Council wants liquor
reform first

The committee will likely delay
raising liquor license fees

A City Council committee is expected to delay increasing liquor license fees after members noted the Honolulu Liquor Commission hasn't done enough yet to restore public trust.

"I feel, and I think the public feels, that the Liquor Commission is still a troubled agency," Councilman Charles Djou said.

City & County of Honolulu

Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi said she probably will again hold off approving the commission's request to raise liquor license fees, which is scheduled to be heard today before her committee.

"I guess they are trying to clean up their act and that's what we're waiting to see," Kobayashi said.

In May, the committee deferred a vote on the fees to force the commission's top two managers to resign.

Djou, chairman of the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee, asked the Liquor Commission for a presentation on its strategic plan. "What is their plan to get the public confidence back?" Djou said.

Djou said Commission Chairman Dennis Enomoto called him last week, saying he was prepared to brief him in private about the commission's plans. But the commission was not prepared to give a public presentation, Djou said he was told.

"What's the problem? Why they can't come before the City Council to answer questions is beyond me," Djou said.

Enomoto said the commission does have a framework for its strategic plan but has not finalized the details. "We have the basic thing. We're tweaking it."

Enomoto said he could not make a presentation to Djou's committee because of conflicting schedules, but he expects to make a presentation to the committee within the next month.

"We're making great progress, I think," Enomoto said. "It's unfortunate the timing didn't work out."

The commission was also sidetracked from working on the plan when issues surrounding former Administrator Wallace Weatherwax came up during the summer.

Weatherwax has agreed to retire effective Nov. 1 as part of a negotiated settlement with the commission.

And while Weatherwax's pending departure is welcome, Council members say that's not enough.

"It is an incomplete job. They have taken the first step in the right direction," Djou said. "But that was just a step. I want some real clear commitment that they are going down the path to reform."

City & County of Honolulu

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