HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Liquor Commission is being asked by two Honolulu City Councilmembers to make internal changes in order to restore public trust, the calls coming as the commission faced lawsuits and complaints from businesses alleging violations. 

In a resolution introduced by Honolulu City Councilmember Ester Kiaaina and Council Chair Tommy Waters, the city elected leaders urged the Honolulu Liquor Commission to take steps to improve the trust in the department. 

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The council members call on the liquor commission to establish an internal affairs unit selected by the City administration to quickly and impartially review allegations of inappropriate behavior by officials and employees of the commission. 

The resolution also wants the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services to review the allocation and use of the commission’s funds from liquor violation fines. 

Scarlet Honolulu owner Robbie Baldwin has been in legal battles with the commission over violation allegations against his staff for years. He sees this as a step forward. 

Baldwin said, “I really do hope that this brings about the positive change and reform that we’ve been looking for desperately now for years.”


But he said past issues with liquor commission employees have fallen onto deaf ears. 

Baldwin said, “We have been pushing to get a third party law firm in there that is experienced in governmental audit, to really get in and see where the problems are and how we even got to this place.” 

The resolution is asking for a report from the commission to include provisions that allow commission investigators to close licensed establishments for 24 hours without prior notice or opportunity for a hearing.

It also asks for a plan for formulating new policies and procedures to address public trust and the commission’s methods of overseeing the work performance of commission managers. 

A report would be expected no later than 60 days after the resolution’s adoption.

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Meanwhile, the Honolulu Liquor Commission Acting Administrator Anna Hirai said the full commission still needs to discuss the resolution and would reserve further comment until such time.