The new year brought entirely new Maui County Council leadership–exactly what was predicted shortly after the November 2014 election. Mike White is the new Council Chairman and Don Guzman is the new Vice Chairman.
“I look forward to working with a great team in crafting quality legislation for the next two years,” said White at his Jan. 2 swearing-in, according to a county news release sent out that same day. “I will work hard to guide council operations and facilitate a healthy working relationship among members and with the administration.”
White, who also works as the General Manager of the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, had no shortage of high hopes and promises during his swearing-in.
“We are ready to work and deliver results,” White said, according to the news release. “I pledge to you that we will be straight with you, we will communicate openly with you, we will be positive and helpful, and we will be responsible with your money. Most important, we will do what is pono!”
And apparently for White, doing “what is pono” means positioning himself for a lot of power. Sure, Councilman Riki Hokama is taking over as Chairman of the Budget Committee–one of the council’s most powerful committees. But since July 2014, Hokama has also served as President of the National Association of Counties–a job that two people with considerable knowledge of Maui County Council operations told me requires a great deal of work and responsibility from Hokama.
That means Hokama may miss a Budget Committee meeting or two (or more). Guess who got installed as Budget Committee Vice Chairman?
In his Jan. 4 Maui News op-ed on his new “council team,” White mentions that Hokama is the National Association of Counties President, while neatly sidestepping the work requirements of the job: “His experience and knowledge will be especially valuable in guiding the annual budget session,” White wrote.
For the record, former Council Chairwoman Gladys Baisa is still calling the vote to install White as Chairman a “coup.” “I’m not happy about how this has transpired,” Baisa said in the Jan. 3 Maui News. In the same article, she referred to White, Guzman and Hokama as the “leaders of this coup.”
Photo of Mike White courtesy County of Maui