Coconut Wireless: This Week in Review

Maui Time, June 28, 2007

By Anthony Pignataro

This week I really have to salute Maui County Deputy Planning Director Colleen M. Suyama. It’s rare to see a county official—especially one making $92,300 a year—screw up so badly in public that the state Office of Information Practices (OIP) gets to slap him or her across the wrist. Suyama’s little act of impropriety occurred way back on March 13 of this year, during a Maui Planning Commission hearing. According to the five-page OIP opinion issued yesterday, during the hearing Suyama “violated the Sunshine Law” by restricting the testimony of Sharyn Matin, a private citizen and president of the West Maui Preservation Association (WMPA).

The commission had asked Matin to testify about the group’s funds. In the spirit of public discourse, Suyama constantly interrupted Matin during her testimony. Though the OIP very generously concluded that Suyama’s violation was “not intentional,” they did say that the agenda item Matin was discussing was so poorly written and vague that Suyama should have just kept her trap shut and let Matin talk. The OIP also refused to address the issue of Suyama’s demeanor—”which WMPA argues was inappropriately badgering and berating in tone and constituted a tirade,” according to the opinion—concluding that her tone “was at most testy.”

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