On September 20, the County Council approved a resolution to settle Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, et al. v. County of Maui, which is currently scheduled for oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on November 6. Maui County uses the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility (LWRF) to dispose of millions of gallons of treated wastewater daily into injection wells. The polluted water flows underground into the Pacific Ocean, killing the reef. The County’s position that this pollution cannot be regulated under the Clean Water Act is supported by the Trump Administration and a host of the nation’s dirtiest industries.
Now that the Council has decided to end the case, Corporation Counsel refuses to execute the settlement and withdraw the appeal, claiming that only the mayor has the authority to settle the case. This is a violation of Corporation Counsel’s responsibilities towards the Council, which is a client. Section 2.2 of the Maui County Charter says in the section titled “Exercise of Powers” that “if the Charter makes no provisions” then powers of the county shall be carried out “by ordinance or resolution of the County Council.” In this case, since the Charter doesn’t expressly give power to the executive branch to control the litigation, the County Council is able to do so via resolution. Because of this disagreement, Council Chair Kelly King is asking that the Council vote to approve a resolution authorizing the Council to hire its own attorney to resolve this “crisis of the charter.”
CALL TO ACTION
The County Council needs your support on Friday morning. Come help the remaining Councilmembers see that the only way to achieve a fair resolution to this dispute is for the Council to have its own, independent lawyer. Corporation Counsel, the office that is mandated to represent the County as a whole, has sided unequivocally with the Trump Administration and a nationwide class of industrial polluters in insisting that this appeal go forward. The people of Maui have spoken through their public testimony and their elected representatives, and their voice is being silenced.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP
1) Submit written testimony urging the Council to approve the hiring of independent counsel. In the subject line, reference “CC 19-420.” Testimony can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Call and/or email your Council members, and show your support for the resolution. Council member contact information can be found at http://mauicounty.us/councilmembers/
3) Testify in person on Friday. Get to the Council Chamber on the 8th floor of the County Building by 9 A.M. and sign up in the lobby. Let the reluctant Council members know that a fair solution can only be achieved if the County Council has its own, independent attorney.