The Maui County Council’s eternal, righteous war against the state law that requires them to meet and come to decisions in open, public and properly noticed meetings took another stupid step today.
“While the Maui County Council refuses to turn over minutes of a closed session to discuss an investigation into the demolition of the old Wailuku Post Office, the county has gone to court to try to keep the state Office of Information Practices from issuing an opinion about a possible Sunshine Law violation,” The Maui News reported today. “In a lawsuit filed Monday in 2nd Circuit Court, the county asks for the injunction, saying it ‘would be irreparably harmed’ if the state office issued an opinion saying the county had violated the law without ‘giving proper weight’ to the county’s arguments and assertion of attorney-client privilege in the closed meeting.”
Sigh. This stems from a closed door “executive session” meeting the council held back on Aug. 14 of this year to discuss their “strategies and options” concerning an investigation into how Alan Arakawa’s mayoral administration handled the demolition of the old Wailuku Post Office. According to this Civil Beat story on the suit, The Maui News smelled a rat and asked the state Office of Information Practices (OIP) to look into whether the council may have discussed matters not on the closed session agenda–a violation of the state Open Meetings law.
That apparently sent the County Council into a tizzy, and now they’re asking a judge to keep the OIP from issuing an opinion that says something other than that the Council is on the side of the angels. Given the council’s long and disturbing history of holding the public’s right to see how our elected officials make decisions involving our tax dollars in open contempt–and its thoroughly misguided opinion that the Maui County Corporation Counsel’s office is the personal attorney for the County Council (it’s job is to act as legal representation for the County of Maui as a whole, not merely the Council)–none of this is surprising. In fact, if you click here you’ll find a blog post I wrote some months ago about the Council’s hate-hate relationship with the Sunshine Law.
Photo: Jiteshjasuja/Wikimedia Commons
About Anthony Pignataro
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He started work as MauiTime's Editor in 2003, took a couple years off starting in 2008, then returned to the staff in 2011. He's the author of "Stealing Cars With The Pros," a 2013 collection of his journalism and the Maui novels "Small Island" (2011) and "The Dead Season" (2012)–all of which were published by Event Horizon Press. In 2014, his one-act play "War Stories" won second place in the Maui Fringe Festival.