VIDEO: Mayor Discusses New Year, New Administration
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5v17S3JwVo /] By Wendy Osher
Maui County welcomes a New Year and a new administration. On Jan. 2, theoretically, the administration becomes a new administration and the council becomes a new council, even though all nine council members were re-elected back into office, and the county keeps Mayor Alan Arakawa for another term.
Swearing-in Events Jan. 2, 2015:
A series of swearing-in events and organizational meetings will be held throughout the day to formalize the transition into the new year starting with a swearing-in ceremony at the Mayor’s Office at 8 a.m.; a swearing-in ceremony in the Council Chamber at 10 a.m.; elections of officers and organizational meeting of the Maui County Council at 2 p.m.; and the re-instituting of all appointed positions within the Mayor’s administration at 5 p.m. at the Maui Tropical Plantation.
Last month, council members announced the selection of Mike White as the council chairman in 2015, and Don Guzman as the vice chair. The group also announced leadership positions and various committee assignments, which will be finalized at the Jan. 2 meeting.
Mayor Says Council Creation of Committee of the Whole is a “Bad Idea”
As part of the reorganization, Kahului councilmember Don Guzman will chair the newly established Committee of the Whole. Mayor Alan Arakawa said it’s not a committee that he particularly supports, but said the decision ultimately rests with the council.
“They’re trying to create a committee that’s going to be handling all of the legal issues going before the council. I actually think its a bad idea because the council does not have and should not have a lawyer type of program,” said Mayor Arakawa.
“Our Corporation Counsel is the legal entity for the County, and the council also has three or four attorneys on their staff. If they start to try and interpret law, they’re going to run into a lot of roadblocks because the system we have does not allow them to represent the county in any legal matter,” he said.
“If they are depending on their own legal advice that may be contrary to our Corporation Counsel advice, we may end up in court fighting each other. So, I don’t really think that’s a great idea on their part, but it’s really up to them how they want to do it,” said Mayor Arakawa.
According to the mayor, the Water Director, Corporation Counsel and Prosecuting Attorney must be re-confirmed to their existing positions by the Council in the new year. All of the other directors and deputy directors have to be re-appointed to their posts.
Mayor Arakawa said there were four Maui measures that were signed into law on Dec. 8, 2014, that have to do with vacation rentals–one is changing vacation rentals to business zoned; and another is a home occupation bill that now become law.
Administrative New Years Resolution:
“On the county level, we’re going to be working hard to continue our programs that we’ve been putting in place,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa in an exclusive interview with Maui Now. “One of the major programs that we put in place is trying to purchase as much of the coastline as possible so that we don’t over build along the oceanfront.”
“You’ll see that about 80% of all the property from Lahaina to Wailea is community controlled. About 80% of the property on the North Shore now is (also) community controlled,” said Arakawa noting that his administration pushed hard to acquire the coastline properties.
Mayor Arakawa also said the administration has been working to improve basic infrastructure. “You’re seeing that the road system has gone from about a 50 year maintenance plan to a 20-25 year maintenance plan. The water department is starting to develop water resources and fix a lot of the things that needed repairs for decades.”
Also relating to infrastructure, the county parks department also acquired quite a bit of property. “We’re close to tripling the amount of active playing fields that we had; and we’re going to be restructuring government by getting out of a lot of lease rent space and actually having our own facilities–combining different department activities so that it’s much more cohesive,” said Mayor Arakawa.
“For instance, all of our different mechanics will be combined into mechanic shops so that they can get the work done and planned better; and be able to purchase supplies much better and keep spares much better. Our information line–our computer system has to be adjusted because we now have an antiquated computer system that is no longer supported,” he said.
Mayor Arakawa said during his new term he will be working on continued infrastructure improvements. “We’ll continue to make them for the betterment of the community and try to save costs along the line, and at the same time, make much more sense in how government works.”
“Our New Years resolution is to try and continue to make Maui the absolute best place we possibly can. There are literally hundreds of challenges that come up within in the community at any given time. We’ll try to resolve as many of them as possible,” said Mayor Arakawa.