purses women Mukai subject of workplace violence probe
Maui County Liquor Director Glenn Mukai is shown during a Liquor Commission meeting in 2016. Mukai was the subject of a special meeting Friday to investigate a workplace violence complaint lodged by Bill Pacheco, head of the enforcement division. The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
WAILUKU A violence in the workplace complaint against Maui County Liquor Control Director Glenn Mukai was the subject of a special meeting of the Liquor Control Commission on Friday.
Although the agenda for the meeting did not provide the name of the object of the complaint or any details, Bill Pacheco, head of the enforcement division, told The Maui News that he made the complaint. Pacheco could not provide specific details in the complaint but was critical of Mukai and his treatment of his fellow co workers.
hasn been enjoyable for our workplace, Pacheco said of Mukai becoming director in June 2016. you go to work, you have an expectation to do your job and freedom to do your job. You have certain rights as an employee, and you want to make sure an employer doesn over step their bounds.
I deal with my employees, I make sure I treat them with respect that they earned as colleagues and that what I think is missing from all this. former worker, who spoke to The Maui News on Friday on condition of anonymity, also described a similar work environment created by Mukai, as well as his daughter, Karilee Yoshizawa, who is head of the administrative services division.
was a very horrible toxic environment for me, the former worker said. any other employees could speak freely I don doubt for a second they would say similar things, but they all vested and hopeful something will change and it be better.
I hit my breaking point. I couldn wait around for it to be better. Chairman Bob Tanaka, Vice Chairman Darren Lopez as well as members Leon Bolosan, Nane Aluli and Roy Umeno were present at the special meeting. Dawn Bicoy and Nicole DeRego were absent, while Dana Souza submitted his letter of resignation to Mayor Alan Arakawa.
I am unable to complete my term as a commission member due to other commitments and responsibilities and would like to respectfully resign immediately, Souza wrote. have appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to serve with my fellow commission members over the past few years and feel honored to have been among such talented individuals. term was to end March 31; the son of a former liquor department director has not attended a meeting since Aug. 9. It was his decision to decline the director position that opened the door for the appointment of Mukai.
Friday meeting was held behind closed doors for about two hours and included Corporation Counsel Patrick Wong and two other attorneys. Wong and commissioners said after the meeting that they could not speak about the complaint.
First Deputy Corporation Counsel Ed Kushi confirmed that an independent investigation of the workplace violence complaint was completed and that the commission could take action at the meeting. Kushi noted that whatever action taken is confidential, and it was not clear whether the commission made any decisions Friday.
Despite filing the complaint, Pacheco said he was not allowed to see the details of the investigation and would not be informed of actions taken by the commission. He said he asked his union and county attorneys for guidance, but they did not provide much information.
was under the assumption that because I the complainant, I would at least know if it was sustained or not, he said. would I know if there any solution or remedy? My thing is to let the process play out, but so far it been difficult to trust the process as a regular citizen because of the ongoing issues with information and Sunshine Law allegations that have plagued the commission. early 2017, Mukai and the commission riled up the community by passing rule changes, including the elimination of blackout periods for the retail sale of liquor. Members of the public complained that the rule changes, approved by the commission and later repealed, were not revealed to the public sufficiently.
While licensees and residents have criticized Mukai since he took over the department, the commission has repeatedly defended him. Earlier this week, commissioners sent a one page letter to Arakawa stating that Mukai earned average marks in all categories of the evaluation, including leadership in the department relationships, community relations, standards of professionalism and management of the department administrative and budgetary responsibilities.
Commissioners at Friday meeting found nothing wrong with the review, which was about a paragraph long, and declined to provide any more details about how they came up with their rating.
not for public record at this point, Aluli said of the commission additional evaluation records. needed to get up to the mayor, got up to the mayor. criticisms stem largely from major rule changes that included allowing 24 hour retail sales of liquor and imposing stringent requirements on nonprofit groups seeking single event licenses to serve alcohol at fundraising events. Hundreds of residents, community groups, law enforcement and nonprofit officials have testified over the past year against changes proposed by the department.
Aluli said the commission considered lots of testimony but felt the above average review was justified.
were other areas he performed very well in so . . . it balances it out, he said.
Tanaka said that the majority of the criticisms of the director was fueled by misinformation to the public.
Pacheco, who has been with the department for nearly three decades, said commissioners spoke to employees, including him, as part of the director evaluation. He was not surprised to see the positive review of Mukai.
don want to lose their jobs, he said. don want to get pulled into controversy; it not something most people want to go through. As far as work, you come to work and like to be treated fairly, but it difficult trying to get that here.
almost like dynasty building. I think the director sees certain people as threats just as a nature of our positions. grievances have been filed by the Hawaii Government Employees Association against the liquor director office during Mukai tenure, Pacheco said. Last month, Deputy Director Mark Honda abruptly resigned.
always had it share of negative press over the years. I very aware of it, Pacheco said. look at the intensity of it now. It like one after another. It every couple weeks you hear something or see something in the paper. former worker said that it was a challenge working for Yoshizawa, who was aggressively combative as well as off putting, very micromanaging and demeaning. had sort of always been given preferential treatment, but the extent of it increased heavily when her father became director. could not be reached for comment Friday. Yoshizawa, who attended the meeting, declined comment on the claims against her.
The former employee, who also worked under former director Frank Sylva, said the changed when the commission selected Mukai over former Deputy Director Traci Fujita Villarosa. Mukai fired Fujita Villarosa, who now works in Council Services, shortly after he took office.
The former worker felt Sylva cared about his employees and would seek to resolve any issues brought to him. She believed Fujita Villarosa would have improved the department and its public image.
Mukai positive review did not come as a surprise to the former worker, but the former worker still felt by the average rating.
seem to have all the power, and it doesn seem to matter what anyone says, the former worker said.
At the Maui County Council meeting Friday, the director review was referred to the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.
Committee Chairwoman Yuki Lei Sugimura said she plans to prepare a resolution requesting council Chairman Mike White initiate a performance audit of the department. Sugimura has previously been critical of the department for its handling of nonprofits and treating them like with overly invasive background checks.