Council to work on its manners

NAWILIWILI — The Kaua‘i County Council Committee of the Whole approved a resolution establishing a Rules Sub-Committee, bringing passionate discussion to the seven-member legislative body’s meeting this week.

The sub-committee will have 60 days from last Wednesday to review and recommend amendments, if necessary, to council rules.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura will be the chair of the sub-committee, and Council members Derek Kawakami and Nadine Nakamura will fill the remaining sub-committee positions.

Some council members did not agree that the rules should be revised. Instead, they should be followed more strictly.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Councilman Mel Rapozo, explaining that he feels that the rules are efficient and the problem lies in the council not following its own rules.

Rapozo said the structure of the state Legislature and other county councils is “impressive.”

“We’ve left that, we’ve departed that,” he said. “I’m hoping that we can bring that back, the decorum and the professionalism that this office and these chambers deserve.”

Rapozo, however, ended breaking one of the rules by speaking for seven minutes, right after criticizing council members for breaking the same rule. The rules allow council members to speak for five minutes on a given subject.

“Once we restore that decorum in these chambers we’re going to get a lot more done,” Rapozo said.

Yukimura took the opportunity to criticize the 2009 approval of a controversial pay raise for County Clerk Peter Yukimura.

“I just want to confirm what Mr. Rapozo says, that the council doesn’t always follow its rules,” Yukimura said. “It does appear that rule two, requiring a physical majority of the entire membership to take action, was not followed during the 2009 pay raise for the county clerk.”

Rapozo immediately interjected, arguing that Yukimura was taking the discussion out of context. “We’re talking about a resolution.”

When taking the floor after Yukimura, Bynum added more fuel to the discussion.

“One rule that was routinely — almost every single agenda item — violated since I’ve been on council, is that when one member has the floor, that member should keep the floor,” he said. “Interjections, interruptions, people stealing the floor, in essence, is inappropriate.”

Bynum agreed that time limits should be respected, but said there are times when rules should be suspended. Bynum closed several of his testimonies on various subjects last year by speaking for 10 to 15 minutes.

“It’s finding the balance, and that really is the chair’s responsibility, and I have great faith in our current chair and his ability to do that,” Bynum said.

Kawakami said he was taught that if he couldn’t get his message across in three minutes, he’d lost the opportunity. “I think that five minutes is generous.”

Furfaro said the five-minute restriction is a good rule, but key presentations perhaps should be exempted.

“We are all going to have to practice good mannerism as we abide by any changes to the rules we have now,” Furfaro said.

Despite some criticism, a roll call showed unanimous support for the establishment of the sub-committee.

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