Published in The Maui News, May 22, 2016
By MIKE VICTORINO, for The Maui News
The County Council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, which I chair, will consider five resolutions proposing charter amendments Monday at 9 a.m.
A proposal from Council Member Riki Hokama would clarify the duties of the Cost of Government Commission, making it an advisory body to the county auditor. The commission would convene and provide advice at the request of the auditor, and would submit reports to the auditor, mayor and County Council.
In 2012, the county voters approved the establishment of the Office of the County Auditor to conduct evaluations of county agencies and operations. Similar duties are also assigned to the Cost of Government Commission, which creates the potential for unneeded redundancy.
Under another Hokama proposal, all department directors under the mayor would require council approval. Currently, the corporation counsel, the water director and the prosecuting attorney are the only agency heads subject to council confirmation.
Council Vice Chairman Don Guzman’s proposal would authorize attorneys working in the Office of Council Services to serve as legal advisers and representatives of the County Council and council members. The resolution states this would ensure “independent legal advice when there is an actual or potential conflict or disagreement between the executive and legislative branches of government.”
Attorneys within the Department of the Corporation Counsel, housed within the executive branch, provide legal advice and representation to all county agencies, officials and employees, including council members. The council can only obtain other official legal advice and representation by hiring special counsel.
Council Chairman Mike White has proposed charter amendments to establish a time limit of three days for signers to withdraw from a supplemental petition submitted to the county clerk, and to give the county clerk 20 days to verify the authenticity of supplemental petition signatures (instead of the current 10 days).
The charter is the County of Maui’s constitutional document. A charter amendment can be proposed by the council upon adoption of a resolution passed on two readings by a two-thirds vote of its membership. Any proposed charter amendments are subject to approval by the public at the general election ballot on Nov. 8.
The committee’s work on charter amendments must be completed within about a month to ensure sufficient time for council action and printing of the ballots. Testimony on charter amendments is open to the public and may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, referencing PIA-10.
The Special Committee on County Governance, created on the recommendation of my committee, is set to formally issue its recommendation on the council-manager form of government at the June 3 council meeting. The council can take action on the floor or refer the matter back to committee.
Also on Monday’s agenda are a report by the police department on alarm systems in the county and the fire department’s proposed joint-training agreement with an agency in the state of Washington.
* Mike Victorino is the presiding officer pro tempore of the Maui County Council and chairman of the council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. He holds the council seat for the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu 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.