Monday, December 20, 2010


AT THE ZOO: Last Wednesday’s meeting was the first time to observe the new council in their habitat giving the zoologically inclined an opportunity to observe and interpret the various grunts and howls for their significance.

But while furloughs and millions in new appropriations caught the attention of many, real sociologic researchers need only to turn to the discussion of a “resolution (#2010-39) to establish a policy for facilitating open governance and internet access to public documents” for a case study.

When the rebellious male Tim Bynum first introduced it five months ago on July 14 it seemed like a no brainer to the untrained eye. It was simply a policy statement supporting the already bought-and-paid-for contract with a third party provider that would web cast council meetings and post on-line all the pertinent documents including agendas with related attachments, the full text of introduced bills and resolutions, updated “draft” versions of bills after amendments, along with committee reports and minutes- all linked, item by item, to the video web casts.

But the majority- which included the alpha male, departed Chair Kaipo Asing and his “enforcer” Darryl Kaneshiro along with the young and ascendant male Derek Kawakami- routed the measure saying that, with county “furloughs” the staff wasn’t going to be able to handle al the “extra work”... and besides, why pass a resolution if we were already doing it?

To the surprise of few, if any, they didn’t.

But now that furloughs are ending and meetings are finally being web cast- although we still couldn’t get them last week despite downloading update versions and performing trouble shooting settings- the time to set the policy seemed ripe.

Or maybe not.

The self described troublemaker had now returned to the tribe and was ready to be true to that moniker by asking why we needed a resolution for something we were doing already... this for a council that has successfully delayed, deferred and defeated attempts to move into the information age for years... and from a council that would probably routinely approve a resolution supporting the policy of using toilet paper if a political ally introduced it.

But the new group had chosen the more experienced dominant elder rather than the latest alpha male as their leader so when Jay Furfaro prepared a 17-page draft memo in collaboration with the county clerk- who together lord over the non-dominant females (council staff)- detailing how it would be done, Kawakami was left with only Rapozo to support his straw-grasping “we’re already doing it so why do we need a reso” obstruction.

And when Dickie Chang- the goofy young male that they keep around for entertainment- sided as he usually does with the elder Furfaro it looked like a majority on the measure was forming.

The returning matriarch JoAnn Yukimura- who has so-far been protective of the rebel Bynum and loves policy resolutions to begin with- had earlier indicated her support.

So that left the new heavily face-painted female from previously unknown realms to assert herself in her first session with the group.

And so Nadine Nakamura finally revealed what kind of councilmember she will be.

The resolution begins with, as they tend to do, a bunch of “Whereas” this and “Whereas” that, the first of which, as you’d expect in a resolution concerning open and transparent government, are identical to the very first words of the state’s sunshine law:

In a democracy, the people are vested with the ultimate decision-making power.

But for some reason these words- which are considered fundamental to the law and are commonly cited in court cases and in studies proclaiming the Hawai`i Sunshine law itself (if not the execution of it) one of the best in the country- offended Nakamura.

She offered an amendment removing those words because “we’re in a representative democracy and the people have elected representatives who are vested with the power to make decisions on their part.”

It hard to even fathom what Nakamura must think in striking at the heart of democracy. Perhaps she’s enamored of substituting a classic small “r” republican argument for a small “d” democratic one.

Even though the sunshine law’s passage is essentially correct in saying that “people are vested with the ULTIMATE decision-making power (emphasis added)” she felt the need to make her presence known and raise a bunch of gorilla dust in asserting that, now that she is a “member” of the clan, SHE has “the power to make decisions on (our) part.”

We suppose it was really attempt to assert herself with the exercise of some power in her first meeting by adding something to something that was going on that day.

Rather than confront a potential ally on this- and possibly prejudice Nakamura’s support in future measures- even though they had the majority for this specific vote already, Bynum and Yukimura made the politically wise decision to sit there silently and "ultimately” vote for Nakamura’s amendment... although you could practically hear their internal shrieking through the TV set.

All in all the observation team came away excited to have observed the new dynamic after the November battle that caused one to be thrown out, one to ascend, two to run away, two to come back, one to join and one to bide his time.

It promises to be a fruitful research year- and a fascinating one to boot.

1 comment:

Wagner said...

"So that left the new heavily face-painted female" . . . the old being Lani Kawahara, right?