August 1990 Home   Newsletters

September 1990

October 1990

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Team to Examine Alternatives to Rail (Astrid Monson)
Honolulu League Will Participate in National Recycling Survey
League Members Learn About Integrated TSM/Transit Systems (Astrid Monson)
Teamsters Vote Count to Get Underway in September
Waikiki Plans Proliferate (Astrid Monson)
Waikiki Walk Two (Dorothy Turnbull)
News from the Council Review Committee (Jean Aoki)
Leaguers Attend Kapolei Presentation (Astrid Monson)
Honolulu League Members Seek Political Office
Welcome New Members
Announcing: People's Water Conference #7

News from the Council Review Committee

Dr. Phyllis Turnbull, Professor of Political Science, UH/Manoa, was guest speaker at the August 9 meeting of the Council Review Committee. She shared her views on some of the issues surrounding the selection of City Council members and the electoral system involved. Dr. Turnbull worked as a researcher for the City Charter Commission in 1971.

In her opening remarks, she stressed that we must keep in mind that the main job of the City Council is land development. What kind of controls are needed to salvage the open land left on Oahu?

At our request, she commented on some of the issues we are reviewing.

Terms: Dr. Turnbull feels that a four year term is best, because the budget process itself takes two years. She feels that staggered terms are wrong, even with limited terms. She claims that the City's stability is not threatened by an influx of new members because staff personnel and the administration carry work forward, and

Councilmembers learn quickly.

Electoral System: She feels that in at-large representation, marginal areas are often penalized and neglected. The pork barrel system often associated with district representation may help the less fortunate districts get their needs tended to. We need to consider whether there are compelling interests that are abused by at-large elections.

In answer to questions regarding the caliber of representatives fostered by either system, she advanced the provocative idea that people have a right to vote for whomever they want. If the citizens of a district vote for someone whose qualifications others may question, that representative may be filling a need of those citizens. The candidate may be expressing their frustrations and desires. He/she is their choice and they are entitled to their choice.

In our continuing discussion, Professor Turnbull reminded us that local government was established only at the insistence of Congress. Congress ordered its establishment or threatened to do it for us.

The City Council is unicameral, but we are more comfortable with a bicameral system. This may be the cause of some of our frustrations with the Council.

Full-time or Part-time: The Question we should be asking is how would full-time status change the nature of the Councilmembers' work.

Partisan or Nonpartisan: Party membership may be important for organizing, but party discipline is no longer the force it used to be.

Professor Turnbull gave an added dimension to our thinking on these issues, and we will be seeking her advice and help in the future.

Jean Aoki
Council Review Committee Chair

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