Citizens Deserve Greater Government Transparency in Maui County

by Mark Hyde

One of the shortcomings of our current form of county government is lack of transparency into executive department performance.   Transparency into government creates visibility that lets citizens know what is going on and what is not.  Transparency also creates accountability. 

Effective leaders welcome transparency; they are not afraid of what will be seen, and they use data to improve performance and outcomes.   Leaders at the other end of the spectrum prefer to keep things opaque to avoid criticism, thereby reducing elections to name recognition and incumbency - because there is little else for voters to grab onto.

Maui County’s charter provides just a few avenues of visibility into county government performance.  One is Article 8-8.5.3, which states, “The planning director shall issue a report annually providing a detailed explanation of the implementation and enforcement of the general plan and the community plans to the mayor and the council.”   Most would agree that implementation of county plans is important. 

Yet, the planning director has not given the mayor and council (and therefore the people) a charter-mandated detailed annual report since 2009, the last year Mayor Tavares held office.  Mayor Arakawa and Deputy Planning Director Michele McLean have acknowledged this shortfall in testimony before the Special Committee on Governance, and the Planning Department’s web site bears this out: the last mentioned planning director’s report is dated 2009. 

Article 7-5.17 of the Charter makes it the Mayor’s responsibility to enforce the charter: “Enforce the provisions of this charter, the ordinances of the county and all applicable laws.”  The Mayor has not done so.

Maui County Code Section 1.12.020, entitled “Penalty where no penalty provided—Charter,” states: “Any person who intentionally fails to exercise his duties and responsibilities as set forth in the charter of the county of Maui or who violates any prohibition provided for therein, for which no penalty is provided, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for a term not to exceed one year, or both.”  Must we resort to criminal penalties to gain visibility into local government performance? 

This is just one of many reasons professional management of local day-to-day operations is needed and why many of us are working to place a measure on the November ballot to let the citizens of Maui decide whether a charter change supporting council-manager government is best.  

If you would like to see this measure on the ballot in November, take a moment to reach out to your County Council representative and let them know you are in support.

Maui County Council Contact Info