Lahaina Injection Well Case Update

by Jenny Roberts

Thank you to everyone who helped us convince the Maui County Council to settle the Lahaina Injection Wells Lawsuit. This lawsuit was filed by the Surfrider Foundation, EarthJustice and our coalition partners to compel Maui County to stop polluting the ocean with discharges of partially treated sewage. Although the courts have agreed with us twice now, Maui County appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, threatening national clean water protections.

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The September 20, 2019 Council decision to settle this case at home should have been the end of the fight for clean water in West Maui, but it is not over yet. Corporation Counsel (the attorneys of the County) refuse to submit the Maui Council decision to the Supreme Court unless Mayor Victorino approves it. 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.

You can still help!

This Friday, October 18th, the County Council will consider a resolution to hire an independent attorney to represent the Council in the ongoing county “charter crisis” over whether Corporation Counsel and the Mayor can stonewall the Council’s decision to settle. Let’s show support for our council members who already decided to settle this case, and tell the remaining council members that the only way to achieve a fair resolution to this dispute is for the Council to have its own, independent lawyer. Show up to the County Building at 9am to let the council members know we support their decision to settle, and to insist on a fair process for sorting out the County government’s crisis.

Join us on Friday, October 18th on the 8th floor of 200 South High Street at 9 AM.

Here’s more ways 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: county.clerk@mauicounty.us

2)      Call and/or email your Councilmembers, and show your support for the resolution.  Councilmember 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 4-member minority know that a fair solution can only be achieved if the County Council has its own, independent attorney.

You can also help move the resolution of the case forward by letting Mayor Victorino know you want him to tell Corporation Counsel to do their job and withdraw the case from the Supreme Court:

http://bit.ly/mayor-settle

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