Letters for Wednesday, November 26, 2008

• Council meeting lacked aloha

• Marriott’s ‘minor one’

• Travesty, ineptitude and dysfunction

Council meeting lacked aloha

How unfortunate and sad for all of us that the organizing meeting for our new council seemed so lacking of “lokahi” (unity expressed with harmony) and “akahai” (kindness) and “aloha” (love and consideration for each other).

The method of selecting its leaders and making committee assignments used on Tuesday was “old”: whoever gets four votes controls the show, the minority be damned. Hopefully that is not the sign of things to come because such a method will not make for the best public interest decisions. Nor does it reflect aloha.

There is another way. The newly elected council could have gathered around the table with a temporary chair. The temporary chair could have opened the nominations for chair of the council. Each person who wanted to be chair could have stated why they wanted to be chair and what they would do, if elected. Council members could have asked questions of the candidates for chair, asking about how, if elected chair, the candidates would conduct business, treat the minorities, allow for information flow between staff and council members and from council services to the public. Then the council could have voted for the chair. The result in terms of who was selected chair might have been the same as Tuesday’s meeting, but what a difference there would have been in feelings and relationships.

The same goes for committee assignments. Each councilmember could have stated which committee s/he wanted to chair and why, what s/he hoped to accomplish as chair and why s/he felt most qualified. Perhaps committee structure could then have been altered so everyone could have gotten his or her choice. Where there were two vying for the same committee, whether for chair or for membership, that could have been decided by majority vote or accommodation.

When councilmember Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho was a brand new member of the council, the chair-to-be tried to organize among the “senior” members (everyone who had already served on the council) first. I said we should consider councilmember Iseri-Carvalho’s desires as well. When we found out that she wanted to be on the Planning Committee, councilmember Rapozo graciously gave up his membership on the Planning Committee to allow her to be a member.

There are many ways to decide who will chair and sit on committees. The way that accomplishes that goal with the greatest aloha would be the way to try first because it gives equal respect to all members — who deserve equal respect.

This would establish a wonderful beginning for the new council we elected to make good decisions on behalf of our community.

• JoAnn Yukimura, Lihu‘e

Marriott’s ‘minor one’

The Saturday, Nov. 22 news article, “Marriott states building stop merely a schedule revision,” states, “‘Marriott representatives expressed little concern over their change in schedule,’ Director of Sales James Barry said. ‘The revision is a minor one.’”

A minor one?

This schedule revision may have been minor to you, Mr. Barry, but for the people involved in the construction of the project, it is far from minor. For the contractors and employees who made commitments to the project, turned down other work, planned for this work to continue well into 2009, and expected to provide jobs that would support local families, this is not minor.

To many who were on this project, what this means is layoffs, higher unemployment and jeopardizing the stability of small businesses that have been part of this community for years. I do not consider that to be minor.

Tell those going into the unemployment line, right before the holidays, how minor this is — stopping a project while in various stages of completion.

Marriott has been a good neighbor and a positive part of this community. I do not believe that Marriott’s construction group shares in Mr. Barry’s opinion. This has been a blow to all those involved in the construction and we are hopeful for completion of this project in the very near future.

• Norbert Fahler, Lihu‘e

Travesty, ineptitude and dysfunction

This letter should be read in conjunction with Luke Shanahan’s excellent report on Monday’s 2 p.m. council meeting (“First council meeting a little rocky,” A1, Nov. 25). My wife and I chose to bypass that meeting and attend the Charter Commission’s 4 p.m. meeting.

Travesty is the first word that comes to mind when reading about proceedings at the council, while “inept” and “dysfunctional” most aptly describe the commission meeting. May we assume that the two meetings are harbingers of the future?

The commission managed to muster a quorum for about an hour. While awaiting a quorum, the chairman allowed expressions of appreciation for Commissioner Walter Briant who died last week and who labored mightily during the past year to bring a county manager proposal before the voters.

After officially convening the commission managed to take two actions — approve the agenda and a set of minutes. In the end the meeting fizzled out when the departure of one member left the commission without a quorum and without the ability even to pass a motion to adjourn.

The commission failed to elect a new chair and vice-chair, leaving chairman Jonathan Chun, who by charter should have been replaced in September, to extend his illegal tenure.  There was even a motion at one point to re-elect Chun as chair, an action that would have violated the charter as well, but the idea was nixed by advisers.

A “discussion” about a process for releasing county attorney opinions was designed to go nowhere and succeeded admirably as members of the commission and the public talked past each other about the obstacles created for the commission by the county attorney’s office.

A “discussion” about a process related to a county manager proposal was cut off in the middle of public comment when the commission lost its quorum and the meeting fizzled out.

The agenda listed a meeting of the commission for December and made room for commissioners to propose agenda items, but since the commission did not reach that point in its agenda no one could say what will happen next. Further clouding the picture is the fact that the terms of two members end in December and a replacement for Walter Briant must be appointed.

About 20 members of the public endured the proceedings.

• Horace Stoessel, Kapa‘a

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