Sunday, February 15, 2015

THERE'S GOOD SCIENCE AND THERE'S BAD SCIENCE... AND THEN THERE'S ENRIGHT SCIENCE.


RE: My piece the other day about the comparisons between statements made by the con man played by Dan Aykroyd on SNL and those of Ag Dept. head Scott Enright in testimony at the buffer zone public hearing at the legislature Thursday.




At the hearing Enright cited that infamous half-assed DOH "study" which tried to say that the amounts of especially toxic Restricted Use Pesticides found in stream bed sediment and other places downwind of the chemical companies open-air pesticide experiments, were safe. The study actually said that the levels were "within acceptable limits" to which someone on Facebook commented that "there are no acceptable amounts of pesticides."




I felt compelled to answer that that's not strictly true, saying:




"Well maybe, although if there were truly one molecule in an ocean of water I wouldn't obsess over it. The problem is that when you find any amounts- even a molecule- in stream sediment as the DOH's so-called "study" did, it is an indicator of there having been massive amounts nearby- enough so that there a presence left where ongoing diffusion has been and is taking place.




Even if you accept that there is an amount that is "acceptable" in a glass of drinking water (usually expressed in "X" parts per million or even billion) it is bad science to presume that that amount is applicable to finding remnant amounts in a nearby stream bed.




In other words if you drink a glass of straight undiluted poison you'll die on the spot. But if you take one drop of that concentrated poison and dilute it in a million gallons of clean water- and keep putting one drop of the new solution in another million gallons of clean water a few times- eventually the resultant mixture would probably be pretty much innocuous... just like having a stream running continuously over the bed.




But that doesn't mean that somewhere, right nearby in that "original source" glass of straight poison that promulgated the eventually "innocuous" solution, there isn't some really toxic stuff.

Friday, February 13, 2015

DO YOU SMELL THAT?


Despite the seriousness of the subject of Thursday's State Senate hearing on establishing buffer zones for the use of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP), the almost comic routine by international chemical cartel mouthpieces and second banana Scott Enright, the head of the Department of Agriculture, had many guffawing at the benign "nothing to see here- go back to your pesticide-laden homes" portrayal of some of the most toxic substances on the face of the earth.




It was reminiscent of the classic Dan Aykroyd "Bag o' Glass" Saturday Night Live sketch from the 70's where Aykroyd plays Erwin Mainway, President of Mainway Toys.




Using many of the same ploys that poison-purveyors like Syngenta, Dow and of course Monsanto use to get convince us we're just a bunch of hysterical nut cases, Aykroyd does his con-man best to try to convince "Consumer Probe" host Candice Bergen that what she calls his "so-called harmless playthings"- playthings like Pretty Peggy Ear Piercing Set, Mr. Skin Grafter, General Tron's Secret Police Confession Kit Doggie Dentist and Teddy Bear Chainsaw- are nothing to worry about.




And of the Bag of Glass- a big plastic bag full of, yes, shards of broken glass- Mainway scoffs at the dangers like Enright et. al. defending the use of deadly chemicals adjacent to schools, hospitals, homes in towns like Waimea on Kaua`i.




Ask yourself if this type of folderol sound familiar? As Aykroyd tells Curtain:




"Yeah, well, look - you know, the average kid, he picks up, you know, broken glass anywhere, you know? The beach, the street, garbage cans, parking lots, all over the place in any big city. We're just packaging what the kids want! I mean, it's a creative toy, you know? If you hold this up, you know, you see colors, every color of the rainbow! I mean, it teaches him about light refraction, you know? Prisms, and that stuff! You know what I mean?"




Yeah- it's all just science- whaddaya some kinda Luddite?




"Look, we put a label on every bag that says, 'Kid! Be careful - broken glass!' I mean, we sell a lot of products in the "Bag O'" line.. like Bag O' Glass, Bag O' Nails, Bag O' Bugs, Bag O' Vipers, Bag O' Sulfuric Acid. They're decent toys, you know what I mean?"




Just like RUPs- it's all right there on the label. Everything is safe as long as it's on the label.




There's also action figure Johnny Switchblade Adventure Punk which Aykroyd dismisses by saying "So Barbie takes a knife or Ken gets cut every once in a while. I mean there's no harm in it as far as I can see," later demonstrating the dangers choking on a runaway Nerf Ball.




Finally when Bergen presents him with Alphabet Blocks as an example of a safe toy Aykroyd screams "C'mon, this is harmless? Alright, okay, you call this harmless? [holds block in hand] I mean.. [plays with block and fakes injury] Aagghh!! I got a splinter in here, look at that! This is wood! This is unsanded wood, it's rough!"




Kind of reminds one of industry PR flacks who, with a straight face, try to convince legislators that the REAL problem isn't the literally tons of RUPs blowing all over town but rather the home gardener who uses a few tablespoons of non-RUP Round-up a couple of times a year.




Just like kids want those toys we're told people want pesticides- even in the DNA of their corn, soy beans and glow-in-the-dark goldfish. And hey- what's a few perfectly innocuous pesticides among play-friends?




Just like Mr. Mainway dismisses the dangers of his products, what does it matter if people's homes are coated with neuro-toxins or if they get a giant whiff of them when the winds suddenly pick up. As long as we don't have brown spots on our papayas who cares what happens to a few brown people. We're too busy feeding the world to worry about that.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

JE SUIS CHARLIE? NOT SO FAST CORPORATE MEDIA



Ironic isn't nearly a strong enough term for how corporate pundits use solemn tones in tearful defense of "free speech" when condemning the assassination of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, all while actually censoring their work by refusing to re-publish the actual images (much less with translations).




Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi approached that kind of critique yesterday after he delved into a tangential comparison with the AP's archiving of an image of Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ," which Matt describes as "a set piece of a crucifix submerged in the artist's own urine, caused Serrano to receive death threats back in the day."




But unusually for Taibbi he approaches but missed the mark in his tome.


Here's the Associated Press' lame excuse for condemning the gun-assisted censorship out of one side of their mouths while essentially censoring the cartoons out of the other:




"We’ve taken the view that we don’t want to publish hate speech or spectacles that offend, provoke or intimidate, or anything that desecrates religious symbols or angers people along religious or ethnic lines...We don’t feel that’s useful."



What a pile of horsesh*t.



The reality is that "without fear or favor"- at least in the case of the former- is anything but in play here. It's actually a matter of a lack of any semblance of the courage that presenting the background necessary to understand the "news" would entail. After all, isn't "in depth reporting" what they all claim they strive to do?



Now no one is saying that Brian Williams and Wolf Blitzer need to put their lives on the line and surround themselves with armed bodyguards in order to protect free speech. Fear, if not outright cowardice, is a perfectly acceptable excuse here. But don't give us some gobbledygook about propriety as you present the nightly infotaining celebrity blood-letting which you laughingly call the news.



If The NY times- which issued a similar convoluted "explanation" today- is scared to reproduce these cartoons and inform people as to what exactly these raving religious lunatics had their panties in a bunch over, just say so. But don't hide behind some sort of moralistic doubletalk all the while claiming to stand in solidarity with the people who really have the courage to satirize those who so richly deserve it.




Thursday, December 25, 2014

THE GENTILES' BIG DAY

We were nothing if not assimilationist Jews. After all, as my mother's brother Uncle Jerry was keen to point out, after ridding himself of the distinctly Hebraic "Paschkes" surname in favor of the blander American-cheese "Parks" moniker upon immigration, my father proceeded to name us kids Andrew and Kathryn- an apostle and a Russian Czarina.


So Christmas trees and stockings hung on the bureau with care were de rigueur yearly fare. Uncle Jerry would come down from the Bronx and he and my mother would "sneak" a fresh ham with the admonishment "don't tell Grandma."


When Grandma did visit during the Yule season she would stick her head into the living room, look at the tree and mutter streams of "oy gevalt" and "a shonda, a shonda- DAT'S vhat it is" under her breath (but at the same time loud enough so everyone in the next apartment could hear it) throughout the day. Every Christmas morning after the wrapping paper covered the floor Uncle Jerry would crack that it "looks like Santa Claus threw up in here."


I was apparently a born investigative reporter because at the age of three my source (my best friend Barry's four-year-old brother) had informed me as to the "Santa Scam." So I decided that this year I was going to catch my parents in the act of posing as Mr Claus, sneaking into my bedroom and filling my stocking with all manner of American consumer crap- crap without which I couldn't live.


Being the original "toothpicks under my eyes" kid I thought staying up and staking out the stockings would be a breeze. I wasn't sure whether I was going to jump out from under the covers and yell "Gotcha" because I apparently was also clever enough to know that if I blew their cover, next year all said crap might not "magically" appear.


Using my trusty wristwatch and the light beam from the street lights outside my window on FDR Drive, every half hour I'd go and check the stocking. 11:00... nothing. 11:30... nothing. Midnight... nothing.


Finally it was 1 a.m. and I KNEW I had remained vigilant. Yet miraculously it was FULL. The thought that I'd actually fallen asleep was anathema to my budding Sherlockian persona but while I wasn't stupid enough to think a fat man in a red suit had actually stopped by my and every other kid's home, there was, for the next couple of years, always that nagging sort of "but what if" agnosticism.


So when it was my daughter Jessica's turn we had the tree, the presents, the stocking and the whole schmear. Same with my grandson Tony. Why not- why scar them with being the only kid that didn't get to have a tree in the house with all the accouterments?


Flash forward to December 2000. My parents- at this point my dad and step mother- are permanently ensconced in Florida where, I believe by law, all old New York Jews must go upon retirement. Many had escaped the Nazi concentration camps only to find themselves in pre-fabricated rows of alphanumerically-delineated barracks, surrounded by guard shacks and barbed wire fences. Go figure.


And, my step mother is dying because she "didn't want to bother anybody" about the colon cancer that had been growing in her belly for who-knows-how-long.


So there we all are: me, Jessica, Tony. my sister Kathy and my dad and trying to give Tony, who was four, Christmas in the Heart of Jewville- Century Village in W. Palm Beach.


My step-mother Sylvia was pretty much comatose 23 hours a day but her lucid moments consisted of doing a reprise of my Grandma- opening an eye, looking around at where Santa had upchucked, mumbling "oy gevalt" before dropping back into unconsciousness.


Now Florida has quite the Home Hospice operation where they come into your home and help with, as the end nears, whatever level of palliative care the, shall we say "pre-deceased" requires. By Christmas eve 250-plus pound Sylvia's had deteriorate to the point where ambulatory bathroom trips were out of the question. So of course we let hospice know that we required the promised "next level of care."


Now of course the Hospice employees were not the little old Jews of Century Village but were the local Floridian gentiles- for the most part black women. And somehow we hadn't gotten the message that it was Christmas and no one was going to show up.


And when I asked around, all the old Century Village Jews could say was "Vell, vhadda ya expect- it's 'The Gentiles' Big Day.'"


That night this little couplet wrote itself:


'Twas the Night before Christmas and all through the joy
Not a gentile was working not even a shabbos goy.
The Jews were all snuggled in their self-made camps
Ordering Chinese food and lighting eight lamps....


Happy "Big Day" all you gentiles out there.

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.