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Probe puts Liquor Commission chief on leave


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POSTED: Friday, December 11, 2009

The administrator of the Honolulu Liquor Commission believes he will be cleared of wrongdoing when an investigation that has put him on administrative leave is wrapped up.

Administrator Dewey Kim was placed on paid leave by the Liquor Commission during a special executive session Nov. 30.

“;It's a personnel matter; it's not a criminal issue,”; Commission Chairman Dennis Enomoto said yesterday. “;Because it's a personnel matter, we can't comment on anything at this time.”;

He said the commission will release a statement today and get an independent investigator to look into the case. He did not know how long the investigation will take.

Kim, 56, said he could not talk about the ongoing investigation, but said the case has nothing to do with several allegations of unethical conduct.

“;I think I will be cleared,”; he said. “;It's not a major thing. Maybe it's a major thing for the person that complained.”;

He said the investigation will probably be finished within two weeks.

“;It's a very isolated thing,”; he said.

He said allegations already proved false have resurfaced around his administrative leave. The allegations include his allowing abuse of overtime, mismanaging the agency and creating a conflict of interest by sending liquor inspectors to a school concert, he said.

He has faced dozens of complaints and allegations since becoming administrator in 2006 because he started to clean up the agency, he said.

The commission has been trying to improve its image after eight former liquor inspectors were indicted in 2002 and later convicted of taking bribes in exchange for overlooking violations.

Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou said he was “;troubled”; by the administrative leave and said the City Council should look again at taking away the Liquor Commission's enforcement duties and giving them to the police.

“;The recent news that the commission's chief administrator had to be placed on administrative leave further undermines the already weak public confidence in this agency,”; he said. “;The people deserve an immediate and full public accounting of what is going on with this current matter.”;

Djou, who represents Waikiki, said that his district has the most liquor licensees on the island.

He added he wants the administrator's position to be exempt from civil service rules, giving commissioners the power to fire the administrator.

Kim said it does not matter if his position were made exempt because if the board lost confidence in him, he would voluntarily leave.

“;I'll just walk out of the office,”; he said. “;If I'm messing up, then I'm gone.”;