Accusations of Bribe-Taking in Maui’s Planning Department

In June, long-time west-side resident Kanamu Balinbin testified at some personal risk to the County Council about his direct knowledge of bribes taken by certain staff members of Maui’s Planning Department, possibly with regard to Greg Brown’s Monster Hotel.

Mr. Balinbin offered to name names. Is the following a result of that testimony?

In September, Whistleblower Christopher Salem requested the source of the oft-stated, yet inaccurate opinion expressed by Planning Department officials in public testimony over Greg Brown’s monster house that: “For the NBCID (Napili Bay Civic Improvement District), there is no stated maximum height in feet…just “two stories”.

Mr. Salem asserts that the more restrictive, established Count Code applies island-wide. The Code clearly sets the maximum height for all single-family residences at 30 feet and for Hotels 45 feet, and that, either way, Mr. Brown’s structure is a violation.

The apparent false determination has been officially attributed to the Administrator, Zoning Administration and Enforcement Division, Department of Planning, who just recently, suddenly resigned.

Has yet another County official made a false public statement that explicitly benefits favored developers and their lawyers (former Corp Counsel employees), and is the County now engaged in yet another coverup?

Maui Causes will be airing new shows soon that offer solutions to the loopholes and administrative failures that allow this kind of abuse to happen. Stay Tuned.

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Here’s the County’s transcript of Mr. Balinbin’s testimony:
Council of the County of Maui
June 29, 2021
– 17 –
MR. BALINBIN: Aloha. My name is Kanamu Balinbin, and I represent, I guess, the Upper
West Maui community. I want to thank you for allowing me to testify today. There’s a
lot of frustrations with the community over this project and the way it was handled.
You know, my…there’s so many questions, but it…it kind of was brought up by Junya,
the other lady, and the previous testifier. So what…what I want to…what I want to come
across is, is that when…for me, when I was working construction, we would always have
somebody come and make sure that we’re following our plans, an inspector would come
in at least once a week. I don’t see why nobody came and…and checked this project.
That’s…that’s kind of strange to me. I’ve…I’ve talked to other developers saying yeah,
you know, inspectors come, they’re here…they’re here like on a weekly basis, but why
hasn’t anybody gone to that particular project to inspect it to see if it was doing what it
said it would do in the permits? Another thing is, you know, my…my friend
Danny (phonetic) lives right below that…that project. And the…the…the retaining wall
that’s supposedly there, he saw it being dug and it was only like two or three feet deep.
And he’s afraid that that wall is going to come crashing down on his…on his property.
Council of the County of Maui
June 29, 2021
– 18 –
You know, for…for a lot of us West Maui residents, we’re really frustrated because we
don’t…we don’t feel like we get our fair share of the pie when it comes to developments,
affordable housing, just things in general. A community…a community center, you
know, we’re frustrated here. And with the lack of, I guess, due diligence on the people
in charge, it’s…it’s compounding this…compounding this frustration that we have. So
I would…I…for…for me, I would just like…you know, I…you know, there’s so much
things that I want to say. I…I…I going to be honest, I was…when I worked construction,
I…I…I dropped envelopes of cash with…with…with things that I needed to drop off to
the Planning Department. I don’t know who it went to or what it was…what was
doing…what it was…what was being dealt with the cash that I sent there, but
there’s…there’s…there’s a payoff plan going on there. And if you people are…if people
are not going to…are…investigate this or have an audit on the Planning Department and
what’s going on, on O‘ahu, then we’re just going to keep getting into these messes. So
thank you very much. Aloha.
CHAIR MOLINA: Okay. Mahalo for your testimony, Mr. Balinbin. Members, any need to clarify
Mr. Balinbin’s testimony? Seeing none. Mahalo for your testimony, Mr. Balinbin.
MS. ESPELETA: Mr. Chair —
MR. BALINBIN: You’re welcome.
MS. ESPELETA: — would it be possible to clarify that testifier’s first name and spelling please.
CHAIR MOLINA: Oh, yes. Mister…Mr. Balinbin, can you state your full name for the record
again and spelling of it? Just to make sure we have it correct for the record.
MR. BALINBIN: Oh, Kanamu, K-A-N-A-M-U, last name Balinbin, B-A-L-I-N-B-I-N.
CHAIR MOLINA: Okay. All right. Thank you, Mr. Balinbin.
MR. BALINBIN: Thank you, Mike. (audio interference)
CHAIR MOLINA: Okay. Hang on…Mr. Balinbin, hang on, yeah? I have a couple of —
MR. BALINBIN: Yeah, go ahead.
CHAIR MOLINA: — Members with questions.
MR. BALINBIN: Go ahead.
CHAIR MOLINA: Member Paltin, followed by Member Sugimura.
Council of the County of Maui
June 29, 2021
– 19 –
COUNCILMEMBER PALTIN: Thank you, Chair. Thank you, Mr. Balinbin. I just wanted to
clarify, are you saying that you participated in bribing the Planning Department to get
MR. BALINBIN: No, what I’m saying is like…well, when I worked construction back in the…I’d
say late…late 1999s, I…I’ve worked…I’ve worked…you know, I not going name…I’m not
going to name the people that…that I worked for, but it was…it was…it was pretty…there
was like three or four different companies that we would kind of…but we…we…I…I…I
dropped…I’ve dropped off money over there on…on couple occasions, several occasions.
I’ve had…I…I…I sat on…I sat in on a member from the Planning Department when my
friend had fines…fines at his property in Huelo. He sat down with one of the ladies from
Planning and she offered…she said, I can make your fines go away if you want to help
me pay my credit card debts, things like that. And there was an investigation…there
was an investigation. It was Arakawa’s…it was during one of Arakawa’s terms, and it
was investigated.
CHAIR MOLINA: Mr. Balinbin, I think you answered Member Paltin’s question. Member Paltin,
do you have…is there need to clarify Mr. Balinbin’s question [sic]?
MR. BALINBIN: . . .(inaudible). . . I’ve done it before . . .(inaudible). . .
COUNCILMEMBER PALTIN: One last clarification was, is this a civil service you’re talking
about, civil service employee or appointed?
MR. BALINBIN: For the Planning Department. I not going mention names. I can tell you
names later, Tamara, if you like call me up, and the specific name that…that…that had
bribed…had offered my friend to…to take away his fines if…if she got help, say, with her
credit card bills. It…it’s…I…I…I seen things like this happen before, and it seems like
it’s…it’s more rampant now. I…I…you know, it…I…I…I don’t know things can get
approved and then later get turned over by the Supreme Court. It’s frustrating for us
because…because we have no…we have no really…you know, we’re waiting for
Pulelehua, we’re waiting for something so…so we can get by with…it’s hard for us here
on the West Side. You know we’re dealing with all these…
CHAIR MOLINA: Mr. Balinbin, thank you. I think you answered. Member Paltin, do you have
another clarification question for Mr. Balinbin before I go to Member Sugimura?
CHAIR MOLINA: Oh, okay. Mr. Balinbin, just real quick question for you. So —
CHAIR MOLINA: — are you saying the…there was any, I guess, alleged bribery related to this
project? Just to clarify your testimony. Was it just another…
Council of the County of Maui
June 29, 2021
– 20 –
MR. BALINBIN: I’m not…I’m not…I’m not saying that there is. There’s…there’s talk about it.
I…I don’t know firsthand knowledge. I’ve heard…I’ve heard that…that…you know, Mike,
some of the things I no like…I no like mention names —
MR. BALINBIN: — but if…if I can call your office and I can tell you some things then —
MR. BALINBIN: — I…I feel more comfortable that way. I no like throw anybody under the bus.
CHAIR MOLINA: No. Okay. Yeah.
MR. BALINBIN: . . .(inaudible). . .
CHAIR MOLINA: Okay. I just want to make sure that…that it ties into the project or the
agenda item that we have here today with your…your statements, yeah.
MR. BALINBIN: The one thing I’m worried about the project because everything was answered
was that retaining wall by my —
MR. BALINBIN: — friend Danny’s house that he just built —
MR. BALINBIN: — he built his —
MR. BALINBIN: — dream house. And the retaining wall that he…he…he swears by that it’s
not at the proper depth, and that wall could come crashing down at any big rain or
anything like that, that we have in Nāpili in…or that Upper West Side. It can happen,
you know, and…and…
CHAIR MOLINA: Okay. All right. Thank you, Mr. Balinbin. I have a question for you from
Member Sugimura. Member Sugimura, question for Mr. Balinbin?
COUNCILMEMBER SUGIMURA: Thank you. Hi, Kanamu. I was just going to ask the same
question that Tamara was…got clarification on, so —
Council of the County of Maui
June 29, 2021
– 21 –
COUNCILMEMBER SUGIMURA: — thank you. I have no further questions.
MR. BALINBIN: Okay. I believe…I believe that person is still working in the office, so if you
guys…if…if…if Mike or…or whoever is the head of this . . .(inaudible). . . thing,
if…if…I…I…I…I’m not afraid to…to…to mention names face to face, but not over this —
MR. BALINBIN: — because…you know.
CHAIR MOLINA: Thank you, Mr. Balinbin. I appreciate your thoughts.
MR. BALINBIN: Okay. Thanks. Thanks.
CHAIR MOLINA: Okay. Members, any further clarification or questions for Mr. Balinbin before
we let him go? Okay. Seeing none. Mahalo for your testimony, Mr. Balinbin.
MR. BALINBIN: (audio interference)
CHAIR MOLINA: Thank you. Okay. Ms. Espeleta —
MR. BALINBIN: Thank you.

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