Lawsuit filed against Council Member Elle Cochran and County Attorneys
Public officials accused of breaching their duties, to the financial benefit of private developers, at the public's expense
News Release from Eric Poulsen, October 16, 2018
On October 5th, 2018, Maui County Resident Eric Poulsen filed a Complaint in the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit. The lawsuit accuses Council Member Elle Cochran and two attorneys from the Department of The Corporation Counsel of negligently, and grossly negligently, amending Title 18 of the County Code. The lawsuit also accuses Council Member Cochran of breaking her promise to perform her duty to mitigate further harm to the residents and taxpayers.
As the Chair of the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee for the Maui County Council, Elle Cochran is being accused of allowing an Upcountry Water Ordinance to unlawfully grant exemptions for roadway frontage improvements, to developers island wide.
After years of publicly pleading with West Maui Council representative Elle Cochran to perform her duty as the Chair of Infrastructure to hold private developers accountable to thousands of previously unaccounted for infrastructure agreements executed by County attorneys with private developers, West Maui resident Eric Poulsen learned in early 2018 that Council Member Elle Cochran had voted to add an additional burden on the taxpayers through a deceptive County infrastructure ordinance adopted in the Water Resources Committee.
Poulsen asserts in the suit that Council Member Elle Cochran acknowledged that she neglected to read the final drafts of the legislation she voted on in 2015, and that island wide developer infrastructure exemptions were never the intent of the legislation being proposed and noticed as being solely for property owners on the Upcountry Water List.
Poulsen also asserts that when they he informed Council Member Cochran’s Office of the deceptive ordinance, Elle Cochran’s staff admitted their negligence and subsequently promised to draft legislation to repeal the ordinance “that day”. That day was in March of 2018. Council Member Cochran failed to keep her promise and take effective action. She was also alleged to have been noticed as early as 2016 as well.
Consequently, to prevent further harm to the taxpayers through additional island wide approvals of subdivisions by the Department of Public Works, Maui County resident Eric Poulsen reluctantly filed a suit to stop the unlawful practice.
Poulsen also asserts that changing of the ordinance to benefit of private developers, at the expense of the residents, was never publicly noticed as required under the State of Hawai’i Sunshine Laws, and, that it violated adopted Council Rules.
Poulsen asserts that both Council Member Elle Cochran and the two government attorneys from Corporation Counsel have incurred financial obligations on the County in violation of the Charter and are subject to being removed from Office under Section 9-12 of the Maui County Charter.
The suit includes five counts of negligence and, or gross negligence; one count of a violation of Section 9-12 of the County Charter, and one count of breach of promissory estoppel to Eric Poulsen.
The suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief including voiding the ordinance.
Related: Lawsuit Challenges Constitutionality of Laws Written by 'Gut n Replace' Method
Lahaina News July, 2018: Audit will reveal Cochran's record
Elle Cochran August, 2018: Subdivision improvement exemptions and county audit of deferral agreements