March-April 1986 Home   Newsletters

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Meetings in May
LWV Hawaii - Council 1986
President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
League Calendar
Election Laws - Consensus Meeting
Recall Study
Education - Joint Meeting
Vocational and Alternative Education
Address at LWV Honolulu Annual Meeting April 26 - Brief
Annual Meeting - Arpil 25 - Results
Welcome to New Members
Thank You for Your Contributions...
Energy House Tour - March 21
Privatizing Local Governent Services
Issues at Large
Land Use Planning Conference
Dialogue with Exchange Teachers

Address at LWV Honolulu Annual Meeting April 26 - Brief

Marilyn Bornhorst, Chair of the City Council and fellow-League member challenged, enlightened, and entertained us.

The League was urged to look at needed major or minor surgery on the Charter of the City and County of Honolulu with a view to making recommendations for resolutions to go on the ballot two years from now, if not sooner.

A people's government must be done in the open where the people can watch and get involved - if they want to bother. Under the present organization the people cannot watch the Mayor's cabinet meetings or the discussions in the Managing Director's office. Public participation - or even information - is lacking until the annual budget reaches the City Council. At this stage, only the totals for each line item are available. Lack of information on details of exactly what is contained in proposed spending plans and on what is spent has contributed to the need for the Council to increase its staff.

How to find the best balance of power and responsibility among all the players - the mayor, the council, the civil servants, and the citizens is a big question.

How to make our local government hold together so there is genuine, even enforcement is another big question. There seems to be too many laws and too little enforcement.

The Council makes laws and passes the budget, thereby setting policy.

But the "policy-making" departments (General Planning, Budget, and Corporation Counsel) report directly to the Mayor. The Managing Director is supposed to be a sort of "City Manager" to exert the public's control over those city employees who execute the City's policies. To date, however, the Managing Directors do not appear to have been selected based on pertinent qualifications for the job in city government.

Policy-making in some cities is handled by having elected representatives all on one team making policy together. There are questions as to how to balance "protection from the 'spoils' system" against the need for the option to change.

Making it mandatory for the Council to approve appointments of policy-making department heads making it harder to fire basic "service department" heads where continuity is needed have been suggested. Now each new mayor routinely changes department heads and deputies.

Should partisan elections and district elections be continued? San Diego has a system which eliminates districts. Many states do not allow partisan elections at the city level.

The hope was expressed that all citizens would be informed about issues by reading and telecommunications The televising of City Council meetings is hoped to open up avenues of public information which might be adopted by others in government.

The point was made that not just Mayors, Councils, and Judges make laws and not just police and prosecutors enforce laws. Department heads, counter clerks, secretaries, land others make judgmental decisions on how to interpret laws and which parts of laws to remember.

March-April 1986 Home   Newsletters August-September 1986