May 1991 Home   Newsletters

June-July 1991

August 1991

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Charter Commission
Campaign Reform (Daniel K. Akaka)
Motor Voter Registration Up-Date
Permit Modification for Storage on Johnston Atoll
Education
League Testifies on Fixed Rail Route
Viewpoint for KHPR
Letters - Mahalo from Local 5 (Berna Iosua)
Letters - Environmental Awareness (Warren Poslusny)
Charter Review Meeting
Letters - Donald Wolbrink Chapter Achievement Award (Tom Fee)
Letters - The Public Reporter (Patsy T. Mink)
Membership

Charter Commission

MAYOR FASI ADDRESSES HONOLULU CHARTER COMMISSION

Mayor Fasi spoke to the Hon. Charter Commission meeting on June 6 at the Hon. Municipal Building. He stressed the importance of looking at the Charter as a whole. He questioned the effectiveness of single-member districts. He felt that single district members are too concerned about his/her own district and suggested that the Commission look at this problem and explore other electoral systems.

He raised the question of how frequently the Charter should be amended and whether the Charter Commission should meet more often.

He felt that the Council finds it too easy to make amendments to the Charter and suggested that the Commission consider restricting Charter amendments to the Charter Commissions except in cases of extreme emergency, in which case the Mayor's approval should also be required. He felt that the Council is involving itself too much in administrative work. For example, he said, to move money from one department to another, Council's approval is required. He claims that just the paper work involved is tremendous.

Council Chair Arnold Morgado and the Charter Commissioners of 1981 will be addressing the June 25th meeting. The next meeting after that is scheduled for July 9, 1991 at 4:45pm in the Hon. Municipal Bldg. 6th Conference Room.

CHARTER COMMISSION MEMBERS

The six Charter Commission members appointed by the City Council are: Karen Ahn, Esq. LWV member; Anita Benfatti, teacher, Chair of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board, LWV member; Jensen Hee, retired State employee, past Dir. of Budget and Finance; Chester Kunitake, Assistant to the Dir. of HGEA; Allene Richardson, Esq. Executive Dir. of the Legal Aid Society; and Gary Slovin, Esq.

The mayoral appointees: to the Commission John Anderson, financial consultant and former employee of the Bd. of Health; George Hong, Esq.; Jim Loomis, public relations and advertising; Bill McCorriston, Esq. Chair; Roy Tsutsui, civil engineer, and Bill Wanket, urban planning consultant.

The thirteenth member appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council is John Whalen, urban planning consultant.

SHOULD AMENDING OF CHARTER BE MADE MORE DIFFICULT

One of the issues before the Hon. Charter commission will be the voting requirement for Charter amendments. The councils and the administrations of the four counties requested the past Legislature to change the voting requirement from a majority of those voting on the amendments to majority of ballots cast in the election. This, in effect, would make blank ballots "no" votes. Many voters cast their votes for candidates for political offices and simply ignore the ballots for constitutional and charter amendments. These ignored ballots will heavily weigh all elections against any proposed amendments if the voting requirement is changed.

Having failed in the legislature, proponents of this amendment will be seeking the change through the charter commissions. Mayor Fasi made the recommendation to the Hon. Charter Commission when he spoke at their 3rd meeting. The Reorganization Commission included the recommendation in their report to the Mayor and the City Council. (The Reorganization Commission is

is appointed every 10 years by the Mayor at least 2 years before the appointment of the Charter Commission "to study the structure, duties and functions of the several departments and agencies constituting the executive branch".)

If HB195 which would have changed the voting requirement charter amendments for all our counties had passed, the 1991 Charter Commission's revised Charter would face almost certain failure at the polls if past voting patterns prevail.

Do we need to make amending of the Charter more difficult? Is the City Council finding it too easy to amend the Charter as the Mayor charges? Let's look at the Charter amendment proposals since 1972 when the first revised Charter was submitted by the 1971 Charter Commission and approved by the voters.

1974- 3 Charter questions submitted by Council. All 3 approved.
1976- No Charter questions on the ballot.
1978- 8 Charter questions submitted by Council. All 8 approved. Half were characterized as anti-administration amendments, giving the Council some additional powers over the City Prosecutor. Considered but dropped by the Council was the proposal for a full-time Council.
1980- Charter question submitted by petition (Friends for Fasi). Defeated.

This called for a reorganization of the Council electoral system to 5 at-large seats and 4 district seats. A second option, submitted by Council called for the creation of an 11-member Council elected from 11 separate districts. Any reorganization was disapproved by voters.

A proposal to postpone the scheduling of a Charter Reapportionment Commission from 1981 to 1987. Defeated.

Actually 22 amendments had been proposed in City Council. Among those considered were substitution of City Manager for mayor, requirement that the Council confirm all department heads appointed by the mayor, and a change in the status of the Board of Water Supply from an autonomous agency to a city department.

1984- 5 Charter questions submitted. 4 approved.

Voters rejected amendment to change scheduling for reapportionment of council districts from every 8 years to every 10 years. Passed amendment creating a salary commission to set city salaries including those of elected officials.

1986- 6 Charter questions submitted. 3 approved.
1988- 3 Charter questions submitted. All 3 approved.

Among them, establishment of citizens' advisory commission on civil defense, and reapportionment of council districts every 10 years instead of 8.

1990 - 5 amendments submitted. 3 approved.

Approved were Council confirmation of mayoral appointments of managing director and heads of agencies, establishment of Department of Human Resources, and establishment of public transit authority.

Among the proposals discussed in Council but not placed on the ballot was the limiting of mayoral terms to 2 terms.

Changing the voting requirement for amendments to the Charter will be one of the questions that League members will be considering at our consensus meeting on the Honolulu Charter.

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