The first case on the Apr. 5, 2007 Liquor Control Adjudication Board docket dealt with the Circle K Express/Carl’s Jr. in Ma`alaea. Pleading no contest to one count of selling alcohol to a minor—their third such violation in five years—the store’s owners were facing a mandatory license suspension of up to 30 days.
Donald Fujii, the newly elected board chairman for the next year, was the only member of the panel to ask the owners a question during the hearing.
“This is like a Minute Stop?” he said, admitting to the owners, his colleagues on the adjudication board and everyone else in the conference room that he—the guy responsible for running all Adjudication Board hearings—had no idea who the licensee was.
Now it’s tempting to blame Fujii’s relative inexperience on the Adjudication Board—he’d been on the panel just a year when he was voted chairman—but that’s a bogus argument. In addition to spending the years 2001-2006 as a member of the Liquor Commission, Fujii is a lifelong Maui resident.
Fujii graduated from Lahainaluna. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, he owned and managed the Olowalu General Store. He spent 20 years as a purchasing agent with the County of Maui. In fact, Fujii’s undoubtedly passed the Circle K many, many times on his trips to Lahaina, where he owns property and serves as president of the Lahaina Jodo Mission.
But none of that apparently mattered now. For the owners of the Ma`alaea Circle K outlet sitting in the dock, pleading for leniency—they ultimately got a 15-day liquor license suspension—it was now painfully clear that the guy in charge of their deliberation had done minimal, if any, preparation for the hearing.
Was it that Fujii didn’t have time to look into the case, despite the fact that it had been on the board agenda for a week prior to the hearing? Or does he simply have little interest or knowledge of the liquor licensees he judges every month? Now those are questions worth exploring.
By the way, Akaku videotaped the hearing where the Liquor Commission so rudely slapped down a few citizens who dared criticize the county’s anti-dance regulations. And you can program the station yourself to watch the LC’s antics at your leisure. Just go to www.akaku.org, click on Programming,then on XTV. The name of the program is “Liquor Commission 4-11-07”and the program number is 377. Enjoy!