Friday, May 20, 2022 |
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Recently, while reviewing online the Kaua‘i County Council Dec. 1 “Council Meeting Recap,” I came across this:
“C2021-256 Communication (11/17/2021) from the Housing Director, transmitting for Council consideration, A Resolution Amending Resolution No. 49 (1986), As Amended By Resolution No. 12-91 (1991), and Resolution No. 2008-39 (2008), Relating To Records Disposal Policy, to amend the County Records Disposal Policy to permit the disposal of Section 8 program records after three (3) years in accordance with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development laws. The current County Records Policy requires the Housing Agency to store these records for seven (7) years (Received for the Record.)”
My first inclination was to keep right on going before my eyes completely glazed over.
But then I caught myself and started thinking that “A Resolution Amending a Resolution, as Amended by two other Resolutions…” might be important and warrant further investigation.
To be clear, this discussion of C2021- 256 is not about its substance, but about how it’s an excellent example of government gobbledygook that councilmembers have to deal with daily.
To truly understand what’s being communicated requires at least a cursory review of the actual four resolutions cited.
In addition, anyone making a decision on this topic needs to know what exactly a Section 8 program is, and they will need to understand the importance and the mechanics involved with record preservation.
It’s important to note also that C2021- 256 is just one of 19 items on this one particular council agenda.
Each councilmember, of course, has a different work style, and the only requirement to hold the office is the ability to win an election. One councilmember will read everything on every agenda, and another will read nothing.
Some will ask questions that drill into the minutia on every single item and others will not even open the folder. Some wrestle with the process on every vote, and others simply go with the majority.
The vast majority of County Council decision-making isn’t that earthshaking. Much of it is somewhat tedious, routine and, as they say, “housekeeping.”
Sometimes, however, an item presented as “housekeeping” is actually a major change in public policy attempting to fly under the radar of close scrutiny.
The purported purpose of C2021- 256 is to shorten the existing time frame required to store Section 8 records from seven to three years “in accordance with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development laws.”
This appears to say that in order for the county to comply with HUD laws, we must change county law. However, the federal government often sets “minimum standards,” and the county and the state may set stronger standards if they so choose.
Presenting a change in policy framed as a measure that seeks to “conform to the federal law” is sometimes presented as “housekeeping” when it actually represents a significant and meaningful change to public policy.
At the state level there have been bills in the past seeking to amend Hawai‘i’s clean-water standards to “bring them into alignment with federal requirements.” At first glance, this sounds reasonable, until it’s revealed that existing state standards are actually stricter than federal requirements. Thus, the bills proposed to weaken protections without actually saying that.
Having the ability to read and comprehend the various resolutions and bills that come before them is a critically important skill that competent lawmakers must possess. Having competent staff is also essential. But at the end of the day, having the ability to read between the lines is a must.
Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.
Hooser should educate us about “reading between the lines” as soon as he learns how to connect his own reading capability with whatever level of cognitive awareness that may be available? Which to this date, he has not been able to access?
Well, you tried
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