Election 2002


Maui voters weigh
Charter proposals

A proposed amendment would affect
how initiatives are put onto a ballot

» Proposed Maui amendments
» Expect close Maui race

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> Maui County voters may be spending more time than usual in the voting booth in the general election on Nov. 5, as they face 17 proposals to change their Charter.

County Clerk Roy Hiraga said the number of proposed Charter amendments is the most he's seen in the last 14 years.

Proposed Charter changes include extending the County Council term to four years from two, giving the water board more or less power, and easing requirements for voter initiatives.

Some residents believe the current Charter is too restrictive in the time and the number of signatures required to place a voter initiative on the ballot.

Political observers say at least in the last 25 years and perhaps longer, there has never been a county voter initiative on the ballot.

The proposed change in initiative, introduced by Councilman Wayne Nishiki and added by the Council, would extend the period for gathering signatures to 180 from 30 days.

Maui voters can expect to spend a little extra time in the voting booth this year with a full slate of County Charter amendments.

The proposal would also change the number of signatures needed to get an initiative on the ballot. The current requirement is 20 percent of registered voters in the county.

The amendment would require 20 percent of the votes cast in the mayoral race in the previous general election.

Under the new formula, 41 percent fewer signatures would be needed to get an initiative on the ballot.

Lucienne de Naiae, an official with the group Maui Tomorrow, said easing the restriction on initiatives will increase voter interest and allow citizens to have a direct effect on county decisions.

De Naiae said in California, voter initiatives have pushed forward progressive legislation, including fair housing.

Maui Contractors Association President Mike Singlehurst who opposes easing the initiative requirement said voter initiatives are passed based on advertising campaigns and decisions should be left to Council members.

"We elect people to make decisions based on fact and not emotions," he said.

Singlehurst recalled how an initiative stopped the development at Nukolii on Kauai, causing the developer and contractor to lose money.

He said a subsequent initiative allowed the continuation of the development.

Maui voters will also be deciding whether to lengthen a Council term to four from two years.

As part of the amendment, Council members would be able to serve three consecutive terms or 12 consecutive years, whichever is longer, starting 2004.

Under the current Charter, a Council term is two years and a Council member may serve no more than five consecutive full terms.

Lynne Woods, president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce, said lengthening the terms would allow Council members time to carry out their agenda.

"We really feel it will take county government to a new level," Woods said.

Kula resident Dick Mayer, a retired economics professor who opposes the change, fears lengthening the Council terms could lead to a lack of accountability.

"They wouldn't have to meet the voters as often," he said.

County voters are being asked if they want to give more or less independence to the county Board of Water Supply.

The board currently has the power to select a director.

But it has to obtain mayoral and Council approval to raise water rates and establish regulations.

One proposal gives the board more power by allowing it to set rates and regulations.

The other would lessen its power and place it and its director under the mayor's administration.

Norma Piltz, a former water board member, said she felt the board's powers should be increased so that it had the power to obtain the financing necessary to carry out the best public policies.

Mayer said that he supports placing the water board under the mayor's administration because it will lead to more accountability.

Mayer said the board would also be able to improve its integration of policies with community plans.


Amendments to the
Maui County Charter

Question No. 1: Should the Article 1 of the Charter be amended to confirm the equal worth and dignity of every individual?

Question No. 2: Should the terms of Council members be lengthened from two (2) to four (4) years, with term limits of three (3) consecutive terms or twelve (12) consecutive years (whichever shall be longer), beginning in 2004, with term limits to be staggered?

Question No. 3: Should the responsibilities of the corporation counsel be clarified to state explicitly that the corporation counsel is the legal adviser and representative of the County of Maui, the Council, the mayor, all county departments, and all boards and commissions, and to state that the corporation counsel shall perform additional duties "as may be incident to the department or required by law" instead of the current "as shall be assigned by the mayor"?

Question No. 4: Should the name of the Department of Public Works and Waste Management be changed to be the "Department of Public Works and Environmental Management" and should its responsibilities be broadened to include supervision of environmental management and pollution, including solid waste collection, recycling, litter control, and protection of the unique beauty of Maui County?

Question No. 5: (A) Should the name of the Department of Fire Control be changed to be the "Department of Fire and Public Safety"? (B) Should the name of the Public Safety Commission be changed to be the "Fire and Public Safety Commission"? (C) Should this Commission be given the responsibility to hire and fire the fire chief and the power to review the department's budget? (D) Should the duties of the fire chief be clarified to include responsibilities over rescue and first-responder emergency services, public education, training, and monitoring the standards for construction and occupancy of buildings?

Question No. 6: Should the planning process be clarified whereby (A) the duties of the Department of Planning would include long-range planning and management of cultural resources, (B) the department would be required to enforce zoning ordinances, (C) the Planning Commission would be required to review and take action on revisions to the General Plan and on amendments to land-use ordinances within 180 and 120 days respectively after the final public hearing, (D) the purpose and nature of the General Plan would be clarified by incorporating language from Section 226-58 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, (E) the planning director would be required to issue an annual report on the implementation and enforcement of the General Plan and the community plans, and (F) the County Council would be required to take action on revisions to the General Plan proposed by the planning director within one year and on proposed revisions to zoning and land-use ordinances within 180 days?

Question No. 7: Should the role of the Citizen Advisory Committees be to review and recommend revisions to the community plans and to stay in existence until their recommended revisions are approved, modified or rejected by the Council and the mayor, and should the community plans once approved become part of the General Plan?

Question No. 7A: Should the role of the Citizen Advisory Committees be to review and recommended revisions to the community plans, to monitor the implementation and enforcement of the general and community plans at least every 10 years, and shall these Citizen Advisory Committees be permanent for each community plan district?

Question No. 8: Should the Civil Service Commission have the power to remove the director of personnel services, but only after the director has been given notice of charges and has been granted a hearing?

Question No. 9: Should the Department and Board of Water Supply be restructured to have more control to operate, whereby (A) the department would have the authority to coordinate private water systems (while respecting existing property rights), and (B) the department would have the responsibility to prepare water use and development plans for each community plan district and a long-range capital improvement plan (both of which would be updated every five years); whereby (C) the Board of Water Supply would be restructured so that the directors of the departments of Planning and Public Works become voting members of the board and the other seven members would be appointed by the mayor with approval of the Council for three-year terms (subject to being reappointed once), (D) the board would be given the power to establish rules and set rates without further review, (E) the board would be required to evaluate the director annually, and (F) the board could hire (using the department's revenues) independent legal counsel by a two-thirds vote when necessary; and whereby (G) an independent audit would be conducted annually, after which the Council could make recommendations for changes?

Question No. 9A: Should the department and Board of Water Supply be restructured in a manner whereby (A) the department would become a regular county agency subject to the mayor's executive management oversight and (B) the board would be recast as an advisory body (with the power to recommend budget proposals and rate adjustments), whereby (C) the mayor would be assigned the power to appoint the director (with the approval of the Council) and (D) the mayor and Council would continue to have final approval of rates and regulations; whereby (E) the department would have the responsibility to survey public and private water sources and (F) prepare and annually update a plan (subject to Council approval) and implement such approved plans, and whereby (G) the Council would have the power to issue general obligations bonds and provide appropriations for capital improvements of the water system?

Question No. 10: Should a new Department of Transportation be created, to be directed by a director of transportation who would have responsibility for planning and coordinating the development of new highways and public transportation as well as transportation in the air and on water?

Question No. 11: Should the terms of the members of the Salary Commission be staggered so that two of the nine members would be appointed (or reappointed) each year (except that only one would be appointed or reappointed every fifth year)?

Question No. 12: Should a minimum of 1 percent of the real property tax revenues be put each fiscal year into the Open Space, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources, and Scenic Views Preservation Fund to be used for purchasing lands or other property entitlements to preserve open space, and should the unspent revenues in this fund remain in the fund, and not lapse, thereby accumulating from year to year?

Question No. 13: Should boards and commissions be allowed to meet in accessible privately owned locations when public owned buildings are not available or appropriate for their meeting?

Question No. 14: Should the provisions of the Maui County Charter be modified by nonsubstantive "housekeeping" changes including (A) removing obsolete provisions, (B) using gender-neutral language throughout the Charter, (C) using Hawaiian language spellings for Hawaiian place names, (D) describing the Council residency areas in geographical terms (instead of by reference to voting precincts), (E) eliminating references to political parties to fill Council vacancies, (F) changing "crime of moral turpitude" to "felony" with reference to the disqualification of the mayor, (G) clarifying restrictions on County employees appearing before boards and commissions, and (H) renumbering sections as appropriate in light of other amendments?

Question No. 15: Should the Charter provision requiring the Council to route public-record requests through the mayor be deleted in conformity with the Uniform Information Practices Act?

Question No. 16: Should the Council have the power to nominate and approve the appointment of an individual to fill a vacancy on a board or commission if the mayor fails to submit the name of a nominee within the time period provided for by the Charter?

Question No. 17: Should the process for proposing an ordinance by initiative be changed by: (A) increasing the time allowed to gather necessary signatures from 30 days to 180 days; (B) reducing the number of necessary signatures from 20 percent of registered voters to 20 percent of the total number of voters who cast ballots in the prior mayoral general election; and (C) submitting a proposed ordinance to the voters at a general election (instead of at a special election).

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