by Mark Hyde
Just about everyone recognizes county government needs improvement. The debate is not about the need for change; it’s about the kind of change needed.
Some suggest all Maui County needs is better people in office. While better qualified and less politically oriented people serving in top level executive positions would improve the current situation, it’s not enough. Why? Because only a structural change will put a professional manager in charge of day-to-day operations, removing politics where they don’t belong and increasing the probability of placing highly qualified leaders in all director-level positions.
We know what the current “strong mayor” county government structure produces. It has led us to the current state, where the executive and legislative branches don’t communicate with each other, general and community plans are horribly out of date, local government performance is not accountable, key management reports go missing, and the list goes on.
Maui County is no longer a small town. It needs a structure to match its size and complexity. After all, the county has an annual budget of $700,000,000, employs 2,700 people and is responsible for the delivery of a number of critical services. This is best done by a professional manager hired based on his or her background, training and experience in managing a large city or county, and why the great majority of cities and counties Maui’s size have a structure putting a professional manager in charge of operations while leaving policy and politics to a mayor and council.