Monday, January 10, 2011


AND HILARITY ENSUED: Boy are we gonna have fun for the next two years if last Wednesday’s first council confab- and the local newspaper’s Leo Azambuja’s coverage of them- is any indication.

The committee meetings’ business included the long-delayed establishment of two sub-committees to review the council rules and look at human resources.

We’ll get to the personnel committee later because we have to lead off with returning babooze-in-chief Mel Rapozo and his first of what promises to be many “open mouth-insert foot” moments followed by an attempt to remove said appendage which only to wedges it in there more securely.

Rapozo was apparently taking his time in trying to make the point that the council seems have trouble following its own rules and was complaining that the rules (actually Rule 6F under Motions) say that “no member may speak longer than five minutes.”

So wise-acre Azambuja wrote:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Councilman Mel Rapozo, explaining that he feels that the rules are efficient and the problem lies in the council not following its own rules.

Rapozo said the structure of the state Legislature and other county councils is “impressive.”

“We’ve left that, we’ve departed that,” he said. “I’m hoping that we can bring that back, the decorum and the professionalism that this office and these chambers deserve.”

Rapozo, however, ended breaking one of the rules by speaking for seven minutes, right after criticizing council members for breaking the same rule. The rules allow council members to speak for five minutes on a given subject.

Actually an examination of the meeting shows it was six minutes and nine seconds- but who’s counting?... oh yeah, everybody.

Anyway Rapozo decided to respond and wrote in the “comments” section of the newspaper article:

Mr. Azambuja, if you are going to report on the Council meetings, please be fair and accurate. In your article, you stated,

"Rapozo, however, ended breaking one of the rules by speaking for seven minutes, right after criticizing council members for breaking the same rule. The rules allow council members to speak for five minutes on a given subject.

"If you were paying attention, you would have known that the rules allow council members to speak for 10 minutes on any given subject, not five as you reported. This is another example of how your paper misinforms the public at the expense of others. Don't even bother putting in a correction. I think the people have come to learn that the stories in the Garden Island must be validated by independent sources.

Problem is that Azambuja apparently was paying attention- to Rapozo. The words “10 minutes” never left Rapozo’s mouth while “five minutes” was repeated over and over.

Then, 52 minutes after leaving his comment and after a couple of other comments expressing confusion- and perhaps after remembering what he had actually said at the meeting- Rapozo attempted to explain that:

The rule states that council members have two (2) opportunities to speak, at five (5) minutes each. However, the Chair can allow the member to use all 10 minutes during one presentation. Thanks for the question. Great observation. If anyone wants a copy of our Council Rules, email me at mfrapozo (at) and I will email you a copy of them. Thanks again.

The problem for Mr. “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is that, while the two opportunities at five minutes is sort of in the rules- they mention two opportunities but don’t say “at five minutes apiece”- the use all 10 minutes at once is not.

The actual Kauai County Council Rules state that:

No member may speak longer than five minutes, nor may a member speak more than twice on the same question without leave of the Presiding Officer, subject to an appeal to the body, unless the member is the maker of the motion or sponsor of the matter pending, in which case the member may speak in reply, but not until every other member choosing to speak has spoken.

Not only doesn’t it say that you can combine them but it doesn’t really say how long any second chance might be- an indication that the rule needs to be clarified and thus is, in fact “broken.”

The “custom” of allowing members of the public to take their two chances of three minutes as one six minute chance to speak (but only if there are few others waiting) is not a part of the rules but was a practice that Chair Kaipo Asing instituted a few years back.

Rapozo also did explain not when or how, if the five minute rule had “never been enforced” as he said, the chair might have employed this rule that doesn’t exist and was never used.

But Rapozo was adamant at the meeting that the council follow the rules- especially the “point of order” rule.

But it became apparent that Rapozo has the same misconception as many others as to what “point of order” really is or when it can be used to interrupt the proceedings.

When it was Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura’s turn to talk she mentioned that the rules call for a majority of all members to vote for something in order for it to be considered passed. But then she added something about how that should have been the case in the recent controversy over the evaluation and subsequent pay raise for the county clerk, which was done unilaterally by Asing without council approval.

That caused Rapozo to blow his top and shout “that’s a point of order” saying that “we’re talking about a resolution” implying he thought it was off subject.

But in order to call a “point of order” it must relate to a matter of parliamentary “order”- as in Roberts Rules of Order.

It means that the person is alleging that the chair or parliamentarian has erred in applying something contained in the parliamentary guidebook. It not to be used for instances when you disagree with the speaker or if you think it’s off subject- the latter being a matter of the Sunshine Law which prohibits councilmembers from speaking on matters not on the agenda... something that’s usually a judgment call of the chair.

As a matter of fact, it is a violation of “order” to yell “point of order” if, in fact, your objection is not a “point of order.”

But Rapozo wasn’t the only one that was in rare form.

Perhaps the most bizarre statement of the day came from Chair Jay Furfaro regarding finally getting council documents posted on the county’s web site, especially the bills, resolutions and communications- along with the appropriate paperwork- which now requires a weekly trip to Lihu`e to acquire... in hard copy form.

Somehow, even though the material is routinely compiled and sits in a folder behind the counter at council services- and even though, according to council services staff their current “all the bells and whistles” copying machine can scan and post documents on-line automatically, Furfaro said:

“We will have a new position, especially as it deals with the effort we’re putting into documents getting onto the web for pre-meeting information to the public. That would be a new position.”

How the heck this takes a whole new position is beyond us. The question has to be asked if this is just a big waste of money in order to justify the literally years it’s taken to get this simple matter accomplished- a justification that has been based on how hard it is to do, without detailed explanation.

The best we’ve gotten is that they must make sure that they are indeed “public” documents before posting them. But they must do the same thing now when they hand them out over the counter.

If they really think it’s going to take that much staff time perhaps it is appropriate to have the new Human Resources (HR) Subcommittee look into policy and practices even though three councilmembers- Rapozo, Derek Kawakami and another whom we couldn’t identify- objected to an amendment adding that task to the subcommittee’s charge on Wednesday.

The biggest problem with the HR subcommittee is that apparently they won’t be looking into the matter of staff allocation and the current set-up that provides zero staff for individual members and rather gives the chair total control over allotments of staff time.

It promises to be a great year; we’re planning on adding a laugh track.

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