Wednesday, December 23, 2009


SNIFFIN’ IT OUT: For the neophyte, reading the county charter is a MEGO (my eyes glaze over) experience. But once the committed nitpicker reads it and then attends or even just watches council and/or board and commission meetings for a while it can be cause for a lightbulb-going-on flashback.

So it was that our friend Rob Abrew- who has exposed quite a few irregularities recently- came across a passage that may be applicable, especially of late.

Here’s his testimony to the council regarding the slew of board and commission nominees they have been asked to confirm lately.

Aloha Council Members

Today we are here to review the Mayors selected applicants to become members of various Boards and Commissions of the County of Kauai. Many of the applicants before you, you all ready know as friends, business associates and fine citizens of the County of Kauai. This process is not about judging these fine citizens as members of the community, but do these recommend appointments follow the process as stated in The County of Kauai Charter as approved by the citizens.

Section 23.02 Boards and Commissions

This section of the Charter lets us know how the Mayor appoints the applicants and how the Council approves this appointment.

In my opinion only two items would be need to reviewed by the Council in order for the applicant to be approved.

These two requirements would be :

23.02 D Each commissioner shall be, at the time of his appointment, a duly qualified resident elector of the county.

It is my understanding that the applicant tells us this on the form submitted to you for review

23.02 E No more than a bare majority of the members of any board or commission shall belong to the same political party.

It is also my understanding that the application asks the applicant if they are a member of a political party.

In C2009-393 received in the County Clerk's office on 12/04/2009 from the Mayor via John Isobe,

Executive Assistant, asks for the Council's favorable consideration and conformation of the following appointments to various Boards and Commissions. At the end of the communication Mr. Isobe states that the application forms are attached.

I believe the application would give the Council some of the information needed to assure that the applicant meets the requirements that the Charter asks for but, the communication does not give the Council the information as need in 23.02 E ….the political make up of the various Board or Commission.

If the applicant in their application tells the Council they are a member of a political party, how would the Council know, if they approve the applicant they would not violate section 23.02 E of the charter.?

I have looked for a public document that shows the public the political make up of the various Boards and Commissions. I have not found any document here today that would give the Council and the public the information needed to approve an applicant that tells us they are a member of a political party. Please request all the information needed to move the applicants forward in a timely matter.

Many discussions in the public lately has been about the way our county government functions and how separation of powers are necessary. The issue before you today is a perfect example of how a check and balance form of government works.

Mahalo for you time

Rob Abrew

Abrew was instrumental in instigating the recent compliance with the law by Isobe and the Board of Ethics in releasing the public disclosure statements filed by prospective B&C members. The release of them was actuated through a filing by reporter Mike Levine who has posted them as they are received at the web site of the local newspaper.

As some may know, membership in a political party in Hawai`i is strictly the province of the party itself and very few people actually join parties by “signing a card”. So not only was the information hard or impossible to obtain in the past but the chances that “a bare majority” of a board or commission would come from one party was probably slim or none.

But last year when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were battling it out for the Democratic nomination for president the Democratic Party signed up tens of thousands of new members statewide, with membership being a prerequisite for voting in their “primary”- which was actually just a poorly conducted internal party function not affiliated with the state elections.

We don’t have the information yet but it should be interesting to see whether any of the boards and commissions have more than a bare majority that are members of the newly expanded Democratic party.

One of the problems might be verifying with the party whether they are or are not actually members. There’s no law that we know of that they must disclose their list. But since supplying false information on the application is a criminal offense we would expect- even if we wouldn’t assume- the applicants to be truthful.

We’ll keep you up on Abrew’s latest quest. But knowing the administration’s response to these kinds of things- we can only imagine what kind of naked dodge the county attorney might come up with in defining “bare majority”- we expect it to be anything but a walk in the park.

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