While International Women’s Day Started in Maui County Council Chambers With morning affirmations of the importance of gender equality and women in positions of power, the late-night events proved that disrupting patriarchy is not just a day’s work. At 12:15 am on March 9 Maui Countybest civil lawyer, Legal advisor to the company Patrick Wong was arrested and charged by the Maui Police Department for physical abuse of a household member, later confirmed to be Wong’s girlfriend. MPD logs show that emergency medical services were called for injuries sustained in the incident and that Wong was released on $ 1,000 bail.
A few hours after the first report of the incident broadcast on Hawaii News Now (who identified the victim only as “her” and said she feared reprisals from Wong due to her powerful position in the county), Mayor Mike Victorino released a statement that Wong had been put on administrative leave. After repeated requests for clarification, the mayor Communications office confirmed on March 12 that Wong’s leave is paid and with benefits.
“I have zero tolerance for domestic violence,” Victorino said in another statement released Monday. “Nevertheless, our judicial system guarantees due process. An accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
In the statement, Victorino identified Senior Deputy Legal Counsel of the Edward Kushi Company as interim manager of Lawyer of the Department of Companies. Several inquiries made to the Mayor’s communications office by MauiTime regarding the length of Kushi’s acting role, the hiring of new staff to deal with the staff shortage, and the factors that will be considered in the removal or reinstatement de Wong remained unanswered at the time of publication.
Wong, a candidate for Mayor Victorino, was recently approved by the council in a 5: 4 vote to continue serving as counsel for the company, a position he has held since his first appointment. in 2011. The arrest sheds new light on some of the testimony. received during his contentious confirmation process, in which Wong was accused of abuse of power, losing his temper and intimidation.
“Several of us board members had these concerns,” said Chairman of the Board Kelly King, who voted to disapprove of Wong in the confirmation hearings. “Not necessarily about domestic violence against a partner, but about bullying and potential retaliation, and whether there was fairness in her office.”
King added that she knew Wong had not yet been convicted of a crime, but maintained that being arrested “is no small feat.” When asked if paid leave is an appropriate consequence for someone accused of a violent crime, however, King said “this is how you do things when you don’t have a conviction.” In some cases, she explained, paid administrative leave has served to protect wrongfully accused while under investigation.
On the contrary, “we need a culture change in Maui,” she said. “We still think like a small town community but we have issues with the big cities… We have everything that afflicts the big cities and we still operate in a culture of cronyism and nepotism, rather than watching how we are going to respond. to the needs of residents with real professionals.
Regarding the issue of men in positions of power abusing power, which has developed into national social consciousness over the past year with the #Me too movement, King said that “one of the things that is needed is gender balance. Not just in our elected positions, but also in our appointed positions. You haven’t seen much of a gender balance in that first round of nominations. There are two women and the rest were men.
“I think that’s one of the things that has to happen for there to be a greater shift in power, not just in politics, but in administration.”
In the short term, however, King said she hopes a full investigation will be carried out and all the facts provided, given Wong’s position as the company’s attorney and county legal counsel.
King added that she overheard her colleagues suggest that Wong should resign. “Given these allegations, I think this is something he should really think about. The mayor should think about it seriously: how can we [Wong] become the director again and there are no big doubts?
Update 3/14: Following MauiTime’s request on Saturday, the Maui Police Department provided Wong’s booking photo, pictured below.