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Maui Charter Commission to hold final meeting on Feb. 15

Maui Charter Commission Nov. 18, 2021 virtual meeting. PC: Maui Charter Commission / Akakū

The Maui Charter Commission once again conducted public meetings on Monday and Tuesday to hear testimony and deliberate on proposed County Charter amendments leading up to submission of its Draft Report to the County Council on Feb. 18.  

Commissioners will reconvene on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 9 a.m. to finalize their Draft Report.  The public is invited to join the meeting via the BlueJeans link on the Charter Commission website.  Written testimony is welcome; however, no oral testimony will be taken.

At the latest two meetings, the Commission further shortened the list of potential amendments to put before voters in the November election. By the end of Tuesday’s meeting, the original list of 85 proposed amendments was whittled down to 13 ballot proposals through combining proposals, forwarding proposals to the Council for action, or simply removing proposals from consideration.  

At the Monday meeting, several individuals and public officials testified on Proposal 15  pertaining to changes within the Planning Department.  Following public testimony and much discussion, the commission voted to accept a significantly modified version of the proposal, which originally replaced the existing the Maui Planning Commission with separate planning commissions for each community plan area.  

The modified proposal would add to the charter a requirement that each community plan area be represented on the Maui Planning Commission, and that community plans be reviewed every ten years. It also clarifies the order of community plan development and would allow that, pending state action, Kalaupapa be included within the Moloka‘i Planning Commission jurisdiction

After slight modifications to its verbiage, Commissioners also supported Proposal 21 for inclusion on the November ballot.  This proposal would authorize splitting the Department of Housing and Human Concerns into two distinct departments.  The newly created Department of Housing would include a Housing Development Advisory Board focused on affordable housing issues in the County including planning, financing, and development.  Additionally, department staff would include a liaison to the State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to better coordinate DHHL housing development with County functions such as infrastructure development.

On Tuesday, the Commission also voted to combine proposals 26 and 38 into a single proposal that focuses on the County’s Hawaiian cultural resources and responsibilities.  The proposal creates the Department of ʻŌiwi Resources which would be tasked with ensuring proper management of ‘Ōiwi (Native) cultural resources in the County by designing and implementing programs to care for and develop those resources.  

Additionally, the proposal would remove the English translation of the Hawaiʻi State motto from the Charter preamble and affirm that the County operate as a bilingual government by implementing opportunities to incorporate Hawaiian language into County communications and functions.  The Department of ‘Ōiwi Resources would guide the County in the correct usage of the language.

At its second meeting of the week, on Tuesday, Feb. 8, the Commission voted to approve and include the following additional proposals from the Draft Report dated Jan. 27, 2022:  

  • Proposal 7 would set the County Clerk’s term at six years and add additional duties and power to the position.  Furthermore, the proposal would prohibit the Clerk and employees from participating in certain political activities.
  • Proposal 8 would alter the powers of the Mayor to appoint and retain administrative department heads, clarify the handling of resignation letters, and adjust the timelines for filling vacancies from 60 to 30 days.  
  • Proposals 11 and 12 related to the method of appointment, terms and qualifications for Corporation Counsel and the Prosecuting Attorney were combined to reflect the same language for each.  They would be appointed by the Mayor with Council approval and their respective terms would be five years.  Additionally, the experience required for Prosecuting Attorney was changed to six years of legal practice immediately preceding nomination.
  • Proposal 28 would add financial disclosure requirements to the Board of Ethics code if approved by voters.  Any board member failing to file financial disclosure documents in a timely manner, or having a financial interest in an action, would be prohibited from participating in deliberations or voting on the matter.
  • Proposals 34 and 35 were combined to potentially create a nine-member Independent Nomination Board to recruit and evaluate candidates for certain boards and commissions, the County Clerk, Auditor, Corporation Counsel, and Prosecuting Attorney. The Board would then provide a list of names from which the Mayor would select his nominee.   The Mayor’s nominee would require confirmation by the County Council.  This proposal would also change the method by which vacancies are filled.
  • Proposal 37, if approved by voters, would remove the cap on penalties for violations of provisions of the County charter.  Instead, the Council would set penalty caps by ordinance.

The remaining proposals on the agendas for the Monday and Tuesday meetings were removed from the Charter Commission’s Draft Report, meaning that they will not appear before voters this year.  The Commission referred many of these proposals to the County Council for further action.

This once every 10-year process is getting closer to this year’s ballot box and input from the public has been vital to getting the best proposals on the ballot.  However, while written testimony will be received, no oral testimony will be taken at the Feb. 15 meeting.  After nearly a year of public meetings and deliberations, the Charter Commission will only consider minor revisions to the document prior to submitting the Draft Report to the Council.  

Written testimony via email can be sent to  Charter.Commission@mauicounty.gov. To ensure timely distribution to the Commissioners, written testimony should be submitted at least two business days prior to the meetings.  For more information and to join Maui Charter Commission meetings via BlueJeans follow the link on the Commission website.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/02/14/maui-charter-commission-to-hold-final-meeting-on-feb-15/

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