Wednesday, June 30, 2010


WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU: We’re still not ready to support- or oppose for that matter- any “county manager” proposal but one thing that was said at the televised “meeting on wheels” of the Charter Review Commission’s Special Committee on County Governance held in Hanalei recently caused us to go back to the drawing board- not only ours but theirs.

That’s because it made us question the legality of the “current” document.

We had received a copy of the latest iteration penned by retired Princeville attorney Walter Lewis- who still refuses to disclose his involvement in the drafting of the proposed charter amendment in his columns in the local paper on the subject- and were all ready to declare it not ready for prime time due to, if nothing else, its legally sloppy nature, leaving many “new” sections in conflict with the remaining portions of the charter

But that may not matter because according a statement made at the meeting by our friend, one of the three committee members, Jan Tenbruggencate:

“We as a committee sat down after receiving the proposed document from the ad hoc committee and we reviewed the charter from beginning to end and made numerous changes to what was proposed.”

Other than causing us to have to go back and read the “new” proposal
before we open our trap it brings up a matter we’d have thought Jan would have considered before, as a duly selected member of a government board, he and the committee apparently went behind closed doors to do the work of the committee.

Although the section of the web site dedicated to the committee doesn’t list agendas for open meetings of the committee we’re pretty sure that the confab where this work was done was not open to the public.

And that would make it a blatant violation of the state open meetings or “sunshine” law.

According to HRS 92-2.5 Permitted Interactions Of Members

(b) Two or more members of a board, but less than the number of members which would constitute a quorum for the board, may be assigned to:
(1) Investigate a matter relating to the official business of their board; provided that:
(A) The scope of the investigation and the scope of each member's authority are defined at a meeting of the board;
(B) All resulting findings and recommendations are presented to the board at a meeting of the board

So far so good. The committee is permitted to do this kind of fact finding. But the next provisions looks bad for compliance with the sunshine law

(C) Deliberation and decisionmaking on the matter investigated, if any, occurs only at a duly noticed meeting of the board held subsequent to the meeting at which the findings and recommendations of the investigation were presented to the board

Any meeting of a board in the state or county must be open to the public with the exception of matters listed under eight provisions under HRS 92-5. But drafting a proposed document- even if by an “advisory” board- is not included in those exemptions.

One person can do it- arguably two. But not three.

The “last” charter commission- the one that in 2006 proposed a list of amendments as part of the “every 10 years” provision in the charter, including one creating the current semi-permanent commission lasting 10 years- did all their work at meetings open to the public.

They had a special appropriation from the council that allowed them to hire an attorney specifically to write up any proposed charter amendments and then they deliberated upon those in open session.

We’d have though Tenbruggencate would know better having been a staunch defender of the sunshine law throughout his career as the Kaua`i Bureau Chief of the Honolulu Advertiser. And perhaps somehow we missed it and the meeting at which they drafted the ‘new” proposal- which we will read and review soon- was duly agendaed and open to the public.

But we suspect that this was a well intentioned oversight that will have to be remedied to be in compliance with state law.


We’ll be traveling into the belly of the beast tomorrow and actually be appearing on “community radio” station KKCR on Jonathan Jay’s program at 4 p.m. as part of a series of interviews he’s been doing on media on Kaua`i.

We have been assured that we will be allowed to discuss anything we want to including, in that context, our thoughts on KKCR itself although we don’t expect to dwell on it.

We’ll be taking calls so if anyone has questions as to local media or county government and issues before the council and/or administration- as well as the history behind them- we’ll be glad to answer them- assuming we know.

We may get to post tomorrow but will not on Friday. If we get busy tomorrow with other things, we’ll see ya Monday.

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