If there’s anything the Maui County Department of Liquor Control has in abundance—besides archaic rules, petty violations and contradictory precedents—it’s irony. And a shining example of that irony came near the end of the Liquor Commission’s contentious Apr. 11 hearing.
Let me set the scene: the commission has just voted to junk a petition brought to them by a group of determined citizens who want to see a liberalization of the county’s rules governing dancing at nightclubs. Stunned at the accusing questions, arguments and even insults various commissioners hurled at them during the public comment portion of the hearing, the citizens have filed out of the hearing room. With the public gallery empty (save the Akaku camera and me), one commissioner then turned to LC Director Franklyn Silva and asked what the bars and restaurants around the county think of the rules governing dancing.
Never mind that the commission had just told a bunch of citizens there was no need to reexamine the county’s prohibition on dancing outside of specially marked dance floors. Now, suddenly, as if none of the preceding hearing had taken place, the commissioners wanted to know what the licensees thought.
“I could send a letter to them,” Silva said. “And then report back to the commission.”
The commissioners all thought that was a swell idea. And that afternoon, Silva drafted a brief survey—quoting the appropriate part of the liquor rules dealing with dancing—and immediately sent it to the county’s bars and restaurants.
“Have you encountered any problems with this rule?” the survey asks. “Would you like to see this rule amended? Has this rule assisted you in maintaining control of your premises for the health, safety and welfare of your patrons and employees?”
All great questions. Too bad the Liquor Commission has already decided they don’t want to hold any further hearings on dancing.