After denying county officials, including Mayor Alan Arakawa, the floor to speak at Tuesday morning's committee meeting, Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Mike White could face impeachment.
But most likely not, officials said.
The county Department of Parks and Recreation had assigned its newly appointed deputy director, Brianne Savage, to present the budget that morning, county spokesman Rod Antone said. White would not allow the deputy to present without the director, Glenn Correa, saying that in light of the department head's 15 percent salary increase approved in February, Correa should present the budget and answer questions. (Beginning July 1, Correa's pay will go from $99,800 to $114,770 per year.)
Correa was present in the council chambers. It is customary for directors to present their department's budget.
Arakawa, who has been working closely with the Parks and Recreation Department for the past six months, then offered to speak on behalf of Correa, but White would not allow it, according to Antone. The mayor then opted to speak from the same lectern that the public uses to provide testimony, limited to three minutes.
"I find it unusual that I have to be testifying here instead of sitting up front and representing the administration," Arakawa said tersely. "However, the chair has asked that I not sit up front."
At the end of his three minutes, in which he presented on as much of the Parks and Recreation budget as he could, Arakawa cited the Maui County Charter clause that denies council members the right to "give orders to any county employees or county officers."
The charter reads: "Neither the council nor its members shall give orders to any county employees or county officers other than those appointed pursuant to Section 3-7 or Article 5, either publicly or privately. Any willful violation of the provisions of this subsection by a member of the council shall be sufficient grounds for the council member's removal from office by impeachment."
(Section 3-7 covers the powers of the County Council, and Article 5 pertains to the Office of the County Clerk, which is under the council's direction and oversight.)
So technically, White could be up for impeachment, though the prospects of that are highly unlikely, Antone said.
"The mayor's worked very hard to have a good working relationship with the council; this is not something that is going to all of a sudden change things," he said. "You can't agree all the time."
Ultimately, Antone said, it was just "a slight hiccup" in an otherwise average day.
The committee chairman had no comments to offer, according to a spokesman from his office.
The meeting was recessed until 11 a.m. to give Correa enough time to get up to speed with the department's budget. When the meeting resumed, both Correa and Savage presented in front of the committee.
* Eileen Chao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.