Letters for Wednesday, October 1, 2008

• Better informed citizens?

• Dated dog ordinance


Better informed citizens?

Glenn Mickens’ Sept. 28 letter (“Council realizing importance of informed citizens”) assumes that Bill 2288, which requires the county attorney to release opinions on questions of law, would have the desired effect of allowing “increased public awareness of the factors that shape our council’s decisions.” Is the assumption valid?

The bill has passed a routine first reading, but it remains to be seen if the council will enact it as an ordinance. What we can be certain about at this point is that the decision to propose the bill and the final decision about the bill represent political decisions, not sound legislative thinking.

The bill arises from a power struggle within the council about releasing one or more opinions on questions of law. The council already has the authority and responsibility for releasing the opinions, but chairman Asing refused to allow the matter to be placed on the agenda. After Asing moved to the mayor’s office this bill was introduced.

The question is, why this bill rather than a motion calling for the council to release the opinions? The council has stalled for months on this question based on the astounding claim that the council lacks a policy governing the release of opinions even though it has had 40 years to create a policy. To me, the proof that this is a red herring is the fact that in 2003, I was handed an opinion after the council decided in executive session to release the opinion.  In other words, it is not lack of a policy but an unresolved disagreement and conflict within the council that has prevented the council from releasing opinions in this case.

The bill unloads the council’s responsibility for releasing opinions on the county attorney’s office, but it will not lead to the release of opinions that Mickens has recently badgered the council about. It allows the council to duck its responsibility, but it will not increase public awareness. Rather, it allows the whole issue to disappear in a black hole, with the public having less chance of knowing that an opinion even exists or knowing the basis on which the attorney decides to release or not release an opinion.

I support the intention of the bill to increase transparency in government. However, I believe it would simply heighten conflict, frustration and confusion without changing the status quo. From that perspective the bill’s ultimate fate is almost irrelevant. The bottom line for me is that I oppose the bill because I hate to see one more piece of flawed legislation added to our governing documents.

Horace Stoessel

Kapa‘a


Dated dog ordinance

Monday, March 17, 1975

Suggested ordinance for ‘dog control’

A COMPREHENSIVE ORDINANCE BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF KAUA‘I

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF KAUA‘I, STATE OF HAWAI‘I

Section 1. Purpose. The council finds that in recent years man’s best friend, the dog, has strained the bonds of friendship. They have roamed more than the buffalos roamed, but have evoked nothing but discouraging words. They have knocked over trash cans. They have left the residue of their digestive processes for the unerring foot of man. Most unforgivable of all, they have bitten campaigning politicians without regard to party affiliation or respect of office. The purpose of this ordinance is to regulate the dog to a truly dog’s life.

Section 2. Restriction on numbers. No person over 18 years of age shall own a dog. Nothing herein contained shall prohibit a dog from owning a a person over 18 years of age. Any person below 18 years of age may own one dog over 50 pounds in weight or two dogs weighing less than 25 pounds each; provided that where two dogs are kept both shall be of the same sex.

Section 3. Confinement of dogs. No dogs shall during the day stray more than 500 yards, as the crow flies, from its owner’s premises. Leashes of greater length shall be illegal.

Section 4. Segregation. Different breeds of dogs shall be paired in conformance to the current international situation. Irish setters shall not be confined with English Bulldogs. Pekinese shall not be confined with Russian wolfhounds. A limited confinement may be had of schnauzers and poodles. Poi dogs may be confined with any other breed.

Section 5. Dog bites. The universal rule that every dog is entitled to one bite is hereby repealed . No dog shall bite any candidate engaged in campaigning. Biting of any candidate advocating dog control shall be deemed malicious and a Class B misdemeanor. Biting of meter readers and postmen shall constitute Class C misdemeanors.

Section 6. Nocturnal pursuits. In addition to every dog having its day, every dog shall have its night. All dogs shall be permitted to stray at large one night a week. Baying at the moon solo, duet, a cappella or accompanying instruments shall be strictly prohibited.

Section 7. Sanitation. No dog shall stray at large without the attendance of a sanitation engineer, preferably its owner. Irrigation or fertilization of premises, other than its owner’s, without a permit from the Department of Health is a Class C misdemeanor.

Section 8. Penalties. Any dog convicted of a Class B misdemeanor shall be sent to obedience school for 90 days, for a Class C misdemeanor for 60 days. Any owner convicted of any violation of this ordinance shall occupy its dog’s residence during its attendance at obedience school.

Section 9. This ordinance shall take effect as of April 1, 1975.

Editor’s note: The above commentary was an opinion piece that ran in The Garden Island in March of 1975 and was resubmitted to TGI by Morris Shinsato of Lihu‘e. The title of the piece indicates it is a County Council ordinance. It is not, and was created solely in the mind of the writer. Also, note the date the ordinance was to take effect at the conclusion.

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