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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Clean up corruption without federal help

The Liquor Commission can't seem to come out from under a cloud of scandal, but that doesn't mean we should give up on our efforts to clean it up.

Liquor enforcement supervisor James Rodenhurst, along with Aloha Stadium security official Herbert Naone, has been indicted on charges of extorting about $500 a week from an owner of two nightclubs between May 2004 and January 2005.

The public certainly hasn't had time to forget the commission's last infamous spectacle: the prosecution of eight former inspectors on bribery charges public servants who either pleaded guilty or were found guilty.

U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said that when the earlier case broke in 2002, he asked for tighter controls. At last, there is some movement toward reform at the top of the commission, but the Rodenhurst case should remind Honolulu leaders that the scrutiny had better be thorough. And ultimately, Mayor Mufi Hannemann should be watching to see that this happens.

The new administrator, Dewey Kim Jr., has his work cut out for him. And Kubo issued a warning that the commission could come under federal review if the housecleaning isn't done.

That was probably a necessary threat, considering the persistence of scandal. Let's hope he doesn't have to follow through.

Must we always have a federal takeover to force change within Hawai'i's government institutions? The Liquor Commission ought to grow up. We shouldn't have to hire Uncle Sam as a baby sitter.