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Maui County Council Blog

The Maui County Council is a nine-member legislative body of officials who are elected on at-large basis (i.e., all County voters can cast votes for all nine seats), one each from nine residency areas. Each Council member is elected for a two-year term.

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Jun 28

Old Wailuku Post Office Timeline

Posted on June 28, 2013 at 12:00 AM by Office of Council Services

Background:

The Old Wailuku Post Office property is located at the corner of Wells and High Streets in Downtown Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii. The County Building, at 200 S. High St., is on the opposite side of Wells Street. The Old Wailuku Post Office was constructed in 1959 and demolished early in 2013. The property is currently being used as a temporary parking lot for County employees. This post provides an unofficial timeline of events relating to the post office’s demolition and the Policy and Intergovernmental Committee’s subsequent recommendation for an investigation.

Old Wailuku Post Office Before and After

April 10, 2009: Purchase of Old Wailuku Post Office considered by Tavares Administration

The Maui News reported that the County was considering the purchase of the Old Wailuku Post Office for office use and that further study was required to determine whether to rehabilitate or demolish the structure:

http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/517074.html

May 15, 2009: Council approved purchase

The Council adopted Resolution 09-47, authorizing the Tavares Administration to purchase the Old Wailuku Post Office for approximately $1.5 million. The resolution said that “the Property is being considered for use by the County in the County's Wailuku Campus Space Study”:

http://www.co.maui.hi.us/documents/24/99/253/Reso 09-047.PDF

Sept. 3, 2010: Options for use of property reviewed

Stan Zitnik, First Assistant to the Managing Director, submitted a report entitled “Old Wailuku Post Office Property Inspection Report.” The report was based on a Property Condition Assessment prepared by Hawaii Inspection Group. According to the report, “the building is structurally sound and building rehabilitation for County use is a viable option.” The Zitnik report provided four options: (1) leave the building unoccupied; (2) use the building solely for storage; (3) use the building for storage and office space; or (4) demolish the building and construct a new one. The fourth option was the most expensive.

March 18, 2011: Funding for “Rehabilitation” project proposed

Mayor Alan M. Arakawa transmitted his proposed Fiscal Year 2012 Budget, which included an appropriation of $1.5 million for the initial design of the “Old Wailuku Post Office Rehabilitation” project so the building could be used for storage and office space, the third option in the Zitnik report. The “Budget Details” described the project as follows:

Rehabilitation of the Old Wailuku Post Office acquired by the County of Maui in 2009 to allow for occupancy for offices, meeting rooms, and storage.  Improvements anticipated included rehabilitation of roof to prevent water intrusion and to extend life span, upgrade 50-year old electrical, removal of asbestos on the first and second floors, removal of lead where necessary throughout the building, removal of mold in the basement, fire sprinkler improvements, exterior concrete repairs, and necessary structural repairs.

July 1, 2011: Appropriation for “Rehabilitation” project took effect

The Fiscal Year 2012 Budget, including the appropriation for Old Wailuku Post Office Rehabilitation, took effect:

http://www.mauicounty.gov/DocumentCenter/Index/3733

Feb. 1, 2013: Budget and Finance Committee questioned authority for demolition

At the second Budget and Finance Committee meeting of the 2013-2015 Council term, new Committee Chair Mike White questioned the Administration’s authority for the recently commenced demolition of the Old Wailuku Post Office.

Meeting minutes:
http://www.mauicounty.gov/Archive.aspx?ADID=17947

Feb. 26, 2013: Funding for “Kalana O Maui Campus Expansion” project proposed

The Budget and Finance Committee reviewed a proposed bill to amend the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget by adding $1.5 million appropriation for the “Kalana O Maui Campus Expansion” project. The project encompassed much of the Wailuku Civic Center, including the Old Wailuku Post Office property (across Wells Street from the County Building). 

Meeting minutes:
http://www.co.maui.hi.us/Archive.aspx?ADID=17811


March 25, 2013: Budget chair formally questioned whether demolition was legally appropriate

Councilmember White asked the Department of the Corporation Counsel, which provides legal advice and representation to both the Administration and the Council, for a written legal opinion as to whether the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget was violated through the encumbrance of contracts relating to the demolition of the Old Wailuku Post Office.  

April 15, 2013: County legal office refrained from advising Council, citing conflict

Corporation Counsel Patrick Wong declined to provide a legal opinion, claiming a conflict of interest and citing Rule 1.13 of Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct. Corporation Counsel Wong suggested retaining special counsel, among other means of determining the legality of the demolition.

May 21, 2013: Proposal for special counsel to advise Council introduced

Councilmember White introduced a resolution to retain special counsel to advise the Council regarding the potential misuse of County funds:

http://www.mauicounty.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/17976

May 26, 2013: Councilmember White wrote in The Maui News about the need for special counsel 

In a Viewpoint entitled “Taxpayer dollars must be spent as authorized by County Council,” Councilmember White opined that special counsel was necessary and stated that “the Maui County Council never authorized the demolition, the use of funds to demolish the building or the use of funds to plan for a massive expansion of the county complex, estimated to cost upward of $48 million”:

http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/573057/Viewpoint--Taxpayer-dollars-must-be-spent--as-authorized-by-County-Council.html?nav=18

May 31, 2013: Committee deferred action on special counsel, discussed preference for first investigating

The Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee deferred consideration of the proposal to hire special counsel, as Councilmember Don S. Guzman suggested the committee consider an investigation prior to hiring special counsel. On the following day, The Maui News reported on the discussion in a story entitled “Council to probe if funds misused in demolition”:

http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/573203/Council-to-probe-if-funds-misused-in-demolition.html

June 6, 2013: Proposal for formal investigation introduced

Councilmember Riki Hokama
Councilmember Riki Hokama introduced a resolution authorizing the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee to investigate the Old Wailuku Post Office demolition:

http://www.co.maui.hi.us/Archive.aspx?ADID=17977

June 6, 2013: Mayor Arakawa proposed budget bills to authorize “demolition”

Mayor Arakawa wrote to Council Chair Gladys C. Baisa, requesting consideration of legislation to approve two budget amendments for the purpose of resolving the question whether demolition of the Old Wailuku Post Office was approved. 

June 10, 2013: Councilmember Hokama issued press release about the need for investigation

Councilmember Hokama issued a press release entitled “Council committee to consider investigating the Old Wailuku Post Office,” referencing the June 17 meeting of the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee:

http://www.mauicounty.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=4477

June 14, 2013: Council Chair Baisa issued press release announcing special Council meeting to consider Mayor’s proposed budget amendment

Council Chair Baisa issued a press release announcing a special Council meeting on June 19, to consider the legislation proposed by the Mayor on June 6, in part because “‘the administration . . . is hopeful that the (scheduled) proposed bills will address concerns regarding the use of funds from the Old Wailuku Post Office Rehabilitation appropriation.”:

http://www.mauicounty.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=4492

June 17, 2013: Committee recommended formal investigation

At a Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee meeting, the Managing Director gave oral testimony apologizing for any miscommunication or misunderstanding regarding approval to demolish the Old Wailuku Post Office. By a 6-3 vote, the committee recommended the Council adopt a resolution authorizing the committee to conduct a formal investigation into possible misuse of County funds relating to the Old Wailuku Post Office demolition. The Maui News reported on the committee’s action the following day:

http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/573708/Panel-votes-to-investigate-demolition.html

Excerpts:
White, who voted in favor of the resolution, said that this effort wasn't a case of the council going after the mayor but "us doing our job."
"We are responsible for doing the checks and balances," he said. "We are responsible for the fact-finding."
* * *
"We do not need special counsel," countered Carroll, who opposed the resolution. "We do not need an investigative committee."
If the demolition funding had come before the council, Carroll believes the council would have approved it anyway.
* * *
Even though some council members said that the administration and council should work together like a family, Hokama maintained that in families there are disagreements.
"Someone made a decision that they didn't need to follow the process or the (County) Charter," he said.

June 19, 2013: At special meeting, Council declined to consider Mayor’s proposed budget amendments
After its committee recommended a formal investigation two days earlier, the full Council decided not to consider the corrective or clarifying legislation submitted by Mayor Arakawa earlier in the month, as reported by MauiNow.com:

http://mauinow.com/2013/06/19/waiver-associated-with-post-office-demolition-fails-to-pass/

June 21, 2013: The Maui News editorialized with a request to resolve the dispute 

In an editorial entitled “Time to admit mistake made,” The Maui News urged the Mayor to acknowledge that the Administration “lacked the formal approval to use the funds for demolition”:

http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/573803/Time-to-admit-mistake-made.html?nav=9

June 27, 2013: Maui Time Weekly questioned need for investigation

Asserting that the Council members were aware of the demolition before questioning it, Maui Time Weekly questioned whether there was a need for a formal committee investigation:

http://mauifeed.com/headline/is-the-maui-county-council-nuts-for-wanting-an-investigation-into-the-arakawa-administrations-demolition-of-the-old-wailuku-post-office/ 

June 28, 2013: Committee report recommending adoption of investigation resolution issued

The Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee issued its report recommending a formal investigation into the Old Wailuku Post Office demolition:

http://www.mauicounty.gov/index.aspx?nid=595

June 28, 2013: Council agenda posted

The Council posted an agenda for a meeting at 9 a.m. on July 5 to consider the recommendation that the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee be authorized to conduct a formal investigation:

http://www.mauicounty.gov/index.aspx?nid=595

June 28, 2013: Mayor apologized to Council

Mayor Alan Arakawa issued a statement in a press conference. The Mayor acknowledged that the administration "forgot some of the formal aspects of the process."

"We made a mistake and I apologize for it," said Arakawa. "As the mayor, I take full responsibility for this situation."

The Mayor added: "I ask that the council help us, and help the community, by moving forward with the Kalana O Maui Campus Expansion project."


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