Published in The Maui News, November 8, 2015
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News
Innovative reforms in county government are on the way, thanks to legislation being considered by the Maui County Council this month.
The council is committed to designing roadways for all modes of transportation – taking into account pedestrians, bicyclists, persons with disabilities and public transit. This is the “complete streets” concept.
A bill up for second and final reading on Nov. 20 would amend the county budget to appropriate $10,000 in state grant funding to train public works staff on how to create complete streets. This will help implement the complete streets policy endorsed by the council three years ago in Resolution 12-34.
Another bill being considered on second reading at the Nov. 20 meeting would appropriate $150,000 to allow county prosecutors to take more cases to Drug Court and Mental Health Court. These courts reduce crime by making treatment available to qualified offenders with substance abuse or mental health issues.
The council will consider a recommendation from the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Presiding Officer Pro Tempore Mike Victorino, to establish a special committee on county governance. This advisory body would study the county manager form of government as an alternative to Maui County’s current mayor-council structure.
For the structure of government to be effectively evaluated, careful consideration by both council members and the general public will continue to be important. I appreciate all those who came to testify in committee on Monday and look forward to more testimony on Nov. 20.
The council on Friday asked the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee to review a resolution approving the donation of a scent-tracking dog to the police department. From my experience, a well-trained dog can provide assistance in a wide variety of police work, including rescues and investigations.
At the same meeting, the council referred to the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee, chaired by Council Member Elle Cochran, a bill to require certain new establishments to provide baby diaper-changing accommodations. The bill was introduced by Cochran following the Honolulu City Council’s enactment of a similar ordinance.
In an earlier review of the bill, the Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee, chaired by Council Member Stacy Crivello, noted the legislation could have unintended and unfair consequences in rural areas such as Lanai and Molokai. I am hopeful the legislation can be crafted to ensure it doesn’t shackle Maui County’s small businesses.
The Planning Committee, chaired by Council Member Don Couch, is working diligently to establish the Lanai Community Plan. This is an important ordinance for many reasons.
Not only will the community plan guide development of the island of Lanai for decades to come, it will also establish a template for other community plans in Maui County. That’s because the Lanai Community Plan is the first to be considered under the county’s new community plan update process.
* Mike White is chairman of the Maui County Council and vice chairman of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee. He holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao 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.