October 18, 2017 7 min to read
Mike White Misleads Maui Public in Desperate Attempt to Acquire Control of County Council
Publication : The Huffington Post
Facing a political hailstorm in response to naming himself the powerful Chairman of Maui’s County Council through an illegally rigged secret pre-election, Mike White yesterday issued a statement on the Council’s public website defending his actions.
White’s response doubles down on his dishonesty. He is now using the taxpayer funded website to both deflect public attention away from about the core focus of the legal charges that may result in his impeachment, while at the same time deceiving the public about legal approval that he says, without documentation to substantiate it, that County Counsel provided him with to cover his misdeeds.
Meanwhile, new attention is being focused on White’s shocking “Christmas week massacre.” Three days before Christmas, with no notice or even the proper authority to act, White terminated the many years of unblemished service of three of the four senior staffers who comprise Maui County’s County services office.
In a scathing article exposing the firings titled, “Maui County Council Chair Mike White declares war on the Office of Council Services,” Maui Time reported that it had attained White’s two page memo justifying the sudden terminations, and found White’s reasons to be, “both vague and disingenuous.”
Critics, including veteran activist Mark Sheehan, believe that the firings of the administrative staffers, two of whom are attorneys, was liklely related to their refusal to endorse or provide an opinion condoning White’s pre-election rigging of the Council positions of Chair, Vice Chair and Committee heads.
Sheehan has begun an impeachment action that may result in the removal from office of both Mike White and Bob Carroll, the council Member who White illegally traded a rigged advance vote with, in return for the reward of the Vice Chair position and another Committee Chair role.
Sheehan and others are calling for Maui’s citizens to show up on January 2 in Maui county’s hearing room at 2 p.m.) and speak out during public comment about the urgent need for Council members to uphold the County Charter. After the pledge of allegiance and listening to public testimony, the very first order of business of the new two year term of the Council is a resolution essentially confirming White’s seven week old rigged pre-election to become council Chair.
As I reported here a few days ago, the Maui County Charter (section 3.5 here) states that the vote for the Council Chair must be determined during a public election by all new Council members on January 2.
On November 11, a full seven weeks before the legally mandated election for chair, vice chair and committee heads, Mike White circumvented county law by announcing, in thispress release on the Council’s website, that he would “continue to serve as chair of the Maui County Council and Robert Carroll will serve as vice-chair during the 2017-2019 Council term, which begins January 2.”
In his response to election rigging charges, White today wrote on the Council website: “Neither they nor I have done anything illegal, unethical or out of the ordinary for the process of informally organizing the council prior to the formal vote that takes place on January 2nd.”
White’s characterization of his formal November 11 announcement on the Maui County Council’s public website about who was to be the next County Chair as “informally organizing” was a desperate distortion of the what had happened.
A resolution to certify a predetermined outcome, especially one publicly announced seven weeks in advance by the very person being named the new Chair, is not by any objective legal assessment an “election.”
Another resolution scheduled for Monday’s important meeting names White’s allies on the Council as chairs of all of the county’s most powerful positions, cutting out the voice of two popular Council members who received far more votes on November 8 than either Mike White, or any of the allies he is naming to head the most powerful committees in the Council.
White orchestrated his power coup immediately after the election by gathering four votes from other Council members and offering political bribes to those who promised to support him. Like the identity of his corporate backers, Mike White’s backroom power grab left no fingerprints; no written record of what was said, or promised, to whom.
Anthony Pignatro, one of Maui’s leading investigative reporters, wrote in this scathing Maui Time critique on December 30, “White’s thirst for power remains unquenched. Indeed, the agenda for the Council’s upcoming Jan. 2 meeting–the first that will include newly elected Councilmembers Alika Atay, Kelly King and Yuki Lei Sugimura–shows that he’s already crowned himself Chair for another two years.”