Mayor Michael Victorino expressed his disappointment Friday with the Maui County Council’s first-reading passage of three proposed Maui County Charter amendments without sufficient study and review by the Charter Review Commission. The Commission will convene in 2021.
However, Mayor Victorino was pleased that the proposal to bifurcate the Department of Housing and Human Concerns did not pass. Instead, it will be sent to the Charter Review Commission, which will do its due diligence to determine whether a separate Department of Housing be more effective in generating more attainable and county-initiated housing.
“The commission will be able to determine whether splitting up the department would actually help generate more attainable housing or improve human services programs,” Mayor Victorino said.
“Regarding the three proposed amendments advanced on first reading, these proposals lack public discussion and review during the current COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Victorino said. “We need to look closely at whether these proposals would accomplish what they set out to do. Our Charter is our County Bible, our foundational document. It’s not something that should be changed on a whim, or on the idea that if something sounds good it’s the right thing to do.”
Mayor Victorino is not in favor of the following proposals:
Establishment of a Department of Agriculture.
“Aside from the unknown added costs of a new department amid uncertainty about the long-term budgetary impacts of COVID-19 on County revenues, this would create governmental redundancy because there’s already state and federal departments of agriculture,” Mayor Victorino said. “Farmers need support and promotion of agriculture, which does not need the creation of a new County department.”
Relating to conflicting interpretations of the Charter.
“This Charter amendment proposal raises many questions that should be addressed by a Charter Review Commission,” Mayor Victorino said. “The proposed standards of review are, themselves, open to subjective interpretation. Even now, the Council can already seek a declaratory ruling from a judicial authority to resolve a conflict of interpretation of the County Charter. It’s unclear what this proposed amendment would accomplish.”
A proposed amendment for the Charter Commission.
“This proposed amendment would remove the ‘check and balance’ of appointing members to the Charter Commission, with the legislative branch, empowered to ‘stack’ the commission with its appointees,” Mayor Victorino said.