Mayor names 3 rejected directors on interim basis

Victorino says charter allows temporary appointments, though Goode lacks end date

John D. Kim

Three department directors voted out by the Maui County Council have been appointed to serve as temporary directors until Mayor Michael Victorino can find their replacements.

Victorino announced Monday that he had appointed John D. Kim as temporary interim prosecuting attorney until Friday, William Spence as temporary interim director of the Department of Housing and Human Concerns until March 17 and David Goode as temporary interim director of the Department of Public Works. Victorino did not list an end date for Goode.

Council members denied the three directors at a final confirmation vote on Friday.

Victorino said in a statement on Monday evening that he already had some people in mind to fill some of the positions and was still searching for others. He said he was taking the time to interview the candidates. Under the Maui County Charter, Victorino has 60 days to submit new names.

“When I have found new, qualified candidates, who share my vision of delivering outstanding customer service to the people of Maui County, I will nominate them for director positions,” Victorino said.

William Spence

According to the County Charter, the mayor has 60 days after taking office to appoint his director nominees. The council then has 60 days to confirm or deny them. If the council denies a nominee, he or she “shall not continue in office.” The mayor then has to come up with a new name within 60 days of the council’s denial.

However, Victorino said that the charter also gives the mayor “the authority to appoint, on a temporary basis, an administrative head of any department, provided that such department is one where the administrative head is appointed by the mayor,” per article 6, section 6-2(4).

Council Member Mike Molina, chairman of the Governance, Ethics and Transparency Committee that has been vetting the directors, was somewhat surprised by the news.

“My initial understanding was that once a director was not confirmed by the council, it was basically the director’s last day, and the clock starts for the mayor to submit a new nominee,” Molina said. “I guess he found something, I don’t know if it’s a loophole or what. Let’s see what happens.”

Molina added that he was “open to cutting the mayor a little slack if he needed a few days,” and that “as far as the open-ended date for Mr. Goode, again, I’ll leave that for the lawyers to decide.”

David Goode

However, Molina said that the mayor’s decision “has created an interesting dilemma” that the council may not have foreseen when the charter was changed to allow the council to confirm directors.

“It would seem to me at this point not all of the loopholes were closed,” Molina said. “If anything at all, this has shown there may need to be some amendments to the ordinance.”

If Victorino can come up with a replacement for Kim by Friday, Molina said he would schedule a hearing with the committee for March 12.

Council Chairwoman Kelly King could not be immediately reached for comment Monday evening.

Both King and Molina said in earlier interviews on Monday that council members had learned a lot from their first time vetting the mayor’s 11 nominees. The process lasted about a month and included several hours of questioning for each director.

“As chair, I intend to keep things a bit tighter and encourage members to get questions answered early on so we can avoid as many recessed meetings as we can,” Molina said. “There were times when I think things were a little long. I don’t want to stifle discussions or questions because it is the council’s role to answer the questions that citizens have.”

Molina said he heard some people liken the process to a court proceeding where some of the nominees were guilty until proven innocent. But overall, Molina said he thought the questions were appropriate.

“I would say in defense of my colleagues, they were asked by members of the public to make these inquiries of the nominees, and it’s their right to do so,” Molina said.

King also thought that council members could be more efficient.

“The thing I would change is cutting down on repetitive questioning and the council members who did more commenting than questioning,” King said. She explained that there needs to be “a clear delineation between what is actual questioning based on your desire to know something that’s going to affect your vote, and what is just deliberating early and just commentary for commentary’s sake.”

With another round of vetting on the horizon and budget talks coming up in March, the council could be juggling two big tasks at the same time. King said that she’s working with Budget Committee Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez to make the budget process “a lot less time intensive” and keep meetings to eight hours at most. In between meetings, King said, there would likely be time to schedule hearings on the new director nominees, and vetting three appointees should take less time than the first go-around.

“I feel like we need directors who are going to bring the community together,” King said. “That’s what we were told by the mayor, that he wants customer service. To me, even if you’re technically qualified, if you’re not going to bring the community together over what we all want and what the goals are of the county . . . then you’re not doing the most important part of your job.”

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@maui news.com.

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