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Maui Charter Commission considers Council charter amendment alternatives

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Maui Charter Commission Nov. 18, 2021 virtual meeting. PC: Maui Charter Commission / Akakū

The Maui Charter Commission met on Thursday to consider County Council alternatives to 12 of its 13 proposed Charter amendments.  

Following public testimony, the Commission debated the alternatives that were discussed at length by the Council’s Government Relations, Ethics, and Transparency Committee over the past month.  

The Thursday meeting culminated in acceptance of seven of the Council alternatives and rejection of four.  One proposal (No. 12) had no alternative presented, while another (No. 11) was removed from consideration by the Commission independent of Council’s recommendation. 

Eleven proposals are now slated for the November ballot.

At Thursday’s meeting, the Commission accepted alternatives presented by the Council on proposals addressing:

  • Improvement of public access to Council meetings and County records (No. 2);
  • Duties of the County Clerk and restrictions on his/her political activities (No. 4);
  • Appointment process for administrative heads (No. 5);
  • Maui Planning Commission and long-range Community Plans (No. 6);
  • Creation and operations of a new Department of Housing (No. 7); and
  • Ethics in government and operations of the Board of Ethics (No. 9).
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The Council’s version of each of these proposals will appear on the November ballot.

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Additionally, citing uncertainty about the reapportionment process, the Charter Commission accepted a recommendation to eliminate Proposal No. 1 which would have changed Council elections from at-large elections to a system in which Councilmembers would be elected from three “electoral regions.”  

In other action on Thursday, the Commission rejected four alternative proposals submitted by Council.  These proposals address:

  • Creation and operations of a new Department of ʻŌiwi Resources (No. 8);
  • Professionalism in government and creation of a new Independent Nomination Board (No. 10); and
  • Transparency in law enforcement, the Police Chief, and the Police Commission (No. 13).  

Also, noting voters’ need to understand the fiscal impacts of items on the ballot, the Commission rejected Council’s recommendation to eliminate Proposal No. 3 which would require the County Auditor to assess the fiscal impacts of all proposed charter amendments.  The Charter Commission’s version of  Proposal No. 3 will appear on the November ballot.

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Finally, Council’s alternative language to Proposal No. 11 modifying the terms of, and the removal process for, Corporation Counsel and the Prosecuting Attorney was rejected and the Commission voted to eliminate the proposal from consideration in its entirety.

Once Council receives the formal transmittal of the Commission’s actions, Councilmembers will have ten days in which to “recall” the rejected alternatives.  Rejected alternatives not recalled result in both the Commission’s and Council’s versions of a proposal appearing on the ballot.  The County Council will discuss charter amendment proposals at its meeting scheduled for April 22.  Dates and times for upcoming Charter Commission meetings are forthcoming and will depend on Council actions. Going forward, the Commission will be refining the ballot questions and also producing a plain-language informational publication for voters’ reference.

This once every 10-year process is getting closer to this year’s ballot box.  The public is urged to join the County Council meeting on April 22 when these important charter amendment proposals will be discussed.  During meetings, the public can provide testimony to the commissioners via video or by telephone.  Members of the public may also testify in-person using audio/visual technology at the Planning Deptartment  Conference Room, 250 S. High St. in Wailuku.  Note: The Commissioners may not be physically present at this location.  

The public is encouraged to send written testimony via email to [email protected] To ensure timely distribution to the Commissioners, written testimony should be submitted at least two business days prior to the meetings.  For more information and to join Maui Charter Commission meetings via BlueJeans follow the link on the Commission website http://www.mauicounty.gov/CharterCommission

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