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Community Participation
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Community Participation

Report on the Citizens Conference on the Administration of Justice attended by a cross section of 300 citizens on May 24, 25 and 26, 1972

The Conference was sponsored by the Governor; the Chief Justice; the Committee on the Year 2,000 College of Continuing Education; Citizens Administration of Justice Foundation; First Hawaiian Bank and others.

The purpose of the conference was to make "a creative examination of problems, demands, and challenges that can be anticipated to confront the Hawaii legal system within the next few decades and of alternative ways to meet and resolve these problems and challenges".

The results should be the goals to guide those responsible for insuring that the legal system and procedures meet the challenges of the future. An additional overall goal is to create interested and informed citizens of the questions and policy decisions faced daily by the judiciary.

Several task force groups will prepare position papers on topics selected by the delegates in assigned workshops.

Among the speakers who stimulated and inspired the 300 attending citizens were

Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock Charles Halpern, Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy

Glendon Schubert, Professor University of Hawaii Anthony Amsterdam, Professor of Stanford Law School

B.W. McManus, Warden of the Minnesota State Prison

The San Quentin Players, former convicts who showed the dehumanizing effect of confinement.

This group plans to reconvene in August, 1972 in an attempt to arrive at a consensus statement to be presented to the Hawaii Bar Association in November of 1972.

It was a very exciting experience and I wish to thank the League for the privilege of attending as their representative.

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An article by John Knox in the column our city" appeared in MO Honolulu ;-tar Bulletin and .Advertiser on May 21, 1972 and covered the forum on "Decentralization of Government" presented by the American Society for Public Administration.

Mr. Knox stated that "Alice Scott of the League of Women Voters summed up the issues when she said Oahu's centralized city-county government has led to greater efficiency, but -the trick is not to yet so efficient the public is left out- Mrs. Scott basically favored the existing City government structure, hut with a dew more levers of control for the public."

Norman Meller University of Hawaii political scientist advanced the idea that a possible way to decentralize the government and increase citizen participation was to abolish the City and County of Honolulu and put most of its functions in the hands of the state. The state has already assumed most of the usual local government functions such as welfare, schools, hospitals, etc., and also the state could directly govern the 80% state population that resides on Oahu. Mr. Meller admitted that this idea is "partly tongue-in-cheek at the present time" but that if the present trends continue there would be no reason for big cities anywhere in the nation.

Another speaker Charter Commission vice-chairman Robert Dodge suggested legally-recognized community councils which could send non-voting representatives to the City Council. He noted that Hawaii has historically regarded itself as a high-centralized kingdom, and when Congress mandated the creation of county governments "We just carved out four separate kingdoms and go through the motions of electing somebody to run them."

Mr. Knox concluded in his column that "interlocked social and technical tidal waves may be on the way, and only a hastily erected bulwark of social planning can avert some of the Toffleresque future shocks. It is devoutly to be hoped the Charter Commission will clearly spell out what task belongs to what governmental agency in both land use AND social planning."

Glendora Alder

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