Halt to County Manager Proposal is a Beginning, not the End

by Mark Hyde

Today the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee voted not to advance the Special Committee’s recommended change to the county charter that would have brought professional management to county operations.  Those voting in favor of giving the people the right to decide the matter were Cochran, Guzman, Victorino and White.  Those voting against were Baisa, Carroll, Crivello, Couch and Hokama.  Those in the majority expressed various reasons for their vote, but bottom line they lacked confidence in the electorate’s ability to understand and decide this issue, whether for or against.  Some said it was not sufficiently developed; one suggested this should take years, not months.

As you may know, every council seat is contested this go-round, giving the electorate another way to bring change to county government.  There are a number of very attractive candidates for council this fall.  Take a look at all county council races and decide who should get your vote, because this is the most direct way to improve local government, and it’s just 3 months away.

Second, we will explore other ways and opportunities to bring change to county government.  Getting a charter change proposal on the ballot can happen in different ways, it just won’t be through this county council or this term.

In the next few weeks the council will explore a variety of small fixes to the charter, including Mr. Hokama’s proposal to have the council review all mayoral appointments.  This proposal not only expresses obvious lack of confidence in the current "strong mayor” system, it does not address the dysfunctional relationship between the mayor and council; simultaneous and forced turnover of directors, deputies and their staffs with each new mayoral election; a broken planning function with no leadership to address it; the presence of politics and cronyism in operational decision making and actions; etc.  

I want to thank members of the the Special Committee who dedicated the last 6 months studying, creating and advocating for a charter change that would implement professional management of county operations, and to the many citizens who took time and expended energy to testify in favor of change.  

This is a beginning, not an end.  Maui County, the land, the people and the culture are too precious to act otherwise.