Community divisions displayed at anticlimatic county council meeting last week

Among a number of dramatic moments, council member Keani Rawlins-Fernandez has been accused of reinforcing gender stereotypes by Madge Schaefer, member of Mayor Victorino’s selection committee

Last week the Maui County Council summoned for what was supposed to be the conclusion of the confirmation process Mayor Mike Victorino‘s first round of candidates for head of county departments. After nearly 70 witnesses came to Council rooms To testify on Feb.15, time passed for council members to vote definitively on Victorino’s candidates, postponing decision making to a Feb.22 meeting. Despite the dismal end of the one-day meeting, there were a few notes worth revisiting. Here are three that reveal divisions within Mauiof the community that will play in the time to come.

Acting prosecutor and appointed by Victorino JD Kim

Deputy Prosecutors Defend John D. Kim

The January 30 meeting of Government, Ethics and Transparency Commission resulted in a 5-4 vote to disapprove of JD Kim serve as prosecutor and prepare the ground for conflict. When the council met on February 15 to formally pass the disapproval resolution, Kim’s supporters from the prosecutor’s office came out in force to challenge the claims made at the committee meeting and praise their boss. .

“Our opinion on the matter of JD Kim as a prosecutor is based on first-hand experience and expertise in the field of law enforcement, and not on one-sided opinion, speculation and rumors from sources not disclosed and anonymous, which your committee appears to be making its decisions about, ”said Assistant Prosecutor Joanne Hicks.

After crediting Kim for her leadership, she aimed at board members. “Right now, your advice is the reason for the distraction and the low morale in the office. None of you are licensed practicing lawyers, and none of you have done the hard work that our wonderful staff do. None of you work in my office. Some of you are inexperienced, new board members who have only been in office for a few months. “

“If something is really of concern to you, you have a duty to do your due diligence as a board member and to act on it,” she added, responding to allegations of public misconduct. “Instead, whenever the option of the executive [off-the-record] The session was raised for one of you, all of you declined, and in my opinion none of you have done your due diligence to conduct a proper hearing. “

Some of these allegations came from people involved in litigation, which is why an executive session was suggested. Kimberlyn scott, whose daughter Charli was the victim in a high-profile murder case, was one of those opponents of JD Kim.

“The things that JD Kim has done are blatant, they cross the line, they should not be tolerated,” she told the council. “I love that there are a whole bunch of lawyers here testifying on behalf of JD Kim. I want to stress that I have not seen any other victims and this is a huge demographic that they face on a daily basis. He makes decisions that permanently affect our lives.

Acting Director of Public Works David Goode

Board member Keani Rawlins-Fernandez accused of reinforcing gender stereotypes

During a meeting of the GET committee on February 7, Member of the Rawlins-Fernandez Council issued an amazing rebuke to act Director of Public Works David Goode.

“If I am brought to tears today, it will be because it will be for the unforgivable and irreparable harm you have caused to Maui during your time and under your watch,” she said, her voice trembling. “If I cry it will be for the kupuna iwi [ancestral bones] that you allowed to be violated, for ‘Iao that you allowed to be violated of his mana, reducing the sacred pohaku [stones] to material debris, [for] the blind eye you close as development projects have been allowed to destroy the ancient walls of my people, to level heiau [shrines] and previously protected sites. Auwé!

It was a highlight, but it didn’t go well with Madge Schaefer, member of the selection committee for Mayor Victorino who appeared on February 15 to testify in favor of all the mayor’s candidates.

“I saw David Goode being blamed for the desecration in a very moving way,” she said. “As an elected official long ago, when women were not common as elected officials, the stereotype was that women were too emotional to take up leadership positions. This stereotype has grown stronger.

Of course, these comments did not go overy well either, and on February 19, a petition urging Victorino to “immediately remove Madge Schaefer from your committee and issue a public apology to our community and Maui County Council” reached 416 signatures. The petition accuses Shaefer of “launching an overtly sexist attack on board member Keani Rawlins-Fernandez and all the women in leadership positions in Maui County … His hateful comments mar the process and foster a hostile work environment for women.

Councilor Tamara Paltin. Lawyer William Sloper Says His Questions Regarding US Occupation Of Hawai’i “Madness”

Lawyer William Sloper denounces noisy local minority

At one point in his testimony in support of acting Legal advisor to the company Patrick Wong and acting prosecutor JD Kim, lawyer Guillaume Slope rhetorically asked why he was there. It was not a good sign. The lawyer, who has worked professionally with Kim and Wong for years, quickly praised the candidates before criticizing their disapproval by the board.

“Sadly what we have here on Maui is a very loud, vocal minority of individuals who insist that things be done their own way,” Sloper said. “I have no doubts that the members of this body will hear these very local, minority and loud individuals when you make decisions with which they do not agree. Just because someone speaks the loudest doesn’t mean their decision is the best.

Sloper dubbed: “Everything I could take [from the hearing of Pat Wong] was the madness of the member [Tamara] Paltin asking Mr. Wong about the illegal occupation of United States here in Hawaii. “

These comments prompted a response from another witness, Noelani Ahia, who approached the stand quietly and opened, “I will whisper so that my native humanity does not offend settlers who are offended by a noisy local minority.”

“Why are we the minority? She asked, speaking now in a passionate and assertive tone. “Because in 1893 our queen was illegally overthrown. There is a permanent military occupation, still ongoing, which is illegal under international law. We have been dispossessed of our land, we have been forced to assimilate and we have been recognized by the The United Nations as being affected by the genocide of united states of america. “

“Can you see how, as native people, we are treated in our own community by white men in costume? She added, to the applause of the audience.

Sloper’s comments also drew criticism on social media, where a campaign was launched to stage a “Loud Local Minority Silent Protest” in the council chamber on February 22.

Board Member Mike Molina

February 15 was a day of disagreement among the present community, and on February 22, council members will have to revisit these divisions as they vote for this round of nominations. As we approach the end of one of the confirmation hearings of the GET committee, Board Member Mike Molina shared words that sound particularly poignant in times of division like these.

“How do we interpret the people or the County of Maui, when you hear things where people say, ‘We have to do this for the people,'” posed Molina. “Well, you must be wondering, what people are we talking about? Are we talking about the whole, the whole of Maui County, or are we just talking about a subsection of our community? This is a question that will constantly be trying to be interpreted. It is not easy.”

It is not an easy question, indeed. But at times like these, the question of who “We the people” are and who is represented is more important than ever.

Photos by JD Kim and David Goode Courtesy of County Maui



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