Ethics Complaint Filed, White Defends Leadership Announcement

December 21, 2016, 8:42 AM HST · Updated December 21, 8:43 AM
Wendy Osher · 3 Comments
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Mike White. File image by Wendy Osher.

A complaint was filed with the Maui County Board of Ethics on Tuesday about Maui County Council Chair Mike White’s declaration that he will continue to serve as council chair for the 2017-2019 Council term. The complaint says the announcement was made before any formal public hearing or vote on leadership by the full council has occurred.

The complaint was filed by Mark Sheehan of the SHAKA Movement and S.A.F.E. (Sustainable Action Fund for the Environment).

Sheehan’s complaint argues that, White violated section 3-5.1 of the County Charter by using the Council Chair’s office; county employee time, resources and the official Maui County Council government website to issue a Press Release on the matter.

The complaint also argues that a violation of the charter occurred when White formally established himself as Chair and Robert Carroll as Vice Chair in the upcoming 2017-2019 term.  The complaint states that the Chair affirmed that the votes had been secured, meaning commitments to vote a certain way had been made by a majority of the council members.

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Sheehan stated that, “The three newly elected incoming council members were completely shut out of the entire discussion and voting process, which has been written into the Charter so as to ensure an open, democratic and fair government.“

“The political landscape in Maui is changing” said Sheehan. “We have seen an unprecedented rise in participation in our political process on all levels.  Maui residents are clearly demanding a more fair, open and responsive government.”

In response to Maui Now’s request for a statement, Council Chair White offered the following comments on the Ethics Complaint filed by Mark Sheehan:

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“The ethics complaint filed by Mark Sheehan is highly political and unsubstantiated. He is the head of the same political action committee that raised thousands of dollars, much of which hid donor names from campaign spending reports, to promote candidates that were opposing myself, Councilmember Hokama, Couch, Carroll, and Crivello in the last election. Instead of trying to work together for the people, they are obviously trying to get a head start on the 2018 election.

Announcing leadership positions prior to a term is nothing new. Indeed, it is a fairly common practice among legislative bodies in Hawaiʻi. The Hawaiʻi State Legislature, Honolulu City Council and the Hawaiʻi County Council announced their leadership team before their new term and an official vote was taken.

Incoming Council Chair Gladys C. Baisa announced her leadership team on Nov. 10, 2012, four days after the general election. The last term’s organizational announcement was also released Nov. 10, 2014.

As the current Chair, it is my responsibility to place on the Jan. 2 organizational meeting agenda, resolutions identifying the Council’s leadership. In order to accomplish this, discussions must take place to determine the content of the proposals.

It is time to put aside this election rhetoric and partisan politics and get to work, tackling important issues on behalf of the people.”

As outlined in the County of Maui Charter, the first meeting of the 2017-2019 Maui County Council will occur on Jan. 2, 2017.  The full council meeting includes a final vote on leadership positions, including Council Chair, Vice Chair, Budget Committee Chair, County Lobbyist, and leadership and organization of other council committees.

The meeting is open to the public and testimony will be taken at 2 p.m.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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