County in talks about creating Human Resources Department

LIHU‘E — The Charter Review Commission on Monday deferred its decision on entertaining a ballot question proposing to rename the county Personnel Department as a Human Resources Department.

Boards and Commissions Administrator John Isobe said other commissions had already looked at the proposal, each with different perspectives, and supported it. But the Kaua‘i County Council has not looked at it yet.

“If we are going to wait for the County Council to approve it, if they all approve it they might as well pass the resolution, right?” Commissioner Ed Justus said. “They can just pass the resolution to make it happen and not even bother with us.”

Chair Sherman Shiraishi said he would be “generally in favor” of adopting the change, which has been proposed partly to address work-related harassment. “If we can delineate responsibilities, I think it can help.”

The strongest opposition to the name change came from Commissioner Jan TenBruggencate. But it was not because he objected to a Human Resources Department.

He said he was “uncomfortable” in putting his name on a piece of legislation that may or may not address the problem.

“My concern is that this was presented to us as a way to solve the problem,” he said. “It’s not doing that; it doesn’t solve the problem.”

Shiraishi, despite leaning toward approving the proposal, said he was in favor of deferring the decision until they had a full commission.

Commissioners Mary Lou Barela and Joel Guy were absent from the meeting, which was also attended by Vice Chair Patrick Stack and Commissioner Carol Suzawa.

TenBruggencate suggested that the commission defer it until the council makes a decision on the proposal. He also had concerns with putting too many questions on the ballot. “I think we need to save our bullets.”

Shiraishi said TenBruggencate brought up a good point.

“Maybe at our next meeting an agenda item should be to prioritize the proposed charter amendments,” he said.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@


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