Wednesday, May 18, 2022 |
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•Should policy opinions be in the mix? •The case of the purloined provision
Should policy opinions be in the mix?
I am very pleased that Mr. Glenn Mickens has chosen to voice a response to my letters which “persist … in looking for reasons for Kaua‘i to change to a council-manager system” (“It could be better,” Letters, Dec. 22).
I am proud to say that I am not alone in this “persistence.” Mr. Mickens, who describes the Charter Review Commission as having “lazily chosen not to examine” the data that has been presented to it, overlooks or ignores the CRC’s request or condition appearing in its “Report on Findings and Recommendations,” dated Nov. 23, which reads:
“The proponents for a county-manager system need to identify specific concerns about the current system of government they want addressed.”
Would not “specific concerns” as requested contribute to a well-informed approach for the CRC to come up with the county-manager system you ask them to produce and, more importantly, for the voters to make an intelligent decision if the question is put to them?
And, yes, I should, as you suggest, go back and review the data that has already been submitted to satisfy my “persistence.” I admit to choosing the “lazy” way by asking the proponents to commit their specific reasons for change in writing in the only media we have on Kaua‘i. So far, there has been no contribution or identification of structural deficiencies in our current government which impedes the efficiency or effectiveness of our government.
The County Attorney’s Office comes in for criticism because of its “obvious bias” in rendering its legal opinion and providing a “policy opinion” on the merits of a council-manager system. It should be made clear that the “policy opinion” was submitted pursuant to a “Request made to this office to offer guidance regarding amending the Charter to allow a county-manager form of government…” It was not gratuitously given. It was solicited by CRC.
Question for Mr. Mickens or other proponents of the council-manager system: Is it your contention that input into this question should be limited to experts, editorials, column-writers, letters to the editor, et cetera, but that policy opinions from the county attorney, when properly solicited, should not be considered in the mix of opinions?
Assuming the county attorney’s opinion was favorable to the adoption of a county-manager system for Kaua‘i, would you not raise the flag and use it in support of your advocacy?
Alfred Laureta, Lihu‘e
The case of the purloined provision
Almost two years ago the Board of Ethics and the County Attorney’s Office jointly stole Charter Section 20.02D, and I want it returned because the charter is our local governing document.
The perpetrators appeared to be on the verge of returning the purloined provision to its rightful place in the charter at the board’s December meeting. The agenda included “Deliberation and possible decision-making on Interpretative Rule in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act.”
In October Mona Clark, the deputy attorney assigned to the board, had advised members that the proper procedure for adopting guidelines to administer 20.02D would be to adopt an interpretive rule.
Accordingly, the board was presented in December with a viable proposal which would have cleared the way for responsibly administering 20.02D if it had been adopted. It consists essentially of interpretations of three terms in 20.02D: “appear,” “in behalf of” and “private interests.”
With no explanation offered to the board or the public for her absence from the December meeting, Clark was replaced by Deputy Mauna Kea Trask. It soon became clear that his mission was to subvert the interpretive rule.
Trask told the board the best way to proceed would be to ask the council to pass an ordinance, claiming that if the board adopted an interpretive rule it would be vulnerable to a charge of usurping the authority of the council. He cited Charter Section 20.04D, which instructs the council to adopt “such complementary provisions as may be necessary to supplement the code of ethics.”
Trask’s argument turns the facts upside down. Ordinances can only supplement the charter, not interpret it, and the board can only interpret the charter, not supplement it. There is no way the council can accomplish the purpose of the interpretive rule by ordinance.
The proposed interpretive rule accords with the board’s authority to administer the Code of Ethics, and the board has firm ground for heeding Clark’s advice. It can reassert its intention to adopt an interpretive rule in January, leaving it to the county attorney to explain the belated move to undermine Clark’s sound advice and the board’s authority to interpret the charter.
Horace Stoessel, Kapa’a
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