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Battling Politicos: Molina Demands Apology from Victorino

The sun is barely up on Friday morning and the normally affable Mike Molina is “steamed, still plenty steamed.”

The object of his displeasure is Maui Mayor Mike Victorino, who Molina says “Has an ego the size of Haleakala.”

Molina, the council member who represents Makawao, Haiku, and Paia and chairs the important GET committee, doesn’t mince any words, he didn’t like the way Victorino spoke to him, “but what is worse he was insulting to my staff.”

Molina wants an apology and preferably soon.

The cause for his anger was a meeting on Thursday, May 9th on the proposed Paia Courtyard held in the mayor’s office, a meeting that from Molina’s description, did not go well.

He and his assistant Gary Saldana went to meet with Victorino and members of the administration including Michele McLean, Director Planning, Mark Takamori – Director of Transportation, and Guy Hironaka – an employee of the Finance Department who deals with real estate acquisition and others.

Molina said that he had no sooner entered the office than Victorino addressed him in a “disrespectful tone of voice,” claiming that multiple calls to the council member’s office has not been returned and carrying on in what he felt was a “bullying” manner. He also stated that Victorino was “insulting” to his staffer Saldana.

“I have never been treated so rudely by any mayor.”

When he got back from the encounter he was still “steamed” enough to instruct Saldana to draft a letter to the mayor calling him out on his behavior. “I decided to demand an apology,” Molina said.

Molina also referred to Victorino’s frequent promise during the campaign that if elected he would “work collaboratively” with the council and the public to conduct the people’s business. In Molina’s view that was just an “empty campaign promise,” once Victorino was in office, Molina said, “Forget about collaboration, the mayor thinks he’s the boss. What the hell is going on? He’s got an ego the size of Haleakala.”

MAUIWatch has not yet received a response from the mayor’s office requesting comment and inquiring if an apology would be forthcoming.

Turns out that Molina is not the only one to have a less than fruitful encounter with the new occupant of the 9th floor. According to Stan Franco, a longtime advocate for affordable housing and a spokesperson for homeless concerns, a recent meeting he and six other community activists had with Victorino on housing concerns was conducted along similar lines.

According to Franco who spoke to MAUIWatch by phone this morning, “Victorino dominated the conversation … We came in wanting to share our ideas on housing … but the mayor made it clear he wasn’t interested in what we had to say. He told people he was the one that would be dictating what the program would be. ….“We were there to help, but he didn’t want to hear from us.”

Here is full text of Molina’s letter to Victorino

From: Mike J. Molina

Sent: Thursday, May 9, 2019 4:45 PM

To: Mayors.Office

Cc: Michele McLean; Marc Takamori; David Spee; Guy Hironaka; Tyson Miyake ; Henry Spencer; Saumalu Mataafa; Gary Saldana

Subject: Meeting relating to Paia Courtyard project

Mr. Mayor,

I am upset and disappointed in your comments this afternoon as it relates to my staff not being available to answer calls from your staff.  I believe your comments were unprofessional, rude and mean spirited, especially in a meeting setting.

For you to scold me in front of the public and department heads was unnecessary.  If you have concerns about how my office functions, it should not be discussed in a forum where members of the general public are attending.  I welcome your comments in a more appropriate setting. Additionally, after you left attendees noted your behavior.

Accordingly, I respectfully request that you apologize to me and my staff and the individuals in attendance at the meeting for your comments.  


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About Susan Halas

Susan Halas is a Senior Political Contributor at MAUIWatch. She has followed Hawaii politics since 1976 when she moved to the Valley Isle. She was formerly a staff writer for the Maui News as well as other local print and digital publications.

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