West Maui residents sue Chair Dawn Chang over Transfer of Deputy
(TRANSLATION: The ‘reassignment’ of Manuel was purposefully defective in order to allow for it to be reversed by litigation such as this. As planned from the beginning, this suit is intended to become the excuse to reinstate Manuel to his position, thus absolving Chang of blame.)
BONUS VIDEO: DLNR chair praises reassigned water deputy amid investigation into water management
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 21, 2023
Lahaina -- West Maui kamaʻāina Kekai Keahi and Jen Kamaho'i Mather filed suit today in First Circuit Court against Dawn N.S. Chang, BLNR and Water Commission chair and the Water Commission for actions Chang purported to take transferring Water Commission Deputy Kaleo Manuel out of the Commission on August 16, 2023.
State law provides that the Water Commission is the only entity empowered to take personnel actions on the Deputy and that those actions must occur during an open meeting. Failure to allow the community notice and opportunity to testify at an open meeting about those proposed decisions is a violation of the Sunshine Law.
If the Commission were to delegate authority over the deputy to the Chairperson, that delegation would also have to occur at an open meeting. No such meeting has occurred.
Keahi and Mather are asking that the transfer decision be voided and that the Court instruct the Water Commission that it must comply with the Sunshine Law before taking any such action in the future -- regarding transfer or delegating that authority to the chair.
"The West Maui community needs stability and consistency right now in the midst of disaster relief efforts. Knee-jerk edicts issued behind closed doors in Honolulu sow confusion and discord and distract us from our greater purpose," said the Plaintiffs' attorney Lance D. Collins.
Keahi and Mather are also represented by Bianca Isaki and Ryan D. Hurley.
Keahi and Mather are both actively engaged in relief efforts in West Maui daily and request that all media inquiries be directed to their attorneys.
KITV: In response to the lawsuit, the Department of the Attorney General told KITV4, “We have reviewed the complaint and find it wholly without merit. A simple review of the statutes cited in the complaint itself demonstrates that it is the chairperson who appoints her own deputy - a position which is called in law ‘deputy to the chairperson.’ We look forward to presenting a motion to dismiss.”