• Question the no question rule
Question the no question rule
Questions are always appropriate whenever a law or governance issue is before an elected governing body.
The recent rule change by the County Council to prohibit councilmembers from asking questions of testifiers at public meetings even if the questions are about the very topic under scrutiny is not helpful (“No question about it” TGI, Oct. 23).
The reasons given for the rule change were “efficiency and protecting the public.” People who come before the council to testify may prefer not to be asked questions, but one should be able to support their viewpoint in a clear and accurate manner.
Everyone should state opinions fairly and be clear about assertions of fact.
Sometimes testifiers misstate a fact and if that statement stands uncorrected, many who hear it may assume it is accurate. I have often witnessed this at public hearings.
A reasonable solution could be to limit the asking of clarification from testifiers to three minutes. Halting all questions is too strict.
Next, the efficiency issue. Public governance is not about efficiency. Passing good laws takes time.
Laws and rules should be put into place for the best interest of the public. We count upon our elected council members to keep that in mind, and if a law is going to be revised, it should be based upon sound reasoning.
How can sound reasoning be determined without the opportunity to engage in thoughtful dialog? Socrates asked questions and was punished severely. Let us not punish anyone for asking hard questions.
Yes, hard questions may make a person uncomfortable, but we are talking about decisions that impact our entire populace. Those that want a law to be altered should expect that questions may be asked and should be prepared. It should not be easy to promote a change or a law that will impact an entire community.
Kauai’s county councilmembers earn $56,781 and meet 52 Wednesdays a year. Let each of them ask the questions they want. We are paying them to do so.
Speaking only for myself,
Carol Bain, Lihue