After Stumbling on a website by the UH Ham Club referring to Kalawao as the Mythical Fifth County I did a bit of internet surfing to see what did exits. Actually the address above now includes an e-mail I sent on Kalawao County.(much of which is included below).
First a bit of history is in order. The fifth county did exit by all acounts at one point in time. Called Kalawao County, Hawaii's fifth county included the peninsula of Kalaupapa on the north side of the island of Molokai and a portion of the steep cliff overlooking this area, and even some of the land at the top of the cliffs.
This area was set aside very early on, in the 1880's, as a colony for sufferers of Hansen's Disease, Leprosy. It is where Father Damien (now Blessed Damien) worked. It was the administred as a separate County by the Department of Health. It had special status from its creation.
But times change, and many of the functions of the county, which had been reserved to the state for Kalawao came under the jurisdiction of Maui county. So much so that the county is sometimes referred to as the mythical fifth county. But the situation is still not clear. What I found was that Kalawao has special arrangements from the very beginning. The other four counties were set up as true counties. The Department of Health ran Kalawao county with the only officer being the sheriff.
I couldn't find anything that directly confirmed that Kalawao was not still a county. I tried to find information that indicated that the people of Kalawao voted in the Maui elections, but the info was not clear enough with the geography to make any conclusions. It was clear that Kalawao does not have most of the powers of the other four counties.
What I did find is that the biggest problem causing confusion may be the terminology the state uses. I came across three distinct references that show that in spite of whatever it's special situation, the state still calls Kalawao a county.
So I ended up with a bottom line that in most of its functions Kalawao is not like the other counties, but that the state still insists on calling it a county - that might be for lack of an alternative terminology. With that problem, it is hard to "hey this is not a county" when the state still insists on calling it a county in it's documents.