Angry Hannemann
disputes liquor deal

The mayor wants the panel's outgoing
leader to work and not collect paid leave

If you want to get paid, you're going to have to work.

That was Mayor Mufi Hannemann's simple message yesterday to outgoing Liquor Commission administrator Wallace Weatherwax, whose tenure was tainted by several scandals, including the conviction of eight former liquor inspectors for bribery, a lawsuit, and a city audit critical of management of the agency.

Weatherwax is now on a three-month paid leave prior to retirement.

"I'm not going to be bullied by a hired gun that's going to tell us how the city taxpayers dollars are going to be spent," an angry Hannemann said. "Mr. Weatherwax and his attorney need to understand that if city taxpayers' dollars is going to go to a salary, he needs to work for that salary."

Weatherwax won't be allowed to stay at home, Hannemann said, and will be required to report to work possibly at the Corporation Counsel's office.

Not so fast, said Weatherwax's attorney, Eric Seitz.

Seitz warned the mayor not to interfere in an agreement reached by his client with the Liquor Commission. That agreement allows Weatherwax to remain at home and assist the commission in any work related to the transition to a new administrator.

"He's not going to work at the Corporation Counsel's office," Seitz said. "If the mayor wants to terminate the agreement, then it will be my choice whether to sue him for interfering with the agreement or whether to move to enforce the agreement."

Some city officials had been pressing the Liquor Commission to fire Weatherwax or force him to resign.

Instead, Weatherwax reached an agreement with the commission last week that allowed him to retire on Nov. 1. He also agreed not to file any legal claims against the city.

The agreement also said Weatherwax would "no longer be present" at the commission office.

But Hannemann wasn't happy with the deal.

City Managing Director Jeff Coelho had a quick answer to Seitz's comments: "Should Mr. Weatherwax choose not to work as it gets defined in the next few days, then the city may choose not to pay him."

City officials said that Weatherwax's interim duties have not been finalized but there are a backlog of liquor licensing prosecutions.

At issue in the written agreement is a section which says: "During his administration leave ending Oct. 31, 2005, Weatherwax has agreed to be available to assist the Honolulu Liquor Commission through transition, should the Commission so desire."

Weatherwax has more than 20 years of experience as a government attorney, including stints as an assistant U.S. attorney, deputy prosecutor and deputy corporation counsel advising the Liquor Commission.

"I know there's work to do and I know he has experience as an attorney," commission Chairman Dennis Enomoto said.

City Corporation Counsel Carrie Okinaga said the written agreement does not say Weatherwax would be allowed to work from home. She said he would be assigned to assist the commission.

"As part of the settlement, he's made himself available to do what the Liquor Commission so desires," Okinaga said. "There's no question that everybody wants him to work."

But Okinaga also said that she would like to talk to Seitz.

Hannemann said Weatherwax's assignments will be commensurate with his legal background but won't include setting policy or managing the agency day-to-day.

"Now if they challenge it, it's their call but I believe we're on solid (legal) footing," the mayor said about forcing Weatherwax to show up for work.

"What law school did he go to?" Seitz asked, in response to the mayor's statements. "The next move is his."

City & County of Honolulu

Honolulu Liquor Commission

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