New Resolutions. New Hopes. New Legislative Session.

On Friday, January 24, 2014, Councilmember White delivered opening remarks at the Council Meeting.

He also encouraged the public to review the House and Senate yearbooks that were presented during Opening Day of the Legislature.  The Senate book has a rich history of each legislative session since statehood and House shows photos of each House member.


Good morning. Happy New Year and Happy Friday!

A new year brings new resolutions, new hopes and also a new legislative session at our State Capitol.  Last Wednesday, many of us had the opportunity to attend the Opening of the State Legislature on Oahu.  It was a low-key opening, yet it served as an important reminder of our past history.

As part of the 55th anniversary of statehood, both the Senate and House invited former legislators to be honored. As a former representative, I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on the work of our predecessors.  Since Statehood, there are about 527 people who have served our beautiful State as legislators.  Whether we agree or not with the politics of those who came before us, it is clear that the contributions made by these individuals have made Hawaii the Great State that it is today.

Councilmember White as a member of the State House of Representatives in 1995.

Councilmember White as a member of the State House of Representatives in 1995.

It is important to honor the past as we look to the future and develop new policies for an emerging 21st century.  Much has evolved over each legislative session, including the types of issues we face but there is one thing that has not changed, legislating is no easier today than it was in the past.  In fact, it sometimes can take years before we find agreeable solutions, but we must remind ourselves that this discourse is a fundamental… and healthy element of our democratic process.

In this upcoming legislative session, I feel a few of the most pressing issues will be the county’s share of the Transient Accommodations Tax, the General Excise Tax, the minimum wage, and how we are going to deal with our unfunded liabilities.

Here on the County front, we too have great opportunities as we enter the second half of our term tackling equally important issues such as developing a balanced budget, making meaningful amendments to our workforce-housing bill.  Additionally, we are at a cross road on how we will implement our Maui Island Plan and develop each community plan.


As we lobby for State legislation and develop our own County policies, it is important for us to keep our sights on the long-term horizon and continually ask ourselves, how our decisions will impact future generations.  Are we providing adequate opportunities for education, jobs, affordable housing, and protecting Maui County’s natural beauty and culture? How will we ensure that our decisions are positive and impactful?

The issues of our day will take time to solve and we won’t agree on everything but I know we are up to the challenge.

At the State level, I look forward to what is to come during the upcoming legislative session.  At Council, I look forward to the second half of our term with our collective goal, to keep Maui . . . No Ka oi


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Upcountry Parks Tour

On Monday, January 13, 2014, Councilmember White visited various Upcountry Parks with the Director and Deputy of Parks and Recreation.  They showed him various capital improvement projects they are hoping to complete in the Makawao-Pukalani-Paia-Haiku area during Fiscal Year 2015.

Councilmember White visits the Pukalani Pool to understand its current conditions.

Councilmember White visits the Pukalani Pool to understand its current conditions.

The Paia Gym will need to have its roof replaced due to continuous leaks.

The Paia Gym will need to have its roof replaced due to continuous leaks.

Reviewing the condition of the playground equipment at the Paia Community Center.

Reviewing the condition of the playground equipment at the Paia Community Center.


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Congratulating Seabury Hall’s Cross Country Teams

On Friday, January 10, 2014, Councilmember White introduced a resolution congratulating both the girls and boys Seabury Hall Cross Country Teams for winning the Honolulu Marathon Cross Country State Championships 2013 Division II titles. He also introduced a resolution congratulating Dakota Grossman for winning her fourth cross country state championship and eighth individual state gold medal.

Seabury Hall

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County Auditor Transmits Audit Plan

On Wednesday, County Auditor Lance Taguchi transmitted a letter to members of the County Council with his plan of audits proposed to be conducted for the remaining six months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2014.

The plan contains Charter mandated projects, including overseeing the independent annual financial audit of the County of Maui for FY 2013 and procurement of the audits for FY 2014-2018.


Self-initiated audits will examine the Treasury function of the Department of Finance, in addition to an audit of expenditures from the FY 2012 Budget appropriation for the Old Wailuku Post Office Rehabilitation Project.

“I look forward to the work of the County Auditor and his recommendations,” said Councilmember Mike White.

“It is my hope that the audits will assist in improving and streamlining operations of our County,” he said.

White was the original initiator of the charter amendment voted into law by voters in the November 2012 election, creating a County Auditor position.

Yearly, the County Auditor must submit to the Mayor and Council a plan of audits proposed to be conducted during the fiscal year.

CLICK HERE to read the County Auditors letter to the Council.

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Statement on the Little Fire Ant

On Thursday, January 9, 2014, Councilmember White offered a statement regarding the Little Fire Ant.

“I have been tracking news reports on the little fire ant and obtaining information through the Maui Invasive Species Council and Department of Agriculture.

As a County Council member and manager of a hotel, protecting the health and safety of our residents and visitors is of the utmost importance. The little fire ant poses a major threat through its painful stings and its ability to build-up large colonies. Swift action to address this and any other invasive species is critical in protecting Maui County’s fragile ecosystem.

I believe greater inspection of incoming plants is needed to stop the spreading of the ant, but this will take more State inspectors. Despite this, I have always supported supplementing efforts to better protect our Maui County environment by introducing increases to environmental protection funding in the County’s annual budget.

I plan on working closely with the Maui Invasive Species Council to see if additional support is needed to address the fire ant as our upcoming budget session approaches.”

On December 31, 2013, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture issued a news release informing the public of the little fire ant.



Posted on Dec 31, 2013 in Main

Dec. 31, 2013

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has confirmed that an invasive stinging ant called the Little Fire Ant (LFA) has spread from Hawaii Island to Oahu and Maui.  On Dec. 23, a customer at garden shop on Maui reported a suspicious ant to the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), which sent the specimens to HDOA entomologists who confirmed the identification of LFA.

On Dec. 26, HDOA entomologists surveyed several nurseries and stores and found LFA infestations on hapuu (Hawaiian tree fern) at several garden shops on Oahu and at another Maui store.  All infested hapuu were contained and the areas secured. On Dec. 27, HDOA staff revisited the stores and treated the areas with pesticides.  Through trace-back and trace-forward efforts, HDOA believes the infested hapuu originated on Hawaii Island and products from that nursery have been ordered for treatment prior to shipping. The last shipment was made to Oahu and Maui on Dec. 11.  Surveys and treatment will continue by HDOA and MISC staff.

HDOA is advising those who recently purchased hapuu logs or planters to contain the logs by placing them in a plastic or garbage bag and seal it securely.  They should contact their nearest HDOA office as soon as possible.  Due to the holiday, please leave a message and staff will respond as soon as they are able:

Maui – (808) 872-3848

Oahu – PEST HOTLINE – 643-PEST (7378).  This is also a toll-free number for neighbor islands.

“It is important that those who have recently purchased hapuu which may be infested with little fire ants to help contain the infestation and contact us as soon as possible,” said Dr. Neil Reimer, administrator of HDOA’s Plant Industry Division. “Through past experience, we know we can contain an infestation if we find it in its early stages.”

Originally from South America, LFA is considered among the world’s worst invasive species.

LFA are tiny ants, measuring 1/16th inch long, are pale orange in color and move slowly. LFA move slowly, unlike the Tropical Fire Ant which is established in Hawaii, move quickly and are larger with a larger head in proportion to its body. LFA can produce painful stings and large red welts and may cause blindness in pets. They can build up very large colonies on the ground, in trees and other vegetation and completely overrun a property. They will also freely move into homes.

The first detection of LFA in Hawaii was in the Puna area in 1999. Surveys determined that LFA appeared to have been on the east side for several years prior to their initial detection and was widely distributed in Puna. Attention was then focused on controlling ant populations and preventing the spread to non-infested areas on the island and to other islands.

In October 2009, LFA was detected on a farm in Waihee, Maui. Eradication efforts at that site appear to have contained the infestation, which is being continually monitored. HDOA staff also trained Maui County employees, MISC and private pest control operators on Maui to assist in recognizing and reporting possible infestations on the island. MISC is also assisting HDOA in conducting surveys at high-risk areas on Maui.

A HDOA Pest Advisory that contains information on LFA and its history in Hawaii. is available on the department’s website:

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Seasons Greetings & Happy New Year


Have a wonderful Holiday Season, with happiness and prosperity throughout 2014!

Thank you for your continued support and I look forward to what we can accomplish, together, in the upcoming year.


With Aloha,
Mike & Whitney White

untitledSinclair, Whitney, and Rob with me at the Council’s Inaguration.

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Application deadline for circuit breaker tax credit extended to Jan. 31

WAILUKU, Hawaii – The Maui County Council today passed Bill 95 (2013) to extend to Jan. 31 the application deadline for the “circuit breaker” tax relief program, Councilmember Mike White announced.

“I encourage all candidates for the circuit breaker tax credit to apply for the exemption,” Councilmember White said at today’s Council meeting. “Even if there are qualification doubts, apply anyway.”

Council Meeting

The County’s Department of Finance shall notify homeowner applicants who do not qualify for the circuit breaker tax credit on or before March 1.

Councilmember White, who chairs the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, said the circuit breaker tax credit is intended to help alleviate hardships of homeowners with a household income of no more than $100,000 and building values of no more than $400,000 in paying for their real property taxes. Applicants whose real property taxes exceed 2 percent of their adjusted gross income may apply for the homeowner exemption.

“Our intent is to make the system more effective by identifying those who really need the credit,” Councilmember White said.

The circuit breaker tax credit application is available at

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Viewpoint: Setting the facts straight on Launiupoko

Viewpoint by Councilmember Mike White

Setting the facts straight on Launiupoko

The Arakawa Administration has embarked on a public relations campaign to pressure the Council to acquire 186 acres in Launiupoko.  Much has been said by the Administration, but there is a need to set the facts straight.

The concerns are not with negotiations, but rather the Administration substantially misrepresenting the market value of the Launiupoko lands by manipulating the appraisal process and being less than honest with the Council.  In fact, the Council was told only one appraisal existed, but there were actually two final appraisals and a draft.

The appraiser has stated that he provided a draft appraisal, and as the negotiations progressed, he received instructions from the County on how to recalculate the property value.  The Administration has admitted that the instructions were given to the appraiser at the insistence of the seller.  One unsupportable recalculation increased the value by $4.3 million.

The Administration inserted themselves into the appraisal process and eliminated the independence of the appraiser.  This is highly unusual and simply wrong.

The Council should have been presented with an unbiased market value appraisal along with the seller’s price demand.   If the market value was significantly less than what the sellers were asking, the Council could have decided to condemn the property rather than agree to the higher price.

As the Council inquired about the validity of the appraisal, we were continually mislead by the Administration.

On August 19, 2013, the Budget Committee asked that the Finance Department to provide, “all appraisals related to the County’s purchase of any lands in Launiupoko, Maui.”  The Finance Director only provided the same November 2, 2012, appraisal given to the Council at the start of deliberations.  No other appraisals were provided.

Subsequently, Committee staff contacted the Finance Department, notifying them that it was our understanding an earlier appraisal was on file.  Staff was informed a “draft” existed, but it had been “destroyed.”

On September 20, 2013, the Committee sent a letter to Mayor Arakawa requesting, “any earlier versions of the appraisal of the property at Launiupoko, including drafts,” in addition to “any correspondence or other documents between the County and ACM Consultants, Inc., relating to the factors, conditions or other information.”  The response: “The Mayor and Managing Director have decided not to respond to your request.”

Therefore, the Committee held a hearing and invited the appraiser who completed the November 2, 2012 appraisal.  During the hearing, he stated, “initially we were to look at the properties as a bulk parcel, then based upon negotiations between the County and the seller, the assignment changed accordingly, according to how negotiations were going.”  The appraiser confirmed that he provided a “draft” appraisal based on the bulk land appraisal method.

After serious questioning at the October 29, 2013 hearing, which was held to authorize a second, unbiased, appraisal on the Launiupoko property, the Finance Director presented the Committee with an appraisal dated, October 3, 2012, in the amount of $8.7 million.  This was not the draft referred to by the appraiser.  This document should have been provided to the Committee when requested ten weeks earlier.

Since an official offer was made to the seller with the appraisal, it cannot be considered a “draft appraisal.”  In addition, the appraisal was not done as a “bulk parcel” valuation as stated by the appraiser on October 15, 2013.

With the Administration’s unwillingness to provide requested documents, the Council’s responsibility to scrutinize the deal and obtain the truth has been stalled.  The Council made the proper decision to order a second, independent appraisal so that there will be a valid estimate of value on which a decision can be made.

Many feel the Launiupoko lands are “priceless” and should be preserved at any cost.  However, we must be responsible with our resources and be mindful that while the land may be “priceless,” our resources are not endless.

It is the Council’s job to provide oversight of the Administration’s decisions.  We have done our job.  Unfortunately, through this process, we have once again exposed a splintered trust.

I look forward to receiving a new, unbiased appraisal that will allow the Council to make a responsible and informed decision on behalf of taxpayers and move ahead appropriately.

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Council honors World Series Winner Shane Victorino

At the Friday, November 15, 2013 Council Meeting, Councilmember White introduced a resolution on behalf of Chair Baisa and the other members of the Council to congratulate Shane Victorino of the Boston Red Sox for Winning the 2013 Major League Baseball World Series.

Shane’s parents, Councilmember Mike & Joycelyn Victorino were on hand to receive the resolution.

Councilmember White made the following remarks on the resolution:

It is with great pleasure and honor that we congratulate our Maui native, Shane Victorino of the Boston Red Sox for winning the 2013 World Series Championship.

It is amazing that such a wonderful athlete grew up right here in our backyard of Wailuku.  I have tracked Shane’s career over the years and I am continually amazed by his perseverance, talent and success.  He was a star member of the Philadelphia Phillies and played a key role in this most recent World Series win.

In fact, I could hear Mr. Victorino screaming for joy all the way in Olinda, when Shane hit his grand slam in game six of the American League Championship Series –- the key hit that sent the Rod Sox to the World Series.  I am sure that is a moment Shane and the entire Victorino Ohana will never forget.

I, along with many others throughout the community continue to be very proud of Shane and his accomplishments, but I feel that his success can also be attributed to his strong family support system. Mr. and Mrs. Victorino and his brother Michael Jr. and his extended Maui Ohana have all supported Shane from the beginning — from little league to the major leagues, and I know instilled important values in him.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Victorino for raising a fine young man, and I know you must have so much pride and joy.  Mrs. Victorino, I hear you have quite an impressive scrapbook collection dating back to when Shane first started playing sports – that is quite impressive and I know many fans would like to see it in the future!

In closing, there is so much to be said of Shane Victorino.  But, despite all of his success and busy schedule, I do want to thank him for continuing to give back to his hometown.  Through his foundation, he will be holding a baseball clinic and sharing his talent with our youth.  He is a great role model and an example of what can be accomplished if you dream big and work hard.

I send my congratulations to Shane and his entire Ohana on this special occasion and I look forward to another World Series win next year. Mahalo Chair.

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White to represent councils, selected to serve on Employer-Union Health Benefits Task Force

Press release by:
Office of Councilmember Mike White
Maui County Council

White to represent councils, selected to serve on Employer-Union Health Benefits Task Force

WAILUKU, Hawaii – The Hawaii State Association of Counties Executive Committee on Oct. 22 selected Maui County Councilmember Mike White to serve on the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund Task Force.

The HSAC Executive Committee also selected Hawaii County Councilmember Valerie Poindexter to serve as Councilmember White’s alternate.

Act 268 (2013), establishes the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund Task Force within the State Department of Budget and Finance.

The Task Force is required to examine the unfunded liability of the Trust Fund (known as the EUTF). Recent estimates put the EUTF’s unfunded liability around $11 billion to $18 billion. The Task Force must submit a report to the legislature, in consultation with the State Director of Finance, and include findings, recommendations and proposed legislation. The report must be submitted by Dec. 26.

“I am honored to be selected by my fellow Council members to serve on this important Task Force, and represent the views of all four county councils,” Councilmember White said. “The goal is to identify solutions that will address our unfunded liabilities, while upholding the benefits promised to our public employees.

“I look forward to the discussions that I hope will help shape the future of EUTF.”

Councilmember White served in the Hawaii State House of Representatives from 1993 to 1998 and was a member of the Finance Committee, among many other committee assignments. He chairs the Budget and Finance Committee of the Maui County Council and holds the Makawao-Haiku-Paia residency seat.

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