Do revelations about the crass political motivations of Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa’s administration have you down? Do stories about the county Liquor Commission’s craven contempt for open government infuriate you? Do you wish that maybe the county might pay more attention to stuff like the Clean Water Act before dumping sewage into the ground in West Maui?
There might be a solution–or if not a complete solution, then at least a step towards more professionalism. County Council members–some of whom, to be fair, are longtime political foes of Arakawa–are starting to talk openly of changing the county charter so that we no long have a directly elected mayor. Instead, we’d have a “county manager”–a county CEO, if you will, with considerable administrative experience who serves at the behest of the County Council. Council Chairperson/Arakawa adversary Mike White, for instance, is a big fan of this.
“[I]n a county manager form of government, the county manager usually has extensive professional expertise and a relevant advanced degree, such as a master’s of public administration or master’s of business administration,” states an Oct. 8 Resolution from White. “[A] June 2015 research report by the National Association of Counties, entitled ‘An Overview of County Administration,’ concluded a county manager form of government can promote efficiency, ‘ensure counties provide quality services to their residents,’ and ‘keep counties resilient in the face of unexpected change.'”
White’s resolution calls for the creation of a special committee to look into what such a government would look like, and what changes to the County Charter would be needed to carry it out. On Monday, Nov. 2 at 9am, the County Council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee–chaired by Mike Victorino–will consider establishing an “advisory body” to do that.
“There has been interest from the public in considering this form of governance versus the county’s current form,” Victorino said in an Oct. 28, 2015 press release from the county. “There are potential benefits and disadvantages to each, so an advisory body, such as a special committee, has been proposed to review and make recommendations to the council on what is best for Maui County. Determining who should be on this body, its timeframe and other guidelines are among the discussion topics anticipated by the committee on Monday.”
White’s resolution called for a nine-member committee that would return a recommendation in 180 days. Victorino’s, by contrast, would have 11 members, but take up to a year to make recommendations. Since any change to the County Charter would require a ballot measure, it’s all but impossible for Victorino’s advisory body to conclude in time to get an initiative on the 2016 ballot, which in turn means that county voters would still get a chance to vote for someone (Victorino?) for mayor in 2018.
But that’s all speculation. The council still has to get approve some kind of committee to look into the idea, and that means calling for applications and so forth. And that may start on Monday.
Photo of Mike Victorino courtesy County of Maui