Maui Water Director Files Lawsuit Against Mayor, County
Maui Water Director David Taylor on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in Second Circuit Court against Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and the County of Maui based on the mayor’s attempt to remove him as director.
Taylor was placed on paid administrative leave on Nov. 15, 2017, following the transmittal of a resolution from the mayor to the council seeking the removal of Taylor from his post. It did not specify the reason for the request.
Maui’s County Charter states that the Director of Water Supply can only be removed by the mayor and the approval of Maui’s County Council. On Dec. 15, 2017, the Council voted unanimously 9-0 to reject Arakawa’s termination of Taylor and to keep Taylor on as Director of Water Supply. During the hearing, Council members noted that Taylor was not accused of any wrongdoing.
Taylor is represented by attorney Margery S. Bronster who is with the law firm Bronster Fujichaku Robbins. The firm issued a press release this week saying, “In violation of the Charter and in direct contradiction to the Council’s decision, Arakawa, on the next work day following the Council’s decision, banned Taylor from returning to work.”
The release further states:
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“Arakawa’s removal of Taylor and use of Deputy Director Gladys Baisa to fill Taylor’s role violates the Charter, which requires that either the director or deputy director be a registered engineer. Baisa is not a registered engineer. More importantly, since Taylor’s removal, the County is still using Taylor’s title and engineering license on official County documents without Taylor’s approval or consent in violation of Hawai‘i law.”
Taylor’s attorneys say their client has no history of misconduct and allege that the mayor has provided “different and varied explanations” for why he requested Taylor’s removal.
The Bronster Fujichaku Robbins press release further states:
“These varied explanations are not supported by the facts and demonstrate Arakawa’s personal animus towards Taylor. Most recently, Arakawa explained that Taylor was under criminal investigation for issuing extensions for water improvement systems. An extension for water improvement systems has been long practiced by the County to allow residents to make the necessary improvements and overcome delays, oftentimes caused by the County itself. These extensions were approved and made at the advice of Maui’s Corporation Counsel and predates Taylor’s appointment as director.”
In response to Maui Now’s request for comment from county officials, Managing Director Keith Regan responded in an email statement saying:
“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Taylor has taken this approach just as the county was in the process of completing its investigation. At this time, we are reviewing the complaint and will respond accordingly to the allegations.”
Taylor, who is a 25 year employee and a 22 year professional engineer with the County, was twice appointed by Arakawa as the Director of Water Supply in 2011 and then again in 2015 when Arakawa won re-election.
Taylor is demanding that he be allowed to return to work as the Director of Water Supply until the expiration of Arakawa’s term on Jan. 2, 2019.