Supporters come out to testify for Taylor
WAILUKU — County Department of Water Supply workers and members of the community urged Maui County Council members to retain Water Director Dave Taylor, despite Mayor Alan Arakawa calling for his ouster.
Because public testimony took all day Friday, the Maui County County was unable to take any action on a resolution by Arakawa to remove Taylor from the position and allow Arakawa to appoint a new director. On Nov. 15, Arakawa removed Taylor from his office, but County Charter requires the council to confirm the termination. Taylor is on administrative leave. Deputy Director Gladys Baisa is serving as acting director.
The resolution, sent to the council the same day Taylor was removed, gave no reason for Taylor’s removal.
At the time, county spokesman Rod Antone said the matter was between the mayor and Taylor and had to deal with “mostly Wailuku Water Co.” The county is seeking to purchase its ditch system and 8,764 acres of its West Maui Mountains watershed lands.
“The mayor has no problems with Dave personally,” Antone said at the time. “He and the mayor don’t always agree. They’re just kind of parting ways.”
On Friday, Taylor was in the audience in Council Chambers. He declined to elaborate on the matter, but said he would stay if the council denied the resolution.
Earlier this month, Taylor said he and the mayor had some disagreements, but he was not being accused of wrongdoing.
Water department staff members and community members urged council members to keep Taylor on staff.
Curt Eaton, an engineer with the water department, said he had nothing to gain from testifying but was concerned about where Taylor’s departure would leave the department, since Taylor has been educating the department and the public about water issues and even has found ways to cut down the wait for some residents on the Upcountry water meter list.
“I recommend you vote to keep Dave Taylor; he has been good for our department,” Eaton said.
Another water department staffer, Helene Kau, said: “Our director has always been customer-focused.”
She described how Taylor has had the department develop long-range planning for capital improvement projects and how it has replaced aging infrastructure, among other accomplishments.
“I’m proud to say our residents enjoy some of the best water in the state, with some of the lowest rates in the state,” Kau said.
Council Member Alika Atay, chairman of the council’s Water Resources Committee, asked Kau if she wants Taylor to continue in his job.
“Yes,” Kau replied.
Rose Marie Duey and her husband, John Duey, who’ve been at the forefront in the struggle over Na Wai Eha water rights, also supported Taylor.
“I will say, that please do not use this for politics,” Rose Marie Duey said. “Water is a very important issue to the Na Wai Eha. Unless there is any wrongdoing by Mr. Taylor, I’m for him staying.”
John Duey said he doesn’t always agree with Taylor, but said Taylor respects his opinions and his views.
Duey said he has been impressed by Taylor’s technical skills and knowledge.
“Don’t remove him for unknown things,” he said.
He added that in a year, Arakawa will be out of office.
Taylor has been water director for nearly seven years. The job pays $135,884 annually.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.