Here on quiet Maui, that same type exercise is also playing out. But instead of taking to the barricades, we have an organized, civil process to review how our county governance—the one closest to the people—is working and how to fix problems our community identifies. This process is called the county Charter Review Commission and happens every ten years. The commission is a panel of 11 citizens nominated by the mayor and approved by the County Council to meet with the public, to study the issues raised, and propose amendments to our structure of government as established by our County Charter.
The charter is the organic document of the county, something like a county constitution. It establishes the rules that the county operates from. It sets up how we elect our leaders, how we write our budgets, it establishes the county departments and what they are supposed to do, and it establishes that there will be public audit—done by the voters—every ten years of this structure.
This is the most important point. The commission only proposes changes. You, the voter, will determine whether the commission’s proposed amendments get adopted or not. The key step in that process is that the commission be given good input on what the public wants to happen, to what needs to change. To get a read on that, the commission is holding hearings throughout the county at the beginning of its process to hear what the community is thinking.
The last of this round of those hearings will be held at the Kīhei Community Center on Monday, July 25, at 6:30 p.m. When the commission comes back at the end of the year, it will be bringing proposals with it to get your opinion about them. But if you want to get in on the front end of this process, the Monday hearing is a great place to start.
Why should you be concerned about how this document is written? I guess that depends on whether you think everything is fine with the county government. If you have issues, let’s talk.