Council and Charter Review Committee
COUNCIL AND CHARTER REVIEW COMMITTEE
The Council and Charter Review Committee's task of reviewing the Honolulu City Charter and League's position on local government was concluded in the spring of 1991 with a consensus meeting which acted on seven issues presented by the committee.
The 1991-1992 year was devoted to monitoring the meetings of the Charter Commission, testifying for and against proposals in accordance with League positions, and publicizing our recommendations on the proposed amendments that would appear on the ballot.
Commission meetings began in May of 1991 and continued through September of 1992 with twice-weekly meetings toward the end as the deadline neared. New proposals as well as reconsiderations of rejected proposals were introduced well into August. Except toward the very end when only a few issues were considered at each meeting, we were not privy to the discussions and thoughts of the commissioners as most of the discussions apparently took place in committee meetings to which the public was not invited. We heard only the testimonies of the public and government officials, and about the only clues to individual commissioner's feelings on different issues were gleaned from their questioning of those testifying and from their voting.
The Charter Review Committee met in September and decided to support 11 of the proposed amendments and to oppose 9. We charted our course for publicizing our recommendations including a full-page ad in the special election supplements of both daily papers. We sent copies of our recommendations on request to different organizations, individuals and some of the weeklies. The Honolulu Weekly gave our recommendations wide play. Councilmember Felix's ad in the Windward Sun Press included all of our positions on the amendments. We spoke at meetings of several organizations, and some others used our recommendations as a resource in their own discussions.
Our biggest disappointment was the approval by the voters of the proposal to change the basis for calculating the number of signatures required for initiative and recall petitions from the number who voted for the mayor in the previous election to the number of registered voters. Hindsight tells us that we should have opposed this proposal much more vigorously, singling it out for more public debate via letters to the editors, radio call-in shows, spot ads, etc.'
The amendment to allow council members to abstain from voting when faced with substantial conflict of interest passed, but it did not include the requirement for oral disclosure on the council floor that League had advocated. At a meeting of the Policy Committee of the City Council, we testified to the importance of such a requirement:
- to give council members the opportunity to explain the reasons for their abstaining or for voting in the face of conflict and,
- to mitigate the suspicion that this provision might be used to dodge controversial votes. The Policy Committee accepted this recommendation and incorporated it into their rules, and this was subsequently approved by the Council.
The minutes of the Council and Charter Review Committee, the consensus results, the testimonies before the City Charter Commission, and the minutes of the Charter Commission are all on file in the League office.