CHAIR’S 3 MINUTES
Published in The Maui News, Jan. 15, 2017
By MIKE WHITE
At the County Council’s organizational meeting on Jan. 2, three council members, Kelly King, Elle Cochran and Alika Atay, formally requested a public hearing on the council’s committee structure.
In an ideal situation, the establishment of committees would have been settled on Jan. 2, allowing for preparations to be well underway in tackling important issues facing our county.
Since this was not the case, the council remains in a holding pattern. However, I respect the rights of my fellow members to request for a hearing. Both a public hearing and a council meeting are scheduled for Monday at 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers to finalize committee assignments.
As stated in the Rules of the Council, “The purpose of the standing committees is to provide well-considered recommendations to the council on all bills, resolutions and other legislative matters referred to the standing committees by the council.”
Committees are established by a council-adopted resolution. There are currently three proposals being considered: the original as presented at the council’s organizational meeting, one from Council Member Riki Hokama, and an additional proposal from King.
Copies of the resolutions with descriptions of each committee jurisdiction, along with a roster of proposed members, are available at mauicounty.us/agendas.
All three proposals establish eight standing committees and provide every council member a leadership role as a committee chair. This structure represents the desire to share leadership responsibilities among all members of the council.
Under King’s proposal, all nine council members are slated to be a member of every committee.
While I understand the desire to have a hand in every committee, it does not make practical sense. This past term, the council had three nine-member committees and six seven-member committees. Yet, many committees had a difficult time scheduling and maintaining a quorum during regularly scheduled meetings.
After seeing the workings of the council over the past few terms, multiple members requested improvements to the operations of the committees — most notably by freeing up time for members to work on crafting quality legislation.
Crafting legislation takes time and research prior to a meeting, which usually involves correspondence and meetings with department heads and resource persons.
There is a minimum number of members, or sufficient quorum, to consider action on agenda items during a meeting. For a seven-member committee, a minimum of four must be in attendance; a nine-member committee requires a minimum of five.
Council members who are nonvoting members may still participate in the proceedings and discussion of agenda items, but their attendance is not counted for quorum.
The original committee proposal assigned members to at least six of the eight standing committees. Hokama’s proposal left the size of committees similar to the last term, and assigned members a seat on at least seven of the eight standing committees.
Both the original proposal and Hokama’s proposal also balance out the workload of committees. For example, the Planning Committee will have to tackle the Molokai Community Plan, revisions to the process of updating community plans, along with the daunting process of reconciliation of land use maps that may be unclear as the county transitions from paper to digital.
These projects alone will keep the Planning Committee extremely busy. In response, legislation relating to land use ordinances not specific to a project is proposed to be shifted to the Land Use Committee.
This entire process is a give and take. As council members, I know we want to do it all, but we simply cannot. We must work together and trust our fellow members in order to prevent delays in enacting legislation. For me, it has been and always will be about bettering our community and I know my fellow members share this feeling. I look forward to the public hearing, but no more delays. Let’s get to work for on behalf of our community.
* Mike White is chair of the Maui County Council. 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.