Wednesday, November 26, 2008

WHAT’S HE DOING BACK THERE?

WHAT’S HE DOING BACK THERE?: Despite our analysis of the council’s organizational meeting yesterday and our conclusion that the 4-3 split is a positive development there’s still a lot of bemoaning of how the process was “lacking...lokahi” (unity expressed with harmony) and “akahai” (kindness) and “aloha” (love and consideration for each other)” according to someone who might know- former councilperson JoAnn Yukimura.

Her letter to the editor in today’s local paper describes how it might have gone if everyone had followed the usual gritted-teeth, phony-smiling-while-readying-the-backstabbing-knife kabuki of council organizational meetings past.

But for those who still want to express themselves on the raw power play that Kaipo Asing and his 3D (Darryl, Derek and Dickie) cohorts, don’t forget- it’s not official yet.

Because, speaking of Kabuki, there’s yet another piece of theater yet to take place that is usually done out of sight of the public amidst the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural gala at the Convention hall.

Every two years- and four in the case of the mayor- there’s what appears to be the swearing in of the newly elected officers on the stage of the convention hall before a packed house.

But what many don’t know is that this is but a play because the actual swearing in and even the inaugural meeting of the council has already taken place.

The agenda for the first meeting of the council is already published and it includes the following list of items

INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE KAUA‘I COUNTY COUNCIL

MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2008 12:00 NOON

KAUA‘I WAR MEMORIAL CONVENTION HALL 4191 Hardy Street Lihu`e, Kaua`i, Hawai`i

MEETING CALLED TO ORDER BY MAYOR-ELECT BERNARD P. CARVALHO, JR.

APPOINTMENT OF COUNCIL CHAIRPERSON.

APPOINTMENT OF COUNCIL VICE CHAIRPERSON.

RESOLUTIONS:

Resolution No. 2009-01, RESOLUTION APPOINTING THE COUNTY
CLERK OF THE COUNTY OF KAUA‘I

Resolution No. 2009-02, RESOLUTION ADOPTING RULES OF THE
COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF KAUA‘I FOR THE ORGANIZATION OF
COMMITTEES AND THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS

Resolution No. 2009-03, RESOLUTION RELATING TO THE
APPOINTMENT OF THE CHAIRPERSONS, VICE CHAIRPERSONS, AND MEMBERS OF THE SEVERAL STANDING COMMITTEES OF THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF KAUA‘I


Before the big “event”, usually in the back ballroom, the real inauguration and meeting is played out in accordance with the Charter which reads:

Section 7.01.(Mayoral) Election and Term of Office. The electors of the county shall elect a mayor whose term of office shall be four years beginning at twelve o'clock meridian on the first working day of December following his election. No person shall serve as mayor for more than two consecutive full terms.

Section 3.07. Organization of Council; Officers; Rules; Employees.

A. The council shall meet in the council room at the county building or in the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall for its organization promptly after its inauguration and swearing-in ceremony at which time it shall elect one of its members as chairman and presiding officer of the council. Until such time as the chairman is elected, the mayor shall preside at the council meetings, provided that the mayor shall not have a vote. The council shall also elect one of its members as vice-chairman who shall act as the presiding officer in the event of the chairman's absence. The council shall appoint a presiding officer pro tempore from its members in the event of the absence of both the chairman and vice-chairman.

B. The council shall adopt such rules as it may deem necessary for the organization of committees and the transaction of its business.

Some strange things stand out to the observant, in a plain reading of agenda. How can a “mayor-elect” serve as the original presiding officer before the new council has a chair? Doesn’t he have to take office first?

And how can the council meeting start at noon when the mayor is sworn in at noon?

Actually what usually happens- or has happened in the past- is this:

Before the council is assembled the 5th circuit court judge with the most seniority swears in the new mayor in a even more secretive ceremony in a smaller corner somewhere (we’ve never actually seen this happen despite trying on an occasion or two) precisely at noon along with the council.

Then later the mayor presides over the first council meeting and takes the actual vote for the chair person which, despite the lack of a report of such in the papers or blogs, is not really official yet.

Though we’ve never seen it happen, by law the council is required to take public testimony at this inaugural meeting- if you get there early enough and can find it.

That means that the new mayor is required to allow anyone there time to speak on not just the “Appointment of the council chairperson” but once again on the “Appointment of the vice chairperson” and once again again on the “Resolution relating to the appointment of the chairpersons, vice chairpersons, and members of the several standing committees of the council of the county of Kaua`i.”

One question that arises- and you have permission to skip this part if your eyes glaze over with a blur of “too much information”- is how long each person is permitted to speak.

People have often heard the council chair say “according to our rules you’re allowed three minutes to speak and another three minutes once everyone else has had a chance to testify”.

But those “rules” are necessarily voted on by each new council- as the agenda above says- after the appointment of the chair and vice chair (although before the vote on committee chairs and assignments).

According to the Sunshine law, testimony on every agenda item must be taken and the OIP has said that that means that the council must define in its rules how long each person is allowed and then stick to it.

But if the rules aren’t passed yet is there a time limit?

But back to those rules. They are perhaps the most important thing that guides the council throughout the two year term and also contains the times and day of the week of the meetings.

Until recently regular council meetings took place at 1:30 p.m. and have traditionally taken place on Thursdays not the current Wednesdays. Committee meetings took place at 9 a.m. for the first one of the month and 4:30 p.m. for the second.

This 4:30 meeting was instituted in the 90’s to allow more public testimony. And the 1:30 start of regular meetings enabled the same thing- they usually began with public hearings on bills and then moved on to regular council business enabling people who wanted to testify to only take a half day off from work to do so.

But in the secrecy and hidden action years of the Asing regime everything that can be done has been done to diminish the public’s participation including things like shifting the order of agenda items so that, if a crowd is there at 9 a.m. to testify and then thins out, eventually no one is left when the item comes up late in the afternoon.

Anyone who complains they can’t take time off from work to attend council meetings would do well to show up and make a stink about the early meeting times- if you can find the meeting.

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News flash- the Honolulu Advertiser is reporting that some of Mayor Elect Carvalho’s cabinet appointments are official

According the “breaking news” article:

Gary Heu will be reappointed to the position of administrative assistant and Wallace G. Rezentes Jr. will be reappointed as finance director.

Other appointments include:

• Director of Parks and Recreation: Lenny Rapozo Jr.

• Director of the Office of Economic Development: George Costa Jr.

• Deputy Director of Finance: Belma Baris (reappointment).

• Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation: Kylan Dela Cruz (reappointment).

Additionally, Beth Tokioka will be appointed executive assistant to the mayor and will be responsible for communications, governmental affairs and community relations. Mary Daubert will be reappointed as public information officer and will report to Tokioka.
Rapozo has been employed by the state Department of Public Safety for 20 years and is currently the branch manager for Kaua`i. He is also chairman of the county's Parks & Recreation Department Advisory Committee, and a member of the Kaua`i Police Commission.

Costa is general manager of the Kauai Hilton Resort, and has 32 years experience in hotel management on Kaua`i. He is president of the Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association — Kauai Chapter. For the past six months, he has served as a member of the Landfill Siting Committee for Kaua`i County.

Tokioka has served for the past five years as director of the Office of Economic Development. Before that, she served as the county's public information officer and executive secretary to the mayor.

The positions of county attorney and chief engineer have not yet been filled. Those interested in applying for these positions should forward a cover letter and resume to Mayor-elect Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., P.O. Box 3510, Lihu`e, HI 96766.

The real news is there that Dela Cruz, who was expected to take over the reigns from Carvalho at Parks and Rec. has been replaced by Carvalho’s campaign manager Rapozo... So much for the new era of merit based, non-crony appointments.

As expected, Tokioka- another campaign stalwart- still has a job. But the question is, where did this new job come from?

There has never been an “executive assistant to the mayor ...for communications, governmental affairs and community relations” before and more importantly of course no such line item appropriation for the job appears in the council approved 2008-09 county budget

Also, according to an unconfirmed contention in the comments to that article, someone reports that Ed Okomoto will be fired as the head of Wailua Golf Course, effective Dec. 1.

What happened Bernard? Couldn’t get a good tee time?

The list does not include an appointment for the Convention Hall manager, a post the mayor does appoint that is considered a “political plum”- a low workload job usually awarded to campaign supporters.

What also strikes us is the appointment of departmental deputies which, according to one of the only county attorney opinions by Lani Nakazawa ever released to the public, is illegal as the charter is clear that department heads are selected by the mayor and then they appoint their deputies.

The matter was a bone of contention during the Kusaka administration when she attempted to install an unqualified crony as the deputy planning director and got then county Attorney Hartwell Blake Sr. to opine that she could.

But following a two year battle by government watchdog Horace Stoessel the new administration’s county attorney reversed the ruling and disallowed the mayor the privilege of appointing deputies. and the a new council chair, Ron Kouchi released it.

This is not my beautiful new administration... same as it ever was.

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Correction/clarification: Yesterday we reported that Andrea Brower supported Derek Kawakami in this year’s council election. Although we and many others believed that was the case we might have drawn the conclusion in part due to of her association with and Malama Kaua`i and Keone Kealoha. Ms Brower says she in fact did not support Kawakami. In addition the piece as a whole might have been read to intimate that Brower was malahini. She was born and raised on Kaua`i and in no way was the characterization meant to apply to her.

3 comments:

Ed Coll said...

Your apology to Andrea should have been up-front and center at the top of your article, and your assertion "every politically active individual on Kaua`i knows..." was way over-the-top hubris presuming a greater knowledge and authority than warranted. But your, "Her letter to the editor in today’s local paper describes how it might have gone if everyone had followed the usual gritted-teeth, phony-smiling-while-readying-the-backstabbing-knife kabuki of council organizational meetings past." was dead on target.

MauiBrad said...

Andy cited:

"Section 3.07. Organization of Council; Officers; Rules; Employees.

A. The council shall meet in the council room at the county building or in the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall for its organization promptly ***after its inauguration and swearing-in ceremony*** at which time it shall elect one of its members as chairman and presiding officer of the council...

B. The council shall adopt such rules as it may deem necessary for the organization of committees and the transaction of its business."

The County Council shall meet to organize "AFTER its inauguration and swearing-in ceremony." So the meeting on Monday was not official, a straw poll of sorts, for show and intimidation?

Any chance one of the 3D's would change their vote?

You said the real meeting is suppose to be open to the public and take public testimony?

As you have written it is impressive what Lani has done, her youth and idealism has the curmudgeons rattled even before she takes office.

Speaking of youth and idealism, I can attest that neither Andrea nor Keone endorsed any of the County candidates. Andrea thinks they should try to work with whoever gets into office. There also weren't any endorsement materials posted on any of Malama's affiliate websites.

The confusion may be that I posted some candidate recommendations on my own blog only, Aloha Analytics. In fact, I was the one who posted positive sentiment for Derek on my blog. As a result, I was very disappointed to read about the nature of the ceremonial organizational meeting, esp. that Derek would be a rubberstamp for tired, backward leadership rather than the decisive vote for positive change. I still have hope that he should know right from wrong on issue votes, if not also on these organizational votes when they are officially taken after their swearing in.

Aloha, Brad

Andy Parx said...

Yes Ed to say "every" was a patently silly statement that sipped by my copy editing. It of course should say "many"