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Public hearing set to resolve conflicts over council committees

Comments sought on establishing committees, their duties and who can serve on which ones

With Maui County Council members questioning the responsibilities and membership of proposed standing committees, a public hearing has been called for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16 in Council Chambers in Wailuku.

The new council, which has chosen its leaders but not the chairs and members of its committees, will be taking public comment on a resolution establishing standing committees, defining their duties and appointing their members.

Council Members Riki Hokama and Kelly King have submitted alternative proposals, according to a public notice from the County Council.

An official with council Chairman Mike White’s office indicated Friday that those alternative proposals likely would be available Monday, when the agenda for the council meeting following the hearing is to be posted.

The current proposal includes four committees with nine voting members and four committees with seven voting members. Under the proposal, the Budget and Finance Committee would be chaired by Hokama; Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee by Stacy Crivello; Infrastructure and the Environmental Management Committee by Elle Cochran; Land Use by Bob Carroll; Parks, Recreation, Energy and Legal Affairs by Don Guzman; Planning by King; Policy, Economic Development and Agriculture by Yuki Lei Sugimura; and Water Resources by Alika Atay.

At a marathon and contentious council meeting Monday that continued into early Tuesday, the council elected White chairman in a 5-4 vote and Carroll, vice chairman. Crivello was chosen as presiding officer pro tempore.

However, the council was unable to establish standing committees in that 13¢-hour meeting that began Monday after a lengthy public hearing. Council members complained about the size of committees, that they were skewed in favor of the majority and about the duties of the committees. Council members King, Cochran and Atay called for a public hearing on the committees.

Jan. 16, which is Martin Luther King Day, was the earliest date available to assemble the members with a crowded calender of events that week, said White’s staffer. The opening day of the state Legislature is Jan. 18 and the presidential inauguration is Jan. 20.

The council has been at a virtual standstill because of a lack of committees, which perform the bulk of the work of crafting legislation, council members have said.

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