Wednesday, August 5, 2009

SOMEONE LEFT THE RULES OUT IN THE RAIN

SOMEONE LEFT THE RULES OUT IN THE RAIN: Anyone reading yesterday’s (Tuesday 8/4) letter to the editor in the local newspaper from Council reformers Tim Bynum and Lani Kawahara might think it’s time to do the happy dance

After all, they said:

There is good news. Chair Asing has now initiated new policies at Council Services that allow for all council members to see all the correspondence addressed to them in a timely manner. New e-mail addresses have been established that forward e-mail electronically to all council members without being screened or delayed. Council meeting minutes are beginning to be posted on the county’s Web site.

We are pleased at this turn of events and appreciate Chair Asing allowing these changes to occur.

And indeed the agenda contains some items that could portend well.

Finally up for discussion and a vote is Resolution 2009-50 – the one that Bynum tried to introduce on June 3 that would

amend Rule 10(c) by clarifying that the placement of any proposed bill or resolution on the agenda is not a matter of discretion with the Chair or Vice Chair to grant or deny, but merely administrative in nature.

This time though it is introduced by Kawahara for reasons that we’ll try to shed some light on later.

Although some are still suspicious about the ad hoc committee resolution to study and make recommendations regarding council rules- one that was deferred at the marathon showdown during the last council meeting on July 22- Bynum has said he will support it with amendments, one to make sure the committee has three more members who are more amenable to open governance and transparency and another to assure the committee will come under the sunshine law, although it is hard to see how it could avoid such as a duly appointed governmental committee.

But also on the agenda are two items that might raise an eyebrow or two.

As we reported last week there have been some changes promised and indeed instituted by Chair Kaipo Asing and they are actually on the agenda for a “presentation” by Asing.

Asing has been anything but a willing adherent to the dismantling of his autocratic regime that has stifled debate and instituted an era of secrecy that has had even his former supporters seething, so expect it to be anything but straightforward.

Agenda communication C 2009-274

request(s) agenda time to inform Councilmembers on recent changes made in the following areas of Council procedures:

1) Councilmembers' access to the agenda.

2) Placement of public documents, (including meeting minutes) on the County's website.

3) Timely circulation of Council documents; and

4) Access to information by the public and Councilmembers


Though it smells like capitulation we’ve never been ones to underestimate the ability of Asing and his chief strategist County Clerk Peter Nakamura to give with one hand what they take away with the other. We’ll bet dollars to donuts that the strings attached to any beneficence in his presentations attach to a cure that contains the viral seeds of new loopholes to allow them to maintain elements of control.

Because despite the fact that Bynum and Kawahara have, as they said in their letter Tuesday, “remained focused on three issues and have attempted to avoid personalities” Asing has exhibited a ferocity and personal vindictiveness seldom seen in the council chambers if the July 22 meeting is any example.

As if to continue the attempts to vilify his nemeses, there’s this little item placed on the agenda by Asing:

C 2009-267 Communication (07/16/2009) from Councilmember Tim Bynum, requesting Council Chair's rationale for denying his travel request.

Seems that Asing is going to continue to abuse his discretion as chair, not just in punishing Bynum by denying routine travel expenses but is going to try to take the council’s time with some outrageous slings and arrows directed at Bynum, possibly because Bynum has dared to mention his dismay at the $175,000 the council was asked to approve to apparently mount a legal challenge to the citizen’s general plan enforcement charter amendment passed last November.

The travel reimbursement request- made in an internal memo to Asing and not intended for the council’s agenda- was for travel to Honolulu to meet personally with the council’s outside attorney on the matter, David Minkins.

He has apparently been advising the council on how to fight the amendment, as we’ve speculated in the past based on the fact that the total $220,000 appropriated so far wouldn’t be needed if the council were simply going to implement the amendment.

Since the matter itself has been discussed only in executive session- where according to Bynum’s communication to Asing he did not get to really ask Minkins what the heck all that money was for- Asing is probably going to use the letter to accuse Bynum of violating the confidentiality of executive session.

This of course is absurd since Bynum simply publicly mentioned and questioned the amount of money appropriated , not anything that specifically happened in executive session.

But Asing is so used to hiding public policy behind closed doors, his current tin ear for politics has led him to the delusional conclusion that this will somehow resonate with the viewing public which has become all too attenuated to his shenanigans.

The amount of money is in fact pubic information. The Office of Information Practices has ruled that actual appropriations must be done in open session in an opinion issued to get the Kaua`i council to stop hiding how much money they were paying outside attorneys.

That may be why Kawahara is now introducing the “10(c)” rule change since by the time that comes up on the agenda Asing’s bitterness at Bynum will have spilled over onto the council floor.

Kawahara, for her part, is still mum on why she apparently called the police at the July 22 meeting although speculation has been rampant. Despite many interviews with attendees PNN still cannot conclusively confirm why three police cars showed up to talk to Kawahara during a recess.

Despite the projections by some that the meeting will be a series of Kumbaya sessions and Hallmark moments, “someone’s feeling threatened m’lord” so look for Asing to continue the backbiting and petty vindictiveness.

And, stay tune to find out if Councilperson Derek Kawakami- who ducked out of the last meeting without commenting on the fireworks- is being a wise guy in his resolution “to honor ‘Uncle’ Macarthur Dela Cruz, who recently passed away, by naming the Kekaha beach park ‘Macarthur Park’” or is just too young to remember Richard Harris’ ‘60’s attempt to become a pop music icon.

With rule changes in the air and new document availability, perhaps Harris’ words are appropriate for what Asing sees happening to his decades-in-the-making formula for dictatorial success:

I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again

Oh, no!

4 comments:

Ace Harbinger said...

"We’ll bet dollars to donuts that the strings attached to any beneficence in his presentations attach to a cure that contains the viral seeds of new loopholes to allow them to maintain elements of control."

Andy, you may not always remember the difference between "peaked" and "piqued", but that's a delightfully constructed sentence.

- A.H.

Brad said...

I guess your post is what Derek was talking about by saying he reads the blogs and expecting them to "light it up" today on the subject.

Re: "Despite many interviews with attendees PNN still cannot conclusively confirm why three police cars showed up...during a recess."

FYI: I have not seen it yet, but apparently TGI provides a link to the police log of the July 22nd event in the printed version and on the paid online version of the paper.

"Light it up"

Andy Parx said...

If anyone has the ability to post what the print paper had on the incident on the 22nd feel free to either post it here or email it to me.

Brad said...

Here you go Andy, they still don't have the story, but it's good enough. Kaipo's reference to www.kauai.gov was actually County IT employees who set up the two new email addresses, hardly any kin malfeasance with the County website. TGI posted the following later today on the free online version. Again, they still don't have the story, but it's good enough.

"When asked about the appearance of police officers outside the Historic County Building during the dinner break of the July 22 meeting, Kawahara declined further comment. When asked following that meeting if her call to police was related to the council, she said it did not pertain to “council work.”

The “incident daily bulletin” provided by the Kaua‘i Police Department to The Garden Island shows an incident reported at 7:18 p.m. on July 22 at Rice Street.

The offense is described as “harassment,” a petty misdemeanor that could involve strikes, shoves, kicks, or other offensive physical contact, insults, taunts, or challenges in a manner likely to provoke an immediate violent response, repeated communications after being advised that further communication is unwelcome, or communication using offensively coarse language, according to the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes."