Chair White helps to open 17th Annual Chinese New Year Festival

On Saturday, February 13, 2016, Chair White, along with Maui Chinese Cultural Society President Grant Chun, helps to open the 17th annual Chinese New Year Festival at the Maui Mall.

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Update on Maui County homeless issues

Late last year, the council conducted two special meetings at the request of the mayor in response to Gov. David Ige’s emergency declaration on homelessness.  Subsequently, Arakawa transmitted five bills to establish new criminal laws.  There are policy and constitutional concerns on a few of the bills and will have to be thoroughly reviewed.  One of the proposals would ban all alcohol consumption on all county property including community centers, beaches and parks. This punishes responsible, law-abiding citizens for problems caused by a small portion of the population.  The police department hasn’t indicated that there is a need for these new criminal laws to address homelessness and if they are enforceable.  I look forward to discussing these bills in more detail through the Policy Intergovernmental Affairs Committee led by Councilmember Michael Victorino.

To view the bills ==> PIA-061 (CC 15-296)

The mayor’s homelessness package also includes budget amendments to create new positions in county government amounting to $121,582.  I feel that personnel is needed to assist with the homeless situation, but reassigning current employees instead of adding new positions is more appropriate. By adding new positions, there are unfunded liabilities for pensions and other long-term costs.  Other proposals include utilizing nearly $1.8 million to purchase and run 12 temporary Spacemax shelter units. Both matters have been referred to the Budget and Finance Committee led by Councilmember Riki Hokama for further consideration.

To view the bills ==> bf-38(26) budget 151125

I understand that homelessness is an issue that impacts many parts of our islands, and I look forward to working together to identify solutions.  We must however, look for answers that are long-term in nature and are strategic investments.  We must move away from short-term “Band-Aid’s”.  Last year for instance, council members urged the administration to consider using $900,000 federal Community Development Block Grant funding for facility improvements at Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers. Instead, the administration used CDBG money for a $900,000 fire truck.

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Bill 70 (2015)

On Oct. 6, the Council passed Bill 70 (2015), which provides applicants on the Upcountry Priority List who have been offered water meters from the Department of Water Supply and are able to connect to the existing water system an exemption from certain infrastructure improvements including fire protection and road improvements.

The Council has sought solutions to assist applicants on the Upcountry Priority List to get water meters so they “may build a home on their property for themselves or their family,” according to the proposed bill. Currently, the Upcountry Priority List has more than 1,800 applicants.

Water meters have been offered to designated applicants on the list, but costly infrastructure requirements for fire protection and street upgrades have prevented certain applicants from accepting water meters. To read the Committee Report CLICK HERE.

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Community Notice: Kaupakalua Road Priority Repairs

After receiving numerous calls about this, I am glad that the Department of Public Works is taking action on Kaupakalua Road in the near future.  Here is a recent press release from the Public Information Office.

Press Release
For Immediate Release
May 14, 2015

Wailuku, Maui – Heavy rains in Haiku washed away recent pothole repairs along Kaupakalua Road earlier this week, prompting county work crews to return to the area today.

A number of area residents called to complain about the condition of the road Wednesday morning after the overnight rains, saying that some potholes were as much as 8 inches deep. The Department of Public Works had just filled in the potholes along Kaupakalua Road, Baldwin Avenue and other upcountry routes last week and went back today to patch the area up again, but added that this will be a temporary fix at best.

For a more semi-permanent solution, the department will be repaving the bad portions of Kaupakalua Road next month, once the Highways Division finishes its Kahekili Highway repaving project in Kahakuloa. The repaving work along Kaupakalua should be completed by mid to late June, and will improve existing road conditions until federal funds can be used to fix the road.

There will be areas left over that will need some additional work, but with existing maintenance funds the department is targeting the worst areas first, said Public Works Director David Goode. Given the existing conditions of the road, this will be a stop gap measure that we anticipate will last long enough for us to get to the bigger reconstruction project and something that we feel will be cost effective.

Kaupakalua Road has already been approved for federal road reconstruction funds – as were Kokomo and Hansen roads – and is scheduled for pavement reconstruction in 2018. Federal road reconstruction funds allow an 80/20 split in the participating construction costs between the Federal Government and the County of Maui.

By getting Kaupakalua Road reconstructed, the end result is a finished product that is designed and built to last for 25-30 years as opposed to a resurfacing project that would be more costly and last for 10 years, or less.

In the meantime county crews will continue to monitor conditions of Kaupakalua Road and patching areas that need to be addressed immediately. We ask that motorists in the area drive with caution until repairs can be made. Mahalo for your patience and understanding.

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ADA Improvements at Hookipa Beach Park to Begin Monday

PRESS RELEASE – From the Department of Parks and Recreation
For Immediate Release
May 14, 2015

ADA Improvements at Hookipa Beach Park to Begin Monday
Access to beach areas, parking to remain open during facility closures

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawai`i – The Department of Parks and Recreation today announced that construction on ADA Improvements at Hookipa Beach Park will begin at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18. Work is expected to be completed by September 15, 2015.

During construction, the park will remain open and barriers will be erected at work areas. The public is asked to avoid construction areas and equipment to ensure public safety. Temporary signs are being posted to inform park users of the construction.

Work will begin at the upper lookout area, then proceed down to the lower pavilion areas. Work at the upper area will consist of new ADA parking stalls, accessible walkways to the lookout and an area for an ADA portable restroom. Work in the lower area is estimated to begin on June 4, 2015, including new ADA parking stalls, accessible walkways, accessible ADA picnic tables and benches, showers and BBQ grills.

The contractor for the ADA improvements is Kamoku Contracting, Inc. with total construction cost of $123,640. For more information, contact Robert Agapay, CIP Coordinator, Department of Parks and Recreation, Planning and Development Division at ph. (808) 270-6158 or the East District Recreation office at ph. (808) 572-8122.

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Community Notice: Restrooms at Hookipa Beach Park Opened

According to the Department of Parks and Recreation:

The restrooms at Ho’okipa Beach Park that were closed for many months due to a pump failure have been repaired and re-opened this past week and on Saturday, April 11, 2015. The Hanakao’o restroom will also be re-opened as those repairs have also been completed were completed.

For more information contact the Department of Parks and Recreation at 808-270-7230.

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Community Meetings to Highlight Proposed Skateparks

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawai‘i — The County of Maui Dept. of Parks and Recreation today announced a series of four community meetings that will be held later this month to discuss plans for County skateparks in Upcountry Maui and on Molokai and Lanai.

Parks staff and skatepark design consultant, California Skateparks, will be on-hand at the meetings to receive community input on the conceptual designs for proposed skateparks at three sites. Two meetings will be held in Pukalani regarding the Upcountry site; one meeting each on Molokai and Lanai will be held.

Upcountry:
Meeting location: Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center, 91 Pukalani Street
Contacts: East/Upcountry District Parks Office, ph. 572-1836; CIP Coordinator: Rob Agapay, ph. 270-6158
Meeting dates: Monday, April 20, 2015 from 6:45-8:30 p.m. and Thursday, April 23, 2015 from 6:45–8:30 p.m. (meetings held after Zumba class)
Skatepark location: to be determined at community meetings

Molokai:
Meeting location: Hale Mahaolu Home Pumehana, Room #1, 280 Kolapa Place, Kaunakakai
Contacts: Molokai District Parks Office, ph. 553-3204; CIP Coordinator: April Shiotani, ph. 270-8017
Meeting date: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Skatepark location: Mitchell Pauole Center Complex, Kaunakakai

Lanai:
Meeting location: Lanai Community Center, 8th Street
Contacts: Lanai District Parks Office, ph. 565-6979; CIP Coordinator: April Shiotani, ph 270-8017
Meeting date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Skatepark location: 5th Street Park, Lanai City

For more information on the Department of Parks and Recreation, visit www.mauicounty.gov/Parks.

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Making the most of 3 minutes of testimony time

Published in The Maui News, March 29, 2015
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News

The County Council’s annual budget session is set to run from Tuesday until early May.

Under the leadership of Budget and Finance Committee Chair Riki Hokama, council members will review operational funding for agencies, grants, capital improvement projects, real property tax rates and fees for county services. If you’re planning to testify about a budget issue that’s important to you, here are some tips to make your three-minute oral testimony effective:

  •  Introduce yourself. State your name for the record, and indicate if you represent an organization. Anyone- regardless of age, job or home address – is allowed to testify at any council or committee meeting, but council members naturally are interested in learning who you are.
  • Purpose of testimony. It’s best to state the purpose of your testimony immediately – whether you support or oppose a particular issue. Council members receive a massive amount of information, and not clearly stating your position on an issue may cause confusion.
  • Good performance means good investment. During the budget session, council members must find reasons to support a program, grant or service. Offer solutions on how to prudently spend – and save – taxpayer money. Share the positive community impacts of the budget proposal you support, and give specific examples.
  • Bring copies of written testimony. Remember that you are also allowed to submit written testimony – which can be a helpful recitation or reinforcement of oral testimony. Eighteen copies of written testimony are requested at budget meetings.
  • Aloha goes a long way. Expect different views from different people. Even when there’s disagreement, testifiers are expected to be courteous and respectful of the proceedings. There is nothing gained when someone impedes the orderly conduct of public meetings.
  • Stay connected. Agendas and documents will be uploaded to mauicounty.us/2016budget. The schedule for district meetings and other preliminary information are already available on the site.

testifyingThe Budget and Finance Committee will meet at the Kihei Community Center on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., followed by the next district meeting on Molokai on April 7 and at the Haiku Community Center on April 9.

The next council meeting is April 7 at 9 a.m. in the Council Chamber.

Written testimony and inquiries may be emailed to bf.committee@mauicounty.us. Share relevant photos and comments on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #mc2016budget.

More tips – and the standards of decorum – are online at mauicounty.us/how-to-testify.

* * *

The Maui County Council is hosting the 2015 Hawaii State Association of Counties Annual Conference, June 24-26, at the Makena Beach & Golf Resort. The conference theme is: “Why invest in our counties? Counties move Hawaii forward.”

We’re compiling a roster of engaging speakers and seeking sponsors to help defray conference costs. Information about the HSAC conference is available at mauicounty.us/HSAC2015.

Mahalo.

* Mike White is chair of the Maui County Council and vice chair of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee. He holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to MauiCounty.us for more information.

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FY 2016 Budget Hearing Dates

The Budget and Finance Committee will hold evening meetings throughout Maui County next month to receive community input on the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

I encourage you to participate and inform us how tax dollars should be spent, as after all, it is your money.

The meetings are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. except for the Molokai and Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu-Kahului district meeting, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. All meetings are open to the public.

The Budget and Finance Committee at the Paia Community Center hearing from members of the public on the FY 2014 Budget.

The Budget and Finance Committee at the Paia Community Center hearing from members of the public on the FY 2014 Budget.

District meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • Thursday, April 2, Kihei Community Center, Main Hall, 303 East Lipoa Street, Kihei, Maui – South Maui District.
  • Tuesday, April 7, at 6:30 p.m., Kaunakakai School, 30 Ailoa Street, Kaunakakai, Molokai – Molokai District.
  • Thursday, April 9, Haiku Community Center, Main Hall, Hana Highway at Pilialoha Street, Haiku – Makawao-Haiku-Paia District.
  • Monday, April 13, Hana Community Center, 5091 Uakea Road, Hana, Maui – East Maui District (Hana-Keanae-Kailua).
  • Wednesday, April 15, Lahaina Civic Center, Social Hall, 1840 Honoapiilani Highway, Lahaina, Maui – West Maui District
  • Friday, April 17, Lanai Senior Center, 309 7th Street, Lanai City, Lanai – Lanai District
  • Monday, April 20, at 6:30 p.m., Lihikai Elementary School, Dining Room, 335 South Papa Avenue, Kahului, Maui – Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu and Kahului Districts
  • Wednesday, April 22, Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center, Social Hall, 91 Pukalani Street, Pukalani, Maui – Upcountry District (Pukalani-Kula-Ulupalakua).

The agenda for the meetings will be officially published on the county website on March 25, the same day the council receives the mayor’s budget proposal. The committee will also conduct budget meetings in the Council Chamber in Wailuku on most days beginning March 31 through May 1.

The budget ordinance is the county’s financial plan for the fiscal year, which begins July 1. It determines how much money each department receives to carry out county services such as fire and police protection, public transportation, water supply and garbage collection, and how much is collected from the public through taxes and fees.

The budget also sets forth the amount of grant money offered to community organizations and establishes funding levels for capital improvements projects, such as road repaving, park improvements and water system upgrades.

For more information on meeting dates, you can visit www.mauicounty.gov/committees/bf.

As always, if you have any feedback on pending or future legislation, please don’t hesitate to contact me through e-mail at Mike.White@mauicounty.us or by phone at 270-5507.

With aloha,

Mike

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Openness, efficiency council goals

Published in The Maui News, Feb. 22, 2015
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News

As County Council chair, I’m committed to open government and civic engagement by supporting the community’s ability to obtain relevant information and documentation.

After presiding over the Feb. 6 council meeting when Patrick Wong was confirmed for another term as corporation counsel and reading the Feb. 11 Maui News editorial (“More sunshine please, not less”), it’s obvious more needs to be done.

I’ve requested a public meeting with Cheryl Kakazu Park, who administers the state’s open-government laws as director of the Office of Information Practices, or OIP. The meeting’s purpose will be to remind the public and county officials of the council’s obligations under the Uniform Information Practices Act (relating to public records) and the Sunshine Law (relating to public meetings).

I’m also supporting Council Vice Chair Don Guzman’s efforts, as chair of the Committee of the Whole, to better inform the public of legal matters by placing more court records on the council’s website and working with the corporation counsel to provide more litigation-related information in open session.

In the meantime, please allow me to try to clear up a few things, starting with some factual errors in the editorial.

The editorial falsely implies that the council and its committees go into executive session because of convenience and a preference for secrecy. In fact, it’s always done on the advice of counsel.

In addition, the editorial incorrectly claims the council sued the OIP. The corporation counsel filed the lawsuit – which seeks a ruling that the attorney-client privilege trumps the UIPA – on behalf of the County of Maui.

I welcomed and appreciated all of the public testimony – from more than 50 Maui County residents – on Wong’s appointment. I understand frustration by some that the vote followed a lengthy executive meeting and that issues raised in testimony were not directly addressed in open session.

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Council members are sometimes unable to correct statements made in testimony because their knowledge comes from confidential meetings with attorneys in executive meetings. Breaching confidentiality can be a violation of the Code of Ethics and result in penalties including impeachment.

Some testimony alleged that Wong’s representation had subjected the county to financial liability.

To the contrary, the county’s representation by Wong and his staff during the past four years has saved taxpayers millions of dollars by zealous advocacy and astute negotiation.

Some testifiers stated Wong’s actions have already cost the county “$100 million” in a lawsuit contending the county’s use of wastewater injection wells in Lahaina violates the Clean Water Act. That statement is not true.

Along with expert special counsel, Wong is defending the county in Hawaii Wildlife Fund vs. the County of Maui. To date, no penalties have been assessed, and no money has changed hands between the parties.

While the county is threatened with serious penalties in the case, Wong’s legal team is seeking a solution that’s fair to county taxpayers and consistent with the law.

There was also substantial testimony about the 2014 initiative calling for a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops, as reported by The Maui News (“Corporation counsel criticized for role in high-profile cases,” Feb. 7). I note the County Charter prohibits the council from amending any voter-approved ordinance for a 12-month period, and litigation on the moratorium is pending in federal court.

Wong has stated his representation in the case is based on his reading of the County Charter, which is appropriate.

The council and its committees occasionally hold executive meetings to consult with county’s attorneys on pending litigation and to discuss sensitive personnel issues.

Executive meetings are closed to the public pursuant to Section 92-5(a) of the Hawaii Revised Statues, which is part of the Sunshine Law.

When an executive session is convened, it’s only because there’s a necessity.

I applaud those who invest the time and effort to be civically engaged, and I welcome scrutiny of the council’s work. Those who watch the council and its committees work can attest that public testimony is always carefully considered and frequently results in revisions to legislation and other responsive action.

The council will continue to work on making more information available for public review, while also protecting the county treasury and upholding ethical standards. I know we all seek a stronger collaboration between the council and the public for Maui County’s greater good.

Mahalo.

* Mike White is the chair of the Maui County Council and holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area.

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