Commissioner Nomination Contested
The Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC) has one open seat and it could be filled by early June by Oliver “DeGray” Vanderbilt. But his nomination by Mayor Alan Arakawa has been under review for the past two weeks after several Molokai community members have questioned his residency status.
Arakawa nominated Vanderbilt in April to fill the seat previously filled by Napua Leong, who resigned from the commission in December 2010. The commission has a maximum of nine seats, and eight out of them have been filled. Vanderbilt already served on the MoPC from 2003-2008, and was chairman his last year.
“Whenever we are trying to put people on boards and commissions, we want people who are interested in putting time and energy in studying the issues,” Arakawa said. “He has done that.”
However, some residents wrote letters to the Maui County Council Policy Committee stating that Vanderbilt is not a legal resident of Molokai and expressing objection to his nomination.
Vanderbilt provided the council documentation that he is a resident at Wavecrest Resort on Molokai’s east end, and a registered voter on Molokai since 1984.
But his residency status is not the only concern voiced by some community members.
Molokai resident Dr. John Corboy stated in a letter to the committee that, “Mr. Vanderbilt has clearly demonstrated an anti-job, anti-visitor bias that is at odds with Molokai’s needs.”
Lisa Foster, a Molokai real estate agent, wrote in her letter of opposition that “Vanderbilt has on more than one occasion displayed volatile behavior that has resulted in physical altercations, which demonstrates questionable judgment,” the letter said.
Corboy and Foster had no comment when contacted about their letters.
But others in the Molokai community approve of Vanderbilt’s nomination.
“I have no objection to Vanderbilt sitting on the Planning Commission,” said David Mikami, owner of Molokai Drugs.
Zessica Apiki, who served on the County Grants Review Committee for five years, also served on Molokai’s General Planning Advisory Committee (GPAC) with Vanderbilt.
“Mr. Vanderbilt took his appointment seriously,” Apiki said in a letter to the policy committee. “He attended all of the meetings, and more importantly, was an active participant in the planning discussions. I believe that Mr. Vanderbilt’s opinions are reflective of some people who live on Molokai – who are less vocal, and less inclined to write a letter, or to speak at a county meeting.”
Vanderbilt said that he wants to be helpful again to the Molokai community. He has not served on the MoPC since 2008.
“I have always been an advocate of getting as much information as I can out to people,” Vanderbilt said.
If the Policy Committee does not make a decision by June 4 in opposition to his nomination, Vanderbilt will automatically be approved and he will take a seat on the MoPC.
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