Thursday, March 24, 2011

LIKE A VIRGIN

LIKE A VIRGIN: Like the butcher who backed into the meat slicer we've been getting a little behind in our work (okay they all can't be gems... or even non eye-rollers) so we were catching up on the March 16 Council Committee of the Whole meeting last night and perusing the discussion of the new council rules that have been proposed by the Rules Subcommittee with Chair Councilperson JoAnn Yukimura going over some of the proposals.

And to no one's surprise, instead of increasing transparency and public participation the proposal goes in quite the opposite direction.

There is no provision for a much discussed period at each meeting for the public to bring non-agenda items to the council's attention- something that other island councils routinely do ever since the practice was okayed by the Office of Information Practices (OIP) with the provision that councilmembers themselves may not talk about any topics the public may introduce.

And of course instead of considering our suggestion that all agenda items be read aloud- including those informational communications usually coming from the administration that are simply "for receipt"- they are hell bent on further opaqueness in creating a "consent calendar" whereby those items are lumped together for one big vote on all of them, leaving the TV and on-line viewing public in the dark and those that do come to the meeting having to wave frantically and beg to speak on those agenda items.

But a strange little item pressed for by non-subcommittee member Councilperson Tim Bynum- who was the one who pushed for rule revisions in the first place- was what caught our ear.

It involves one of the two provisions related to the release of county attorney (CA) opinions which were not okayed by the subcommittee. The first would have set up a process for releasing county attorney opinions on subjects of law by a 2/3 vote, finally providing a process for CA opinion releases after the council has used the excuse of not having any official procedure to refuse to release any county attorney opinions at all.

But the one that left us shaking our head concerned opinions of law that are requested by individual councilmembers before legislation comes before the body and called for them to be automatically released to all other councilmembers when the matter hits the council table.

At first the talk centered around who the "client" was and other seemingly extraneous issues with Councilperson Mel Rapozo saying that if he was the client asking for the opinion why should his confidentiality be automatically violated, adding that he didn't even think it was legal to do so.

But when emerging political climber Councilmember Derek Kawakami spoke the real core of the matter- and the reason why, as a subcommittee member, he had vehemently opposed it- suddenly emerged.

Kawakami is known among his associates as the kind of politician's politician whose first response to an issue is not "how does this effect the public?" but "how does this effect my political career?" And after echoing Rapozo's apprehensions he ended his comment with a rather telling interjection saying "This IS politics."

And suddenly it became crystal clear what Kawakami had against letting other councilmembers in on a county attorney opinion on the law after he had requested it.

If you're asking about the legalities of an upcoming bill or resolution it usually means you are planning how and whether you can do whatever it is you're planning to do. But what if you get an answer that you didn't want- one that would make it difficult or even impossible to get your way on the legislation?

Naturally if you had the interest of the public in mind you'd want to alert the other councilmembers- and the public- to the legal ramification. But if your own political machination were of prime concern you might want to hide that legal opinion and go ahead with your plans for whatever it is you have up your sleeve.

In other words, if other councilmember- or member of the public- aren't smart enough or unable to articulate or even ask, the right legal questions- well, screw 'em.

And that is sooooo Kawakami.... all except for slipping up and saying it out loud.

Imagine that- the legislative scion who can't even hide from the public his covetousness of the now open north shore state representative seat made a sophomore mistake.

Our advice? Brush up on your Machiavelli, Derek- you'll need it some day when you join all the other hacks in Honolulu.

3 comments:

Belisa said...
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Belisa said...
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Belisa said...

How do you feel about a voting boatd member being subjected to position (1 of the 3 appointed to Abercrombie for district 14 rep)
Aka- Foster Ducker