If I were a kid in Maui County right now, you know who would be my hero? Who would be the person I looked up to, even idolized?
I’m serious. There are many examples of people who’ve passed through that old revolving door, transforming their otherwise dull careers in municipal bureaucracy into far more lucrative jobs in the private sector, but Ginoza has outdone himself lately.
For nearly two decades, Ginoza worked for local government in a variety of jobs. His last, and arguably most important, was as Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa’s director of the Environmental Management Department, which oversees all the county’s dealings with garbage, waste, etc.
Let’s start with this July 12, 2016 Maui News article on good ol’ Anaergia Services, which has a 20-year contract from the County of Maui to build a waste conversion facility at the Central Maui landfill (click here for my January 2015 story on the deal). The facility is Mayor Alan Arakawa’s big solution to all things garbage on Maui (and represents a big part of why his administration is so lukewarm on recycling efforts).
Anyway, Maui Electric Co. doesn’t like the project, and said they won’t buy the energy “product” the facility will produce. Anaergia has, in turn, filed a complaint with the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to force MECO to buy its biogas “product” (click here for the PUC docket on that complaint).
Which brings us to yesterday’s News article, which states that Anaergia is planning to do an end-run around MECO buy setting up deals local energy companies–like Hawaii Gas:
As Anaergia awaits a decision, [Anaergia Americas President Arun] Sharma said his company also is exploring selling its biogas to “local entities” and has been talking to companies, including Hawaii Gas. It makes “logical” sense, he said.
Several attempts to obtain comment from Hawaii Gas representatives have been unsuccessful.
One of those “Hawaii Gas representives” is Kyle Ginoza. On Nov. 30, 2015, he went to work as the company’s General Manager for Maui operations.
“Kyle is a proven leader who understands the important role that energy plays in the lives of residents and businesses on the Valley Isle,” said Mustafa Demirbag, executive director of Hawaii Gas operations, in a Dec. 8, 2015 company press release. “As a Maui native and former county director twice over, he knows what it means to serve our communities and help them thrive. We’re excited to have him lead our Maui team.”
So let’s rewind a bit. It’s 2014, and the County of Maui (with Ginoza at the helm of Environmental Management) signs a big contract with Anaergia to build this waste facility. In this January 2014 Maui Now story, you can see a photo of Ginoza grinning while Arakawa signs the Anaergia deal. Then a year later, Ginoza resigns from the county to go work for Hawaii Gas. And now, Anaergia, looking for work because it’s big Maui County contract is on hold, returns to Ginoza (who is now at Hawaii Gas) and starts talking a new deal.
This is how it’s done, kids. You go work for the county (or state or federal government, it makes no difference), do the people’s business for a couple decades, then cash in at the private sector on the relationships you cultivated while working in the government.
Oh, and on top of all that, last month the Maui County Council voted to indemnify Ginoza in former Solid Waste Division Director (and former Ginoza subordinate) Tracy Takamine’s 2013 wrongful termination lawsuit against the county. At the same meeting, which took place on June 17, the council also voted to approve a settlement in that case for an undisclosed amount (click here for the meeting agenda).
Keep in mind that Ginoza isn’t even a county employee anymore–he started working for Hawaii Gas way back on Nov. 30, 2015. But the Maui County Council knows a superstar when they see one.
Photo of Kyle Ginoza courtesy County of Maui