TROT VS. GALLOP: We spent the morning playing catch-up, watching last week’s “county manager forum” and were expecting a good presentation from David Mora, the West Coast regional director of the International City/County Management Association and probably a bunch of ill-informed clueless questions from the attendees.
While Mora didn’t disappoint, nothing could be farther from the truth on the latter point.
Anyone who cares about the future of county governance would be behooved to give it a gander or fire up the VCR tomorrow morning (Friday) at 8:08 a.m. and hopefully continuing over the weekend on Ho`ike Channel 53.
The questions asked revealed the breadth and depth of the project and made it apparent that there are myriad considerations that need to go into any new system.
One thing became clear about what Mora insisted we call the “Council/County Manager (C-CM)” system- there are as many ways to set up a system as there are jurisdictions and virtually no two are the same. Each reflects the needs of the community, compliance with the existing state constitution and laws and especially political history and culture of the area.
Other than saying he made clear that the position of mayor never disappears under a C-CM scheme we won’t go into all the devilish details but one thing is clear- if the particulars of the system we choose isn’t appropriate there will be the devil to pay.
That means that having the existing three person sub-committee of the Charter Review Commission meet once a month in untelevised thus practical anonymity and come up with a fully fleshed out and vetted proposal may be impossible and certainly is not appropriate for a plan of this magnitude.
Such a change would be many times more important to the people of Kaua`i than our General Plan (GP) Updates, another of which is due to begin after the next election.
Writing any “new charter”- which is what it will take to implement a C-CM plan- must be subject to the same level of public education, input and scrutiny as the GP updates including a citizen’s advisory panel, island-roving, televised meetings and all the public input possible.
If we don’t do that we are likely to produce a document that doesn’t reflect the needs and wants of a consensus of the people and guarantee that all that work will be for nil when people are asked to institute a new system of government that they don’t understand or particularly want with all the details being released next summer fully formed, each giving someone a reason to vote against it.
As we all know when asked to pass a ballot measure we don’t understand or aren’t sure we like, people will vote no.
If we go through all this and it is shot down it will be the death of any chance for a re-write of our charter to reflect the distance we’ve traveled since the current charter was written in the mid 60’s to reflect a plantation economy and society.
We ask the proponents of the C-CM system to slow down and instead of insisting we rush head-long into a potential flawed document without a community buy-in. We urge them to consider allowing the subcommittee to recommend a process similar to the one employed to come up with a GP, which is usually a two year process.
We owe it to ourselves to make this work and if it’s going to work, there’s plenty of work to do.