Friday, December 10, 2010

PLAYIN’ THE FOOL

PLAYIN’ THE FOOL: Anyone who thought that a new era of transparency and sunshine was on the horizen for the county council need only have watched Wednesday’s meeting to have their hopes dashed.

New chair Jay Furfaro not only remains sunshine-law-challenged, as we detailed Tuesday, he apparently acknowledged it and proceeded to compound his lack of understanding by further limiting other councilmember’s options in introducing legislation.

As many remember, former chair Kaipo Asing was challenged in 2009 over his use of the council rules requiring his “initialing” of agenda items to block individual councilmembers’ access to the agenda.

And at the inaugural council meeting Furfaro announced that he would be glad to put anything on the agenda- as long as it was requested by TWO councilmembers, meaning if a councilperson approached another for support and the second one said “no” the sunshine law would prevent them from even asking a second member.

But now, after complaining that “the blogs” were saying he didn’t “get” the Sunshine Law Furfaro has decided that not only will it take two but the two must include the chair of the committee that would normally deal with the subject matter of the item.

Although there is supposedly going to be a “subcommittee” appointed to look at reviewing the antiquated council rules it doesn’t look good for councilmembers’ ability to get subjects on the agenda.

Part of the reason may be because it looks like newly-returned Councilmember Mel Rapozo appears to be picking up where the departed Darryl Kaneshiro left off as second-in-command for all matters defending the chair’s realm... no matter how contrived or absurd the proposition.

When the subject of the two conflicting rules came up- the one requiring “initialing” by the chair and another saying all councilmember can place anything on the agenda- Rapozo started in with a Kaneshiro-like argument asking “what if three councilmembers want five bills apiece” placed on this week’s agenda.

The chair’s ability to manage the agenda and wait a week or two to put something on of course has never really been in question, just his or her ability to forestall access indefinitely. A change in the rules stating that has been suggested for over a year-and-a half.

Another piece of evidence that the Sunshine Law is a joke under Furfaro occurred during a discussion of a directive from the Office of Information Practices (OIP) regarding participation of non-committee members at committee meetings.

Bear with us. The council usually has five members on each committee except for the Committee of the Whole which has all seven. But in a Maui case a couple of years back, the OIP said that non-committee members could not sit at the table- or even be in the room- much less speak at committee meetings.

They gave the council two choices as to what to do. They said you can either put all seven councilmembers on all committees or you can have the other two sit on the committees “ex-officio” meaning that they would sit without voting or introduction privileges but be allowed to speak.

And so an amendment to the rules was introduced to do the latter.

But during discussion Councilperson Tim Bynum explained that, although he favored the idea of having all seven on all committees the council had “decided” that it was better to go the “ex-officio” route.

Oh yeah? When exactly did the council “decide” this? In an open duly agendaed meeting as required by law? Or in some back room where such action is forbidden by HRS 92?

We gave credit to Furfaro- if you can call it that- for not being deviously manipulative of the Sunshine Law like his predecessor but rather simply genuinely confused.

But this is “see no evil, hear no evil” routine is gettin’ real old, real quick.

Pretty soon you’ve gotta start thinking “same labyrinth, new minotaur.”

3 comments:

Third eye said...

Jay Furafaro= Narcissist
Mel Rapozo= Incompetent former KPD officer
Derek Kawakami= Puppet
Dickie Chang= Wala au clown

Kauai's Good Ol Boyz club

Tim Bynum said...

The decision to use ex officio as a way to adress OIP opinion was made by the new Council in a open duly agendaed organizational meeting on Nov. 22nd.

Andy Parx said...

Thanks for the clarification Tim. But whether that meeting was truly a duly agendaed meeting is not really clear- it certainly wasn’t distributed as a normal meeting but simply rather posed on the wall. Was even filed with the LG? The OIP said it didn’t have to be duly agendaed, as you know. Which is why no one knew when that decision was made.

But over and above that, that decision was a matter of council rules- which are what was amended at last Wednesday’s meeting- as well as organizational and that would indeed be a sunshine violation if it occurred at one of these quasi-sunshined organizational meetings.

My point is really that when a question of adherence to the sunshine law comes up, it is the bent of Mr. Furfaro to err on the side of non-compliance.