledge that Wanca might have a point. “We checked the procedures, and we feel the procedures are okay,” he said. “But we’ll inform the department of our concerns.”