Friday, December 5, 2014

SWEEPING NEW KAUA`I COUNCIL RULE CHANGES IMBUE RAPOZO WITH KINGLY POWERS




(PNN) In a move by new Chair Mel Rapozo that removes the rights of councilmember to introduce legislation, move bills out of committee to a final vote by the full council, initiate workshops and even cuts the amount of time allotted for them to speak on measures on the agenda by half, the new Kaua`i County Council majority rammed through wholesale changes to longstanding rules at Monday's usually inaugural meeting of the Kaua`i County Council.


The rights of the public were also severely curtailed by cutting the mandatory length for public testimony in half, removing the right to petition the council, severely restricting exchanges between councilmembers and testifiers and forcing the public to one again wait for hours to testify.


The County Charter requires adoption of the rules at the usually pro-forma first meeting which turned into a protracted, almost four hour long losing battle to protect the rights of councilmembers and the public after Rapozo attempted to sneak new rules past due consideration by the council by circulating them unformatted, without using the standard "Ramseyer" format that shows changes to legislation. That way a quick glance made those reading them think there were no changes at all.


A PNN article on Saturday which detailed a small handful of the proposed changes apparently alarmed Councilmember Gary Hooser who then "shared" the article on Facebook. That spurred an email from Rapozo sent only to those who had contacted him after seeing the article, attempting unsuccessfully to play down and in fact misrepresent the changes. That email itself was followed by a detailed point-by-point Facebook post refuting Rapozo's email from Hooser who was outraged over the not just the rules themselves but the attempt to dupe the council into adopting changes.


Among the changes is one previously unreported provision that would allow committees and their chairs to prevent the full council from taking a final vote on a bill or resolution by holding the bill in committee permanently, thus killing it.


While giving chairs this kind of power is common at the federal and state level it is rarely part of the rules for local jurisdictions. Kaua`i is the first county in Hawai`i to pass a rule like this, although Hawai`i Island briefly considered and quickly rejected a similar measure this week after their chair attempted a similar secret maneuver.


According to Roberts Rules of Order which governs parliamentary procedure, only the full body can determine the ultimate fate of any measure with a majority or more (depending on the type of measure) of the full body carrying the outcome. But under the Rule-a-la-Rapozo a "receipt for the record" or in fact any vote other than approval by a five-voting-member committee of the seven member council would cause the measure to remain in committee until the chair allows it to come up again- conceivably not at all. That would allow three votes- or even less depending on how many are in attendance for the vote- to essentially kill a bill or resolution.


The new rules also:


-Cut the time the public is given by law to testify on an agenda item from a total of six to three minutes. It would leave granting a second three minutes to the discretion of the chair, replacing the old four additional minutes under the chair's purview. It's interesting to note that when the matter came up for discussion Councilmember Kipukai Kuali`i showed how even he- a member of the new majority who was the most vocal about how it was "disrespectful" to challenge the new rules- insisted this was not true, personally attacking Hooser over his contention that it was. It took an insistence from Hooser that the record reflect the truth for Kuali`i- obviously worried enough about how his performance would look to the electorate to later apologize and claim he was not attacking Hooser personally- to acknowledge his error demonstrating definitively that he hadn't understood or possibly even read one of the most glaring changes. The "total of six minutes" rule had been in effect on Kaua`i for decades;


-Removed the right of councilmember to have proposed legislation- or any matter- placed on the council agenda within 120 days of submittal. This provision was added a couple of years back after Rapozo's stated "mentor," former Chair Kaipo Asing, abused the requirement requiring the council chair to "initial" matters in order for them to appear on the agenda. to block legislation he disfavored from ever appearing on the agenda;


-Eliminate the right of members to hold "workshops" unless the matter is on the council agenda. Workshops are used to gather facts, input from experts. members of the administration and the community to contribute to the preparation of legislation without violating the state Sunshine Law which requires six-day notice and public testimony whenever a majority of the council gathers to deal with actual or projected council business;


-Cut from 10 to five minutes the time councilmembers may speak on an agenda item without permission from the chair;


-Eliminated the right of citizens to petition the council to consider legislation;


-Eliminated a recent rule change that had allowed members of the public to testify on any single agenda item for three minutes at the very beginning of a meeting rather than having to sit around all day- sometimes into the night- in order to testify, thus forcing them to, once again, take a full day off to speak their mind rather than just an hour or so at 9 a.m.


Rapozo claimed many of the substantive changes were merely "housekeeping" measures and that all were done with intent of "expediency (and) efficiency" and as "cost saving" measures, even suggesting much of the council's proceeding- apparently including public and council input- were "a waste of time (and) money" presenting an unsubstantiated a figure of $250 an hour to record, caption and web-cast meetings.


For the record, at one point during the meeting Rapozo personally chided PNN Publisher, Editor and Chief Correspondent Andy Parx by name over what he thought he had read in PNN's first (Saturday 11/29) article on the rules. Rapozo mockingly claimed that Parx wrote that a rule regarding "intemperate" or "abusive" language was new. However a critical-reading of the paragraph shows that the reference to "new" was made regarding the section on "Public Testimony" in which the passage is contained, not the passage itself. PNN welcomes a retraction and apology from Rapozo considering how adverse he is to litigation.


The meeting began with a... ah screw this "news" format- the rest calls for a lot less "just the facts ma’am" and a lot more Rabid Reporter bombast.


The power grab by "King Louis-Mel "I am the County" XIV, The "Blotting out the Sun(shine) King" started with a "hurry up and just pass the damn rules" push during the usually pre-fake-swearing-in snooze-fest where the gaggle of governance takes the actual oath of office while the audience swears a different kind of under-their-breath-oath. That is usually punctuated by selection of the new chair, vice chair, clerk and deputy and finally pretty much the same old rules as the last term are adopted. At least that's been the case for the at least the last 25-plus years with any substantive rule changes taking place at regular meetings throughout the term.


As the clocked ticked down to the official unofficial hour assigned to re-perform the swearing-in ceremonially in the auditorium next door approached, the new council majority became panicked when it became apparent that the minority were not happy about the elimination of their and the public's rights as Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura announced she had prepared nine amendments for the most egregious of the measures to consolidate MachiaMelli's powers.


" Hurry... only a few minutes to go" shouted dumber-than-the-usual-bear Ross "Boo-Boo" Kagawa to Yogi the Chair as the clock ticked down. "Let's just pass them and be done with it" said perennial also ran, first-time-actually-elected Rapozo-sycophant Kipukai Kuali`i who seemed outraged-to-tears (if that's possible) that someone would challenge the rights of Il Douche-A, to run roughshod over the minority.


It was only when, with mere minutes to go, Yukimura shouted "Move to amend" and a split-second later Hooser said "second" that the lap-dancer-fondling chair thought better of not recognizing the motion at the almost-didn't-happen delayed-on-line-streaming of the event and they all proceeded next door for the banal fake-coronation and insipid oratories from Hizzonah and Ghengis Mel, saving the fireworks for after the show.


Despite the opposition from the majority- which includes a long-sought seat for big Kaua`i landowner Grove Farm in the form of Silver-Spoon-Fed legacy "Missing-D," Arryl Kaneshiro (whose election, many say, was due to confusion with his father, long-serving ex-Councilmember, Darryl)- Yukimura charged on with her amendments with "seconds" from Hooser and loose support from the other member of the progressive minority Mason Chock who, with Yukimura, voted for the final rules with only Hooser voting in opposition.


The worst of the worst of the really offensive "how dare you challenge The Prince" rhetoric came from Kuali`i who had gotten the votes of many progressives in the last election despite his demonstrated support for the Rapozo, Asing and former councilmember and disgraced former County Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho.


Iseri and Kuali`i were accused of colluding to throw Victim-Witness Program monies to Kualii's employer, the YWCA, with Iseri firing the V-V program employees she had just hired (causing a wrongful termination EEOC filing which the county settled) in the prosecutors office... where the program had always been housed since its inception.


This, say council-watchers guaranteed Kualii's allegiance to the Iseri/Rapozo alliance during the often bitter battles over Asing's secretive and paternalistic reign as Chair after having served nobly for years as the champion of the people in the '80's '90's and early '00's.


Of the nine amendments only one passed and that with an amendment to the amendment. But that was was perhaps the most perplexing of all because the "new" rule was the same as the old rule housed in that previously mentioned section on Public Hearings.


The council rules certainly did need some actual housekeeping measures including use of archaic language, anachronistic provisions and misogynist phrasings. But one of the most glaring had always been that there was no section regarding the rules for Public Testimony. Those rules had always been housed under "Public Hearings" which are required by charter but separate from common public testimony which is required on every agenda item at every meeting by the Hawai`i State Sunshine (open meetings) Law. The Public Hearing rules have always been treated as applying to both.


Apparently when staff pointed this out to Benito Rapozo he decided to use the opportunity to make the council train run on time.


The one and only provision that differed was that during actual Public Hearings, the council has been restricted from asking questions and having exchanges with those testifying. It had always been pretty strictly adhered to until recently when, although former Chair Jay Furfaro would often remind councilmembers of the rule, he in fact was a little lackadaisical about enforcing it.


Yet here was an amendment from Yukimura apparently seeking to allow it that during Public Hearings. Now it should be pointed out that at this juncture that although the council appeared to be working from, if not a formal Ramseyer copy of the new rules at least one that indicated changes, still neither has not been made available to the public.


And as a matter of fact one of those "housekeeping" rules made it even harder to know what the heck is going on at meetings by allowing the chair to dispense with the actual verbal reading of measures. We've tried for years to get them to read actual amendments when they're introduced- or at least before they are passed- to no avail.


Parenthetically, as a matter of fact- and we should have anticipated this- council service is traditionally about as fast as a molasses-surfing turtle when it comes to getting things posted on the county web site. Yet the new rules were posted so fast it made our head do an Exorcist and now the old rules are apparently lost to the ages.


Not so parenthetically, in some ways we were sympathetic to the impetus (if not the lack of thought) behind a few of what can only be called the new"Yukimura Rules."


There isn't one person we know who hasn't rolled their eyes and even walked out of the room asking those remaining to "let me know when she's done" after sitting through one of her interminable "thinking out loud" sessions, usually during Q&A with someone testifying. The smirks when councilmembers made veiled references to it during the debate were not as veiled as the references themselves.


So back to the actual amendment that apparently amended nothing, Yukimura's amendment seemed to seek to allow exchanges during Pubic Hearings. That would have been a change from what we remember the old rules said:


"Public hearings are held to receive testimony from the public. Councilmembers shall reserve their opinions, questions, and arguments for the appropriate Council or Committee meeting."


So after much wrangling and Yukimura's pleas that members be able to "clarify" what those speaking at Public Hearings were saying, the following was added:


";except that Councilmembers may ask clarifying questions that enable the Council to better understand the point or position of the speaker."


And THAT passed unanimously. Big whoop. It's probably the one change we would have opposed.


The afternoon session session began with His Melness attempting to run down the list of changes, often mumbling "housekeeping changes made by staff"- until it turned out they weren't- or otherwise glossing over or misrepresenting them. Then Yukimura's amendments rejected at breakneck speed, with the the Greek Chorus responding to Sophoclapozo's "I wont abuse my power" with a refrain of "No he won't abuse his power" followed by some HMS Pinafore-like


What Never?
No Never
What Never?
Well... hardly every
Hardly ever abuses Ruuuules.


Hardly ever sick at Council meetings? We suspect that for the next two year the response will be "yes always."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

RAPOZO RESPONDS; HOOSER ANSWERS RESPONSE

(PNN) Kaua`i County Council Chair-elect Mel Rapozo has written a response to the yesterday's PNN news article yesterday on his changes to the proposed Kaua`i County Council rules and Councilmember Gary Hooser has answered his response basically supporting the veracity of our news story (posted below).


PNN stands by everything in the article. It is absolutely factual, unlike many of the prevarications and fabrications from Mr Rapozo below . Mr Rapozo, in fact makes many misstatements and uses half truths to disguise his apparent motives.


In answer to part of Mr Rapozo's response (posted below a summery of Rapozo's response and Hooser's answers), starting off the new term with rule revisions that consolidate the power of the chair by making participation by the public and in fact other councilmembers discretionary on the chair's part in the name of "efficiency" would not seem to be the way to create "an environment that fosters fairness"or "a positive start to the new Council term." But Mr Rapozo has a long history of disingenuity so why should his first day as chair be any different.


--------


Here is Rapozo's "answers" and Hooser's response to them:


Mel says:


Reducing public testimony from 6 minutes to 3 minutes. Simply not true. Here is the new rule:
Rule 11(c)(6) Oral testimony shall be limited to three (3) minutes per person. The Chair shall have the prerogative to set the order of speakers, speaking for or against any proposition, and may notify the speaker of the expiration of speaking time 30 seconds before such expiration. The Chair may allow an additional three (3) minutes to provide further testimony after all persons have had an opportunity to speak.


This rule simply allows for a 2nd opportunity to speak after everyone has spoken. Currently, the public has 6 minutes up front, forcing people to have to wait to speak. If 10 people are signed up to speak, the 10th speaker has to wait 54 minutes (or longer depending on questions from councilmembers) to speak. With the new rule, the wait time will be much shorter. This rule is for the benefit of the public, not the Chair or councilmembers.


NOT TRUE: The old (existing) rule states:12E, 4F&G says: F) Person has 3 minutes to speak G) Person has a second time to speak for an additional 3 minutes, plus at the Chairs discretion an additional 4 minutes.


Summary of Rule differences
****Existing old rules- A total of 6 minutes is guaranteed plus a possible 4 more at Chair discretion ****Proposed new rules - A total of 3 minutes is guaranteed plus a possible 3 more at the Chairs discretion


**************************************************************************************************************************************************


Mel says: Rule 9(c) Placement on Agenda. All bills and resolutions must be initialed by the Council Chair or, in the Chair’s absence, the Vice Chair (or other designated chair as stated in Rule No. 3) in order to be placed on the agenda.


The existing rule was introduced by Chair Furfaro and changed the practice of the Council after many years. The current rule requires placement of all bills and resolutions, regardless of its legality, on the agenda within 120 days. This is not practical as all bills and resolutions require legal review. If a bill or resolution is deemed illegal, it should not be placed on the agenda. This rule change is not intended to "scuttle" proposed legislation, but rather to ensure that all bills and resolutions are legally sufficient. This is a standard process for all legislative branches.


THE TRUTH: This Rule means the Council Chair can "scuttle" ANY proposal whatsoever both legal and illegal. If legality were the issue the Rule could be amended so that it is no more than 120 days and must have gone through a legal review. CM's can vote anything down on first reading if they suspect the item is legally insufficient but at least there is a public discussion. Often times "legal sufficiency" is a matter of degree and interpretation. This Rule leaves 100% of the interpretation up to the Chair.


****************************************************************************************************************************************************************


Mel says: The removal of the section that allows the public to testify for 3 minutes on any item on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting.


What Mr. Parx fails to mention is that the current rule only allocates 18 minutes for this portion of the meeting. This creates an issue of unfairness because only 6 members of the public are entitled to this right. The Council, by a vote of 5 members, can suspend the rules to address special circumstances as they arise.


THE TRUTH: The old/existing Rule provides a positive way for people to testify early in the process without having to wait all day long for a specific agenda item to come up. If needed then this rule could be expanded to allow as much time as is needed so it remains fair.


**************************************************************************************************************************************
What also is not addressed is:


The new Rules require Committee Chairs to have approval of the Chair prior to holding a "Workshop" (primarily educational in nature), plus the new Rule says workshops can only be held on items that are on the agenda (also controlled by the Chair).
The old existing Rules include no such restrictions and past practice is that Committee Chairs may schedule workshops on any topic within their subject matter jurisdiction without needed the Council Chairs approval.


Gary Hooser
------
Here, in full, is Mr Rapozo's response as sent to many people via email today:


Thank you for your email. I appreciate your input but feel that I have to clarify some of the misstatements made by Andy Parx. I don't know the motive but his actions clearly do not encourage a positive start to the new Council term. I have broken down each of Andy's concerns below.


Reducing public testimony from 6 minutes to 3 minutes. Simply not true. Here is the new rule: Rule 11(c)(6) Oral testimony shall be limited to three (3) minutes per person. The Chair shall have the prerogative to set the order of speakers, speaking for or against any proposition, and may notify the speaker of the expiration of speaking time 30 seconds before such expiration. The Chair may allow an additional three (3) minutes to provide further testimony after all persons have had an opportunity to speak.


This rule simply allows for a 2nd opportunity to speak after everyone has spoken. Currently, the public has 6 minutes up front, forcing people to have to wait to speak. If 10 people are signed up to speak, the 10th speaker has to wait 54 minutes (or longer depending on questions from councilmembers) to speak. With the new rule, the wait time will be much shorter. This rule is for the benefit of the public, not the Chair or councilmembers.


Removal of the 120 day provision as it relates to the posting of bills and resolutions on the agenda. Here is the new rule:


Rule 9(c) Placement on Agenda. All bills and resolutions must be initialed by the Council Chair or, in the Chair’s absence, the Vice Chair (or other designated chair as stated in Rule No. 3) in order to be placed on the agenda.


The existing rule was introduced by Chair Furfaro and changed the practice of the Council after many years. The current rule requires placement of all bills and resolutions, regardless of its legality, on the agenda within 120 days. This is not practical as all bills and resolutions require legal review. If a bill or resolution is deemed illegal, it should not be placed on the agenda. This rule change is not intended to "scuttle" proposed legislation, but rather to ensure that all bills and resolutions are legally sufficient. This is a standard process for all legislative branches.


A new section "Public Testimony" was created to give the Chair the authority to restrict testimony by the public. Here is the new rule:


Rule 11(c)(9) The Chair may restrict or terminate a speaker’s right to the floor for intemperate or abusive behavior or language.


This is not a new rule. Currently, rules for public testimony are housed in Rule 12, Public Hearings. This is a housekeeping measure as we are now placing the rules for public testimony in a new section, Rule 11, Testimony. Rules for public testimony should apply to all testimony, not just limited to public hearings. Again, this is a housekeeping measure. The new Rule 11(c)(9) is the former Rule 12(e)(4)(J). Intemperate or abusive behavior or language has no place at any Council or Committee meeting. I'm not sure why Mr. Parx would have a problem with this.


The removal of the section that allows the public to testify for 3 minutes on any item on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting.


What Mr. Parx fails to mention is that the current rule only allocates 18 minutes for this portion of the meeting. This creates an issue of unfairness because only 6 members of the public are entitled to this
right. The Council, by a vote of 5 members, can suspend the rules to address special circumstances as they arise. If the Council, not the Chair, determines that the rules need to be suspended to address specific and unforeseen circumstances, I have no problem with that. The public will be given every opportunity to participate in the process. That is my commitment.


I hope that I have clarified the misstatements by Andy Parx, which sets out to create unnecessary controversy and divisiveness to the Council and the community. My goal as the Chair is to bring efficiency to the Council. To create an environment that fosters fairness and consistency to the public and councilmembers. I have served for 10 years on the Council, and believe that these rules will best serve everyone. There is no attempt to reduce public participation, in fact quite the opposite. I hope to restore order and decorum to our meetings which will result in better legislation and a much more efficient office. Also, these rules will require a majority vote of the new Council. This is a proposal, and each member will be able to offer amendments at tomorrow's meeting. I see that Councilmember Hooser has chosen to share Mr. Parx's post on Facebook, creating a perception of unfairness on my part. That is his choice. I am troubled by this as I had hoped to start the new term with a true sense of teamwork. At the end of the day, the Council sets the direction for the organization. Not the Chair. And I am committed to moving forward as a team in the hopes that we can serve the people in their best interest.


Again, thank you for your email. I am always available to discuss your
concerns and can be reached via email or by cell phone at 645-0243. Have
a great day.


Mel Rapozo
Council Member
Kauai County Council

Saturday, November 29, 2014

MAJOR COUNCIL RULE CHANGES WOULD CUT PUBLIC TESTIMONY IN HALF; DENY COUNCILMEMBERS RIGHT TO INTRODUCE BILLS.

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(Note corrected time and location 12 noon at the War Memorial Convention Hall)
Action Alert- Please write to the council at counciltestimony@kauai.gov and ask that the new rules be deferred to the next regular council meeting for full public testimony and council consideration. You may also come Monday 12/1/14 at 12 noon at the War Memorial Convention Hall  to ask for a deferral.
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(PNN) A major rewrite of the Kaua`i County Council rules which would cut mandatory time for public testimony on agenda items from six minutes to three and give broad new powers to to limit testimony to new chair Mel Rapozo is scheduled to be adopted at Monday's mostly "ceremonial" Inaugural Meeting.


The rules, submitted by Rapozo, would also remove a section that requires the chair to put bills, resolutions and communications from councilmembers on the agenda within 120 days of submission, thus allowing the chair to scuttle proposed legislation. Legislation like Bill 2491 (Ordinance 960) related to disclosure of pesticides and GMOs might never have made it onto the agenda under the new rules, especially with Rapozo, a critic of the bill, as chair.


An entirely newly-created lengthy section on "Public Testimony" also give the chair the power to "restrict or terminate a speaker’s right to the floor for intemperate or abusive behavior or language" giving the chair potentially arbitrary and capricious powers to stop someone from speaking, as well as placing many other new restrictions on public testimony.


The new rules also eliminate a recently added section that allows the public to testify for three minutes on any agenda item that day, at the beginning of any meeting rather than having to wait until the item comes up for consideration- many times hours and hours into a meeting, even stretching into the night on occasion.


Monday's meeting is traditionally mostly ceremonial in nature and, according to the agenda, all testimony will be restricted three minutes to be given at the beginning of the meeting, thus violating current council rules and thereby, according to the Office of Information Practices (OIP), the state Sunshine Law which requites rules for public testimony to be of a standing nature and established well ahead of being applied.


In a bit of slight of hand the proposed rule changes as published at the Council's Webcast page, are not in the "Ramseyer" format that is traditionally used to show changes to documents so that what is "new" and what is being removed cannot be determined, making cross-checking for changes tedious if not impossible.


PNN has also learned that the way leadership of the "new" council was determined was also done on the sly in an "informal" meeting that was not even announced much less agendaed. Although an OIP opinion exists saying these organizational meetings may fall under a "loophole" in the Sunshine Law, that determination was based on a year when there was a majority of new council members. There are five returning members this year.


According to OIP Opinion 02-11 11/14/02 on "Meetings of Councilmembers Who Have Not Yet Officially Taken Office to Discuss Selection of Officers" although the "short answer" to the question of "(w)hether members of county councils are subject to part I of chapter 92, Hawaii Revised Statutes ("Sunshine Law"), prior to officially taking office when they meet to discuss selection of officers" was "No." the full opinion says that "(t)he OIP is of the opinion that it is not illegal for a quorum of newly elected members of a council to meet privately to discuss selection of officers prior to commencement of their terms of office. The OIP also believes, however, that a loophole in the Sunshine Law allows such an assemblage, which would be prohibited after councilmembers officially take office. Therefore, for the reasons set forth below, the OIP STRONGLY RECOMMENDS (emphasis in bold in original) that a quorum of members-elect of a board not assemble privately prior to officially taking office to discuss selection of board officers, in keeping with the spirit of the Sunshine Law_ The OIP also notes that this issue can be brought before the Legislature for clarification."


The council has always announced and agendaed these meeting even since the opinion was issued in 2002.

Monday, November 24, 2014

ASKING FOR IT

If you missed the original Rolling Stone article on the pervasiveness of rape at the University of Virginia- and many other campuses across the country if the Title IX investigation is any measure- you'd get little sense of the substance of the piece from official and media reaction


We're hearing a lot of "shocked-shocked" reactions from the school- and Virginia politicians- as if this was the first they heard of it, despite the university's awareness of, if not complicity in dealing with it.


There's a lot of "we need to stop these rapes from happening" (duh) but for the most part the essence of the article is ignored. Because while there's a lot of condemnation of fraternities- where the incident cited in the article took place- and they have been shut down temporarily at U Va, no one is talking about the culture that has allowed the attitudes toward women behind the actions to still be pervasive among our young adults, even after generations of efforts to reverse them.


The article is not really about not the specific case of gang rape of freshman "Jackie"- wrongly described as a "graphic depiction" by the press- but the fact that we are still plagued by a misogynistic generation of men who think nothing of sexual violence and who are not just enabled by university officials but whose actions are indeed protected by other students, including many if not most women on campus.


Although there have been media citations regarding pressure to avoid hurting the reputation of U Va, the article goes into depth as to how the real pressure was apparently from other women who warned "Jackie" that she would be shunned and black-balled from the alcohol-fueled "party scene" at the "#1-ranked party school" should she speak out or "make a big deal about it."


That was the most distressing part of the article. The focus on the "gang rape that happened that night" at "that fraternity" ignores the fact that we are still producing children who accept rape and even encourage it with a 20th century mindset that blames the woman or takes a "boys will be boys" attitude.


It's hard for those of us who have been involved in the feminist movement for decades and thought we have made progress to find out that, despite all attempts and claims of success in, at a minimum raising awareness, our children are no different than their grandparents.


But if the media coverage continues to see this as a plague of individual events at U Va or even at schools across the country rather than a problem of a culture that still raises children who haven't learned to respect women, we may never make any progress.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

HELP: GENIUS WANTED

I need someone a lot smarter than I am to help me with some simple research.


I have been thinking lately about how the "median income" - a dollar amount representing a point at which the number of people earning above that amount equals the number of people earning below it- may not really be as representative of levels of wealth and poverty as would be the "average" income- the amount that is reached by adding up all the incomes and dividing the result by the number of people "earning" that income.


So I started by Googleing "average income in Hawai`i" and the results, only showed "median income." At first I thought of Googleing "no you idiot, I said AVERAGE" until I came across an article that reminded me that the "average" anything is also called the "mean."


Fair enough- I'm the idiot. So I Googled "mean income in Hawai`i" and without exception, I got a page of listings for "median" income.


Now I did get an occasional reference to "per capita income." But that isn't the mean income. Per capita would denote the total of all income made divided by the total number of all residents, including people like children, the unemployed or others with zero income.


The problem with "median income," which, according to Wikipedia, was $68,020 in 2013 in Hawai`i, is that the dollar amounts above the median could conceivably, for argument sake, "average," $300,000 per year while the mean for those below it could average only $25,000 a year.


Meaning that the rich are a lot richer and the poor are a lot poorer than the $68,020 median- which seems pretty high to begin with- would seem to indicate to statistically-challenged idiots like me.


Based on nothing but noting the poverty of the regular working people I know who make $8-12 an hour and the relative apparent opulence of those who live in million dollar homes or half-million dollar Honolulu high rise condos I get the feeling that - surprise surprise- "median income" statistics are either lies or damnable lies.


Even at the $12 an hour rate, for a 40 hour work week that comes out to just a smidgeon under $25,000 a year. At $10/hr it's just under $21,000.


Is there a research/data/ statistical genius out there who can figure out the "mean" income for those above and below the median income. I have gone to the US Census and they don't even have "mean" just "per capita" and "median."


I started a math major in college but I never claimed to be any good at arithmetic. I remain your humble numerical idiot.

Friday, October 24, 2014

I'D LIKE TO SOLVE THE PUZZLE, PAT- IS IT "NO F*CKING WAY?"

As you might expect, the three Kaua`i County Charter Amendments on the ballot November 4 are meant to consolidate power in the hands of the mayor and reduce transparency by asking "trick" questions that don't really tell voters what the real intent- much less content- might be.


So let's play "Who do you trust?"


Ballot Question #1:
Shall the Department of Personnel Services be changed to the Department of Human Resources, with additional human resources functions?


This first one may look like the long-awaited change to get rid of our Department of Personnel and replace it with a modern day Department of Human Resources. But like the fake change a few years back from having an "Administrative Assistant" to a "Managing Director," it is merely a change in title.


It does do one more thing- it takes a whole list of powers away from the Civil Service Commission and give them to the newly renamed Director of Human Resources who is appointed by and answers to (drum poll please)... the mayor.


The Department of Personnel has been the seat of the infamous Kaua`i patronage system for decades and rather than ending that this amendment would finally put practice in print by giving the mayor even more control over who gets "merit-based" civil service positions.


How? Well, it removes the phrase "All positions in the county, except those exempted by law, shall be under civil service" and adds "The director of human resources shall be responsible for the execution of the human resources management program which shall include" followed by a list of general functions that used to be, in theory, under the perusal of the Civil Service Commission.


But at the bottom of the list it adds (hides?) the phrase "other related duties as may be determined by the Mayor"... presumably, now officially, including the appointment of hizzonah's cousin-guys to that new opening in public works.


This one stinks like Mount Kekaha. Vote "No" and tell them you want a real Human Resources Department.


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Then we have "Hide the Salami for 1000 Alex"


Ballot Question #2
Should the county be allowed to publish summaries of charter amendments or a new charter in a newspaper of general circulation and the entire text on the official website of the County of Kauai?


This one simply allows them to stop publishing the full text of charter amendments in the newspaper and do that only at the cumbersome, unsearchable county web site- although you'd never know that to look at the question. It makes it sound like this is a wonderful, new additional service we don't have now. By failing to use the words "instead of" it doesn't arouse suspicion... or for that matter communicate the true intent.


Although there aren't any statistics for how many people aren't on-line on Kaua`i , there are probably a lot considering the local newspaper is free on the internet yet it still has the print circulation to survive.


The real question should be "Should the county be allowed to publish only summaries of charter amendments or a new charter in a newspaper of general circulation instead of the currently required entire text, and publish the entire text only on the official web site of County of Kaua`i?"


But why confuse the already bamboozled, eh?


If this is the kind of flim-flam "summary" that we'll be getting in the newspaper from now on it will assure that it's even more of a supreme hassle to look for what they are really planning to do... and that less people will bother to do it.


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Okay twice-divorced "Dating Game" contestants - is it "the third one is the charm" or "if you agree to it you'll be a three time loser."

Ballot Question #3
"Shall Charter section 27.07 regarding recall ballots be amended to comply with State law and to meet voting system requirements?"


Whatever those "state requirements" may be if they even exist since the state elections bureau is notorious for not having administrative rules.


This is yet another of our favorite type of "trick" question, used in the past to dupe voters into removing the county charter's open meeting law- which was permissibly stricter than the state's Sunshine Law- by asking us if the charter should "comply" with the state law.


Although the question on the ballot says nothing about the actual change to the charter it would change the sentence (* added to denote the change) "Immediately *to the right* of the proposition there shall be designated spaces in which to mark the ballot FOR or AGAINST the recall" to "Immediately *next to* the proposition there shall be designated spaces in which to mark the ballot FOR or AGAINST the recall," changing the words "to the right of" to "next to."


We've tried to figure out the no doubt sinister motive behind this to no avail. That and the fact that the question has nothing to do with the actual change in wording makes us even more suspicious.


But as usual the things that really need change are not on the menu.


Just about everybody agrees that the perennially broken charter section regarding "The Office of the County Attorney" could use some changes, perhaps making it an elective office or at least noting that he or she should serve the public. It has also been proposed that it should, at a minimum, be changed to a "Corporation Counsel" system as all the other counties use... although they would probably just propose changing the name without changing the current arrangement that was seemingly intentionally designed to cause a natural conflict-of-interest in serving both the council and the administration.


Or maybe a change to elect the police and/or planning commissions.


Or an amendment to create a Department of Environmental Protection like Maui has.


Or allowing for council confirmation of department heads. Not requiring any of them (except for the county attorney) to have to be confirmed by the council when being appointed by the mayor explains in a large way why we are said to have a "strong mayor system." Which also explains the pervasive administrative corruption since department heads are not required to even show up if the council wants to have a little chat. You'll notice how council agendas "request the presence" of say, the county engineer or planning director.


It's something that would be much more effective in terms of administration accountability than having some meaningless "county manager system" since any change in how we select the administrative chief is meaningless compared to having the right person in the job.


Yeah- those'll all happen. We've only been working on them for 35 years.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

IS IT FARTHER TO L.A. OR BY BUS?

In any compendium of incompetence our local Kaua`i newspaper has it's own volume. But the current editor has  brought drivel and illiteracy to previously unparalleled heights and depths, respectively .  

With "Yes," "No" and "Maybe" choices, today's "poll" asks:

"Do you think James Pflueger, 88, received the appropriate sentence (seven months in jail, 5 years probation) for his role in the the (sic) Ka Loko dam failure on March 14, 2006 that killed seven people?"

Leaving aside the question of why on earth a person go to the trouble of answering an opinion poll question with a "maybe,"  exactly what information does a "no" convey? 

It certainly doesn't indicate whether you think it's too little... or for that matter, too much. It's enough to befuddle Goldilocks.

Garbage in, garbage out- how appropriate for the The Garbage Island.

Next week's question: If you're flying in a canoe and your ears fall off, how many elephants can you fit in a dog house? Hint: Ice cream has no bones.