Arguments between Liquor Control Adjudication Board chairman Shigeto “Mustard” Murayama and rookie board member Lance Collins are pretty routine things at the monthly hearings. Collins will challenge some long-held board “rule”—that occasionally has no discernible statute backing it up—or challenge the deputy prosecuting attorney’s case, Murayama will look at him the way a parent looks at a misbehaving child, and then everything will proceed as if Collins never said a word.
The Feb. 2, 2006 Adjudication hearing was different. At about two in the afternoon, during the first of two over-service cases involving Makawao restaurant and nightclub (and Maui Time advertiser) Casanova, public bitterness between Collins and Murayama seemed to reach a new crescendo.
It started when Casanova General Manager Steven Burgelin tried to introduce in his defense the May 4, 2004 decision by Judge Joel August ordering the LC board to go back and review its then recent over-service conviction against Kahalui Ale House. Burgelin’s move seemed to send Murayama over the edge.
“How did you know that there was such a thing?” he asked Burgelin. “I have a suspicion that this was presented to you.”
Burgelin said he learned of August’s decision when he reviewed the minutes of the Dec. 1, 2005 LC hearing, when attorney Dave Jorgensen successfully got the decision entered into evidence for his defense of Moose McGillycuddy’s. But Murayama acted as if August’s order was a secret document, and shut Burgelin down.
“That is not to be presented,” Murayama said. “If I’m challenged in court that’s fine.”
That set Collins off, who demanded to know why the Adjudication Board kept “picking on” Casanova. “I don’t know why we’re treating them unfairly,” he said. “We’re playing games with their rights.”
Normally quiet board member Tami Nascimento then exploded at Collins, demanding that he not include the rest of the board in his tirade about allegedly treating various licensees “unfairly.” Member M. D. Alborano said, “amen” while an LC investigator sitting in the back of the room quietly clapped in approval.
Looking stunned by the response—the rest of the board rarely, if ever comes to his aid—Collins said nothing as Murayama moved the hearing onto other things.