It’s pretty wonkish, but some pretty far-reaching local government reforms will be up for discussion at a public meeting this Thursday, Feb. 25. Yes, it’s time for yet another gathering of the county’s Special Committee on County Governance.
Put simply, it’s a panel of 11 citizens (only nine of which can actually vote on anything) that meet periodically to discuss and possibly craft legislation to bring Maui County into the 20th century in regards to local government. This would happen through the creation of what’s known as a “county manager form of government”–seating most true executive power in the county in a manager–a professional administrator with considerable experience and most likely a master’s degree in public administration–with the elected mayor either taking on a largely ceremonial role or going away entirely.
The meeting agenda, written in thick bureaucratese, hints at the possibility that the committee might actually vote on whether this is a hot idea:
“Pursuant to the resolution, the Special Committee may consider: (a) whether establishing a county manager form of government would improve management and operation of the County; (b) make written recommendations to the Council whether the Charter should be amended to establish a county manager form of government and, if so, recommend a structure; and (c) prepare a proposed Charter amendment if a county manager faun of government is the Special Committee’s recommendation. The Special Committee may also consider the filing of the correspondence and other related action.”
See? It’s as clear as Haleakala on a voggy day. But today’s Maui News reports that all that “may” translate into them taking a vote. Of course, how that vote will go is anything but certain. Here’s The Maui News on what happened at the most recent committee meeting when it came time to count yays and nays:
“At its last meeting Feb. 11, the committee was almost evenly divided on the question. Five members opposed changing the current form of government and four supported changing it, while one was unsure and another was absent. Despite casting an informal vote, some members said they still were wavering on the issue.”
Anyway, it’s not surprising that Mayor Alan Arakawa loathes the idea, as does Keith Regan, his current Managing Director (who lacks the key power to hire and fire department heads and is also running for the County Council seat currently held by termed-out Mike Victorino). But the Maui County Council wants the idea studied, and has called for the special committee to report back in a fairly expeditious rate, with the hope that if they actually like the idea, they can put something on the ballot in time for the next mayoral election, scheduled for 2018.
Anyway, the meeting takes place at 1pm in the Council Chamber of the Kalana O Maui Building (200 S. High St., Wailuku) this Thursday, Feb. 25.
Photo of the Kalana O Maui Building: Wikimedia Commons