A surreal agenda: Shut up and serve forever

What kind of Kauai County Council do you want in the future?

Do you want councilmembers that serve forever where members gain more power simply by their longevity, while preserving that power by making sure there is limited public discussion during public meetings?

Please attend today’s Feb. 21 Kauai County Council meeting or at least submit testimony to let the council know your thoughts and feelings on this.

Among other items on todays agenda, there is a proposal to extend the ability of councilmembers to serve an infinite number of terms, and a proposal to allow councilmembers to, engage in dialogue, explore the issues and ask questions of the public (and each other) during public meetings. Yes, the issues on the table today are surreal and a bit outrageous.

Councilmember Kagawa’s proposal to end term limits is being heard today at 1:30 p.m. Anyone who cares about this issue is encouraged to show up at the Historic County Building to testify, or send an email asap to: counciltestimony@kauai.gov

County councilmembers currently are limited to serving four consecutive two-year terms or eight consecutive years. The proposal being considered today, if approved by voters, would eliminate term limits and allow councilmembers to serve an unlimited number of terms.

Also being heard earlier in the day (meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.), is a resolution proposed by Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura that proposes to change the rules of the council that currently prohibit members from engaging in dialogue with the public, during public meetings.

You heard that correctly. The current rules of the Council (initiated by Council Chair Mel Rapozo and approved by a majority of the Council) prohibit individual councilmembers from engaging in a public dialogue with members of the public who testify at public hearings.

While it may be difficult to believe for some, the existing rules of the council state in part – “Councilmembers shall not ask speakers about the substance of their testimony, or comment on testimony or speakers during the testimony period.”

There are other sections of the existing rules that prohibit a councilmember from speaking more than 5 minutes, or more than twice on any issue.

The purpose of these rules is to limit the time that councilmembers can speak.

Though members are required to attend only one meeting per week, some members complain that the meetings are too long, or that their colleagues “talk too much.”

Limiting dialogue at council meetings effectively prevents the public from hearing a diversity of opinion or any deeper exploration of the issue or facts and circumstances surrounding the issue. The ban on dialogue also prevents councilmembers from challenging misstatements of fact made during testimony, or by other councilmembers.

Consequently those councilmembers who have actually studied the issues and are most informed are the ones targeted by the limitations placed on them by those members who want to keep the meeting short and avoid the dialogue and discussion.

I strongly encourage readers to review the actual rules and proposed rule changes. In order to understand the proposed changes, please note that the items to be deleted are in [brackets] and items to be added are underlined.

Resolution No. 2018-07 being heard today and sponsored by Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura attempts to reverse the status quo rules that limit public dialogue between members and the public. Testimony can be presented in person or via email counciltestimony@kauai.gov.

There are many other items of interest on today’s Council agenda including:

w Resolution No. 2018-07 Opposing changes proposed by Spectrum which may severely impact public access stations channel locations on Kauai and around the state.

w Proposed Bill No. 2675 Relating to farm-worker housing permits

w Proposed Bill No. 2693 Relating to additional dwelling units (ADUs) on other than residentially zoned lots

w Public Hearing on Bill No. 2686 Relating to the establishments of additional rental units (ARUs)

All of these issues are important to our community and deserve your attention. Please take a moment, read the agenda posted at the top of this column and be involved.

As a friend told me recently when discussing the topic:

“This is another one of those critical parts of the process, as the review of the general plan was, where we as a community get to ask what kind of island/county we want to have. Do we want the kind of government that rubber stamps paperwork and goes through the motions or the kind that actively engages with citizens to make Kauai an enjoyable and thriving place to live? Do we want our council-members who work hard, study the issues and represent the interests of the public while in office or those who slide under the radar doing just enough? And if we are asking more of them, perhaps it’s time to ask more of ourselves to show up, send in testimony, and do our part to participate in our local government.”


Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action and is the volunteer executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

  1. Bluedream February 21, 2018 7:26 am Reply

    I think the laws that are already in place are fine and that they should cancel the meeting. There is nothing “surreal” about having rules in place that prevent council members getting into arguments with the types of attention starved lunatics on television. One past and one current council member also need these rules in order to prevent their own grandstanding and to prevent them from saying stuff like “bite me”.

  2. Field/House Slave February 21, 2018 12:38 pm Reply

    Plantation mentality. Only on Kauai one can be a former drug dealer (?), former druggie (?), former wife beater (?), former side chick beater (?) and councilman.

  3. Charlie Chimknee February 21, 2018 12:47 pm Reply

    Aloha Gary,

    Don’t forget the Garden Island newspaper sort of does similar disallowing and limiting of the public’s comments which comments would make the public more informed about issues in the newspaper and online.

    It would seem the paper is trying to limit the voices of some of the people who write public testimony in the online newspaper with professional and reasonable comments, which limitations of comments appear to be causing 1sided bias keeping the public Ill informed of information of important issues.



  4. Joan Conrow February 21, 2018 4:01 pm Reply

    Careful, Gary. Your jealousy is showing. You only wish you were as popular as Ross. You couldn’t get re-elected even after spending more money than anyone in the history of Kauai elections.

  5. Aunty Pono February 21, 2018 7:35 pm Reply

    1. Sent to Mel Rapozo, December 2017, (no response)
    Another huge concern we have is the Kauai Office of Economic Developments membership with ICLEI as of 2012, and its (BAIT) web of finance and control within “The County”. Can you please comment on this matter?
    ICLEI is a Non-Governmental Entity which represents The UN Agenda 21 proposal for one world government.
    ICLEI has been successful in infiltrating counties and governments around the world.
    Kauai is one of them, unfortunately many people have had a difficult time wrapping their mind around this issue, and perhaps the membership was a mistake because administrators did not really have a clue as to the depth of ICLEI control over a counties government and the disastrous eventualities.
    ICLEI also sends in their representative(s) to manipulate existing governments.
    Who is the un-elected official here on Kauai that basically runs the County and is not responsible or accountable, because they are not an elected official?
    A hidden agenda perhaps?
    ICLEI has and can still be Repealed.
    Representing, Peoples Pono Alliance, Kauai
    2. Insight to the “People” by PPA: “If an organization wants to take control of government and use it for their own purpose the first thing to do is infiltrate that government in areas of finance, auditing and in areas of governance by transferring power away from elected officials. The object is to consolidate finance and auditing so that you have control of the money and quietly disassemble checks and balances along with separation of power. Establish groups of people in boards that usurp the power of elected officials by rewiring the laws in their favor.
    And if it requires a referendum to be voted on by the people, mis-word the document in such a way where it appears that the only purpose here is to consolidate government and save money or carefully word the referendum so that no means yes on the ballot”.

  6. WestKauai February 23, 2018 5:55 pm Reply

    Gary Hooser chose to step down from his position as State Senate Majority Leader, where he could have influenced legislation in favor of Kauai County. Instead, he chose to pursue other political ambitions but failed. He successfully returned to the Kauai County Council briefly, to be rejected by the voters after his divisive actions on that Council. Nonetheless, his comments on the matters currently before the Council have merit.

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