Tuesday, December 7, 2010


HOW MANY TIMES CAN A MAN TURN HIS HEAD?: With a change at the top of the Kaua`i County Council many are looking forward to a change in the way the council treats the open meetings and access to documents demanded in the state’s Sunshine Law now that Kaipo Asing isn’t a barrier of impediment any more.

But while Asing apparently understood the law and was crafty and cunning enough to evade compliance, as we’ve demonstrated over and over in this space new Chair Jay Furfaro appears to be completely befuddled by it.

For those awaiting the reforms that transparency and Sunshine advocates Lani Kawahara and Tim Bynum fought for last year it may be a long wait as the December deadline for getting live streaming of council meetings up on line without any apparent changes at the county’s web site.

And don’t hold your breath that once the stated mid-December deadline for dealing with firing up the already paid for, fancy-schmancy “all access” page that will apparently include attached public record documents for agenda items with links, item by item, to appropriate segments of the archived video.

But one issue pushed by current Councilperson Bynum and the departed Kawahara- a review of the antiquated council rules that Asing used to block items proposed by councilmembers from the agenda- is apparently underway, according a statement by Furfaro at the inaugural meeting, with the institution of a rules review committee in the offing.

The first problem is that the Sunshine challenged Furfaro wants to be what he termed one of two permitted councilmembers on that committee.

And as if to show his inability to decipher the simple concepts and specifics in the Sunshine Law, at the meeting he proposed a change in the way the chair will treat communications, bills and resolutions proposed by individual councilpersons.

But rather than adding a clarifying statement to the rules simply eliminating the chair’s ability to use the need for his or her “initialing” of agenda items to block legislation, Furfaro proposed that it there be at least two councilmembers to get a matter on the agenda.

Furfaro explained that since two people can discuss a matter before it is taken up at an official meeting it should be easy enough for one member to find someone else to request an item be placed on the table.

But again, Furfaro’s inability to understand the “prohibited interactions” section of HRS 92- which include a ban on using “serial communications” to get around the prohibitions- has resulted in a proposal that promotes violations of, not just the spirit but, the letter of the law.

Stating it simply, if a member approaches another member to sign on to support the measure, that is in and of itself a violation of the prohibition of a commitment to- or solicitation of- a vote no matter how many people are involved.

But, while that may it a gray area as to what a commitment to vote actually means, even more absurd is the fact that, if the second person refuses to support placing the matter on the agenda, the proposer is s**t outta luck because he or she has used up the “one person” with whom the matter can be discussed.

The simple way to deal with all this as a councilperson is of course to stop discussing matters with other councilmembers before they hit the council floor. That’s the overriding concept in the Sunshine Law that Furfaro either refuses to acknowledge or simply can’t comprehend for some reason.

Furfaro’s bafflement at the concept is rooted in the same kind of paternalism and need for secrecy to avoid political embarrassment that former Chair Asing used as an excuse to maintain the opaque system of back room deals that has been the signature of Kaua`i council politics for generations.

Though Furfaro’s confusion has seemed genuine and at times quaintly funny in the past, with his ascension to chair “pretending he just doesn’t see” is getting really old, really fast and, with time, has gotten to be tedious and, more and more, a disingenuous juvenile response to being told that he can’t keep playing with that toy that way any more.


Unknown said...

At this rate, Joan will never be able to turn her comments back on.

Blahblahblah said...

How can she see comments with her head up her ass anyway?

She's discovered a variant of the ad hom attack. She just attacks any idea or fact put forward by those she's currently unhappy with.

And there's always a segue back to the birds when the temps get a little high.

Unknown said...

Joan said: in terms of Tim's allegations about "missing" Council documents, both he and I know that the official record is intact.

Here's what Tim wrote:

When Council members sought electronic minutes of Council meetings, the Clerk informed Council members in writing that he “had difficulty locating electronic copies of Council meeting minutes” and that “extensive agency efforts have been required to search for and prepare the records for copying.”

Tim never said anything about "missing Counsel documents." That's her misreporting the facts in her ongoing effort to slime Tim. Tim was clearly and unequivocally expressing a concern over the intolerable probability that records are not being stored electronically. If that's the case, in this day and age whoever is in charge of records ought to be fired.

Andy Parx said...

In case you hadn't noticed this is not Joan's blog nor is it the place for comments she has deleted.

Thank you